Honors Gallery

Dr. Brian J. Anderson

Award: Laboratory Director of the Year

Year: 2021

Award Type: National

National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) - Morgantown, WV

In May 2019, just six months after becoming director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Dr. Brian J. Anderson signed a 10-year, $100 million technology transfer (T2) agreement with two other Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and energy giant ExxonMobil. That was just the beginning of Anderson’s success in raising the lab’s profile as a key player in tech transfer. 

Anderson’s institutional vision and intentional leadership have spurred NETL to intensify its focus on shepherding research and development into the marketplace. Outside the lab, Anderson has convincingly communicated to industry stakeholders clear and compelling messages of NETL’s technical research capabilities and the lab’s vision for technology development, deployment and transfer. 

Under Anderson’s leadership, NETL’s production of intellectual property and related requests for licenses and other development agreements has been exceptionally fruitful. 

During 2019, NETL’s internally funded research resulted in 33 invention disclosures submitted, 34 patent applications filed and 14 patents issued. By 2020, 100% of NETL’s estimated licensing income was used to support technology transition activities, compared with 47% in 2019. 

NETL executed 49 agreements, including NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), MOUs/MOAs (Memorandums of Understanding/Agreement), CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreements), CFAs (Contributed Funds Agreements), IIAs (Inter-Institutional Agreements), IAAs (Interagency Agreements) and NAAs (Non-Analysis Agreements). 

Anderson has fostered a culture of excellence at NETL that is both proactive in addressing emerging challenges and committed to building systems that can power the future. His emphasis on learning through exposure led to the Technology Transfer Researcher Liaison pilot program, designed to expose more researchers to the technology transfer experience. NETL researcher liaisons assist fellow researchers in identifying potentially patentable inventions, assist first-time inventors with invention disclosure, help researchers prepare for engagements with prospective industry partners, present T2-related briefings in staff meetings, and disseminate information about technology transfer opportunities at NETL and DOE. 

Anderson has fostered a culture of excellence at NETL that is both proactive in addressing emerging challenges and committed to building systems that can power the future.

Externally, Anderson has fostered strategic relationships with coal, utility and academic institutions as well as state and local governments along with important carbon management stakeholders, such as the Carbon Utilization Research Council (CURC), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Lignite Energy Council, the Southern States Energy Board, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior.

The 2019 deal with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering (EMRE) — an agreement that also included the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory — has generated commercialization interest with EMRE for several NETL technologies.

NETL projects covered by the agreement include:

  • $1.77 million to create a fundamental understanding of the fracture-matrix interface in tight oil production.
  • $1.7 million to evaluate the feasibility of chemical looping for generating the synthetic fiber olefin.
  • $1.5 million to explore the potential benefits of direct air capture technologies.

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