Meet Dr. Brian Anderson – NETL’s New Director

By T.L. Headley, American Coal Council 

Brian Anderson, Ph.D., was recently named the new director of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg made the announcement of Anderson’s appointment November 11, 2018.

Anderson’s move was only a mile-and-a-half down the street. He comes to NETL from West Virginia University (WVU), where he served as director of the university’s Energy Institute.

“Dr. Anderson’s extensive experience and knowledge in engineering and science is extraordinary. As the only national laboratory that is fully owned and operated by the Department of Energy, I am confident the National Energy Technology Laboratory will continue to make strides in advancing coal, natural gas, oil and other energy technologies under his leadership,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

As a world-class researcher, Anderson has traveled around the globe to participate in international collaborations addressing energy-related challenges. However, his research career is firmly founded in his home state of West Virginia. Anderson graduated summa cum laude from WVU in 2000 with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering. In 2004 and 2005, he earned his master’s and doctorate in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Anderson began his career as an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biomedical engineering at WVU. Throughout his tenure, he became a recognized expert in natural gas hydrates, unconventional oil and gas development, and clean coal technologies.

He had a job offer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, known as ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, but declined it. Instead, he stayed at WVU, where in 2014, he founded the WVU Energy Institute, which is the largest energy collaborative research organization at the university. It is focused on advancing technology through research, development and demonstration within the energy industry.

“I was offered a golden ticket to go there [to ETH], but when I looked at what I was going to do with my career, the impact I could make would be minimized,” Anderson said. “We founded the WVU Energy Institute and that kept me from moving to Switzerland. I’ll continue that mind-set at NETL. We are a big team with a big focus. Everything we do involves trying to take the resources we have in the United States, and here in our region, and be able to use those natural resources in the most efficient and economical way, with responsible stewardship of the environment. Ultimately, we hope to have a positive impact on people’s lives both here and across the country, while we contribute toward the nation’s technological advantage and safeguard the environment.”

At WVU, Anderson built successful relationships and partnerships across academic institutions, federal agencies and the energy industry, as well as paved the way for an $83-billion partnership between the state of West Virginia and China.