NETL works to position Appalachian region as epicenter of petrochemical resurgence

Credit: NETL

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) recently stated that Appalachia, home to the Marcellus and Utica shale gas formations, is positioned to serve as the epicenter of a petrochemical resurgence utilizing the conversion of natural gas into chemical feedstock used in manufacturing.

NETL said that its talent and expertise as well as full utilization of the region will help position the United States as a world leader in the conversion of natural gas and liquid natural gas into the chemical feedstocks that manufacture valuable everyday products.

Appalachia’s abundant levels of shale gas have already spurred the construction of the Shell Chemicals petrochemical plant in Beaver County, Pa. The $6 million project is expected to open in 2021 approximately 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. PTT Global Chemical America has also announced plans to build a petrochemical plant in eastern Ohio.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that “the shale gas revolution has the potential to last for more than a century,” according to its June 2020 report, “The Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Examination of Economic Progress and Opportunities.”

The Lab said the increased work in the Appalachian region could generate a large number of good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing while also enhancing the U.S. economy.

NETL has announced that it is prioritizing projects focused on converting natural gas into chemical building blocks and positioning its multidisciplinary team to support innovative technologies that will transform the petrochemical sector.

“That will enable us to bridge the so-called Valley of Death,” or the gap between initial research discoveries and full-scale commercialization by industry during which funding or support for a new technology can fail, said Bryan Morreale, executive director of NETL’s Research & Innovation Center.

“The work to be undertaken not only strengthens the nation’s capabilities to serve as a world leader in efficient conversion of natural gas into a valuable project, it will ensure a robust, reliable supply of vital materials needed by manufacturers in an exciting new industry,” Morreale said.