WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers have won 32 of the 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine and received a special recognition award for the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The R&D 100 Awards, sometimes called the “Oscars of Innovation,” are given annually in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year. The awards were presented at a special event in the Washington D.C. area’s National Harbor on the evening of Thursday, November 3rd.
“The Department of Energy’s National Laboratories are a global technology powerhouse that harness innovation to create jobs, support new industries and help ensure America’s competitive edge in areas of national security and science,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “These awards demonstrate the incredible value that our National Laboratories continue to provide by using basic science to address tough challenges, from cryptography to clean energy, X-ray imaging to environmental remediation.”
To be eligible for an award, the technology or process has to be in working and marketable condition – no proof of concept prototypes are allowed – and had to be first available for purchase or licensing between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016.
Since 1962, when the annual competition began, the Energy Department’s National Laboratories have received more than 800 R&D 100 awards. The awards are selected by an independent panel of judges based on the technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness of projects and technologies from across industry, government and academia.
The list of corresponding technologies and National Labs follows with many of these projects developed in collaboration with private companies or academic institutions:
ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The Nek5000/NekCEM high-performance software package allows accurate and efficient simulation of electromagnetics, fluid flow, thermal convection, combustion, and magnetohydrodynamics. A key feature of the package is its ability to run on platforms ranging from PCs to the world's largest parallel computers.
- The Porous Nano-Network Catalyst is a highly efficient non-precious metal catalyst prepared using earthly abundant low-cost materials as replacement for platinum in fuel cell vehicular applications.
Read more about these projects at: http://www.anl.gov/
BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The Hard X-Ray Scanning Microscope with Multilayer Laue Lens Nanofocusing Optics, a joint entry with Argonne National Laboratory, is a high-throughput hard x-ray scanning microscope with specialized lenses for imaging of a broad range of materials spanning from nanoscience to biology with the spatial resolution better than 20 nanometers.
- The MoSoy Catalyst is a novel low-cost, high-performance electrocatalyst derived from biomass (soybean) and a non-precious transition metal (molybdenum) for producing hydrogen. The technology eliminates the need for expensive metals such as platinum, improving the economic viability of this technology for producing hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be compressed, stored and transported for use directly as a fuel.
- Nanostructured Anti-Reflecting and Water-Repellent Surface Coatings: This is a scalable, nanotechnology-based surface-texturing method that imparts perfect anti-reflection and robust water-repellency to silicon, glass, and some plastics. The technology could potentially be used to produce highly efficient, self-cleaning solar cells, glare-free cell phone screens, and perfectly transparent windows.
Read more about these projects at: https://www.bnl.gov/world/
IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY
- Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) (Idaho was a co-developer – Oak Ridge led)
Read more about this project at: https://www.inl.gov/
LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The Cool Roof Time Machine is a method for rating and prototyping cool roofing products that simulates three years of weathering and soiling in less than three days.
- PIM Membranes for Long-Lived Li-S Batteries are low cost, easily processed polymer membranes that enable next generation lithium-sulfur batteries with enhanced lifetimes and energy efficiency.
- The Sustainable and Affordable Fluoride Removal (SAFR) process is an ultra-low-cost fluoride remediation approach using mildly-processed bauxite, readily available worldwide.
Read more about these projects at: http://www.lbl.gov/
LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The GLO Transparent Ceramic Scintillator: This instrument dramatically increases high-energy, or mega-electron-volt, radiography throughput by providing seven times faster imaging than glass scintillators and decreases the X-ray dose required to obtain detailed imagery. Mega-electron-volt radiography is used to nondestructively image the three-dimensional volume of complex objects.
- Polyelectrolyte Enabled Liftoff (PEEL): This technology is a robust, scalable method of fabricating freestanding polymer films that are larger, stronger and thinner than conventional methods can produce. PEEL is currently used at the National Ignition Facility for the daily fabrication of membranes as thin as 30 nanometers that serve as compliant, load-bearing elements for laser targets.
Read more about these projects at: https://www.llnl.gov/
LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The Entropy Engine is a random number generator that addresses a key fundamental flaw in modern crypto systems – predictability. The invention strengthens the foundation of computer security by producing an inexhaustible supply of pure random numbers at speeds of 200 million bits per second. Entropy Engine uses the unique properties of quantum mechanics to generate true entropy (random numbers) in a way that makes it immune from all external influences.
- PathScan provides security analytics for computer network attack detection. Traditional computer network security tools, which search for malware or network signatures, insufficiently protect from expensive data breaches. So rather than detecting something that “looks” like a cyberthreat, PathScan searches for anomalous communications behavior within the network. Ernst & Young submitted PathScan, a joint entry with the Lab, based on technology licensed from the Lab.
- Pulmonary Lung Model (PulMo) is a miniature, tissue-engineered lung developed to revolutionize the screening of new drugs or toxic agents. It could also be used as a platform to study the flow dynamics of particles inside a lung for applications in drug delivery and particle/pathogen deposition studies. PuLMo has the potential to enable screening of new drugs more effectively by improving the reliability of pre-clinical testing and saving time, money and lives.
Read more about these projects at: http://www.lanl.gov/
NATIONAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY (NETL)
- The CCSI Toolset is the only suite of computational tools and models specifically tailored to help maximize learning and reduce risk during the scale-up process for carbon-capture technologies. This is critically important because carbon-capture pilot projects represent an expensive, limited opportunity to collect the data necessary to move to commercial scale. By maximizing the learning during such pilot projects, the CCSI Toolset can help reduce the timeline for subsequent commercialization and enable greater investment confidence.
- Computationally Optimized Heat Treatment of Metal Alloys: This process provides an easy method to optimize heat treatment to achieve the desired degree of homogenization with a minimum of furnace time. Its primary application is for alloys that are exposed to extreme environments, including heat-resistant alloys or those needing corrosion/oxidation resistance. A properly homogenized alloy will not only perform better but will also have an extended lifecycle.
- Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Load Reduction Technology for Commercial Buildings: This technology uses a module integrated into existing HVAC systems to scrub the air of dangerous indoor air contaminants. This technology helps to reduce energy use and lower costs by recirculating the already-cooled inside air.
Read more about this project at: http://www.netl.doe.gov/
NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY (NREL)
- Battery Internal Short-Circuit Device: This newly-patented technology is the first mechanism able to accurately simulate a true internal short circuit within a battery cell, providing researchers with reliable data to determine how the size, resistance, and location of an internal short circuit will impact safety measures implemented in new battery designs.
- EcoSnap-AC Heat Pump System: This system defines a revolutionary new class of residential air conditioners that addresses all the major drawbacks of room air conditioners while maintaining the affordability that is so important for people. It can be installed anywhere on an exterior wall, is quieter and more energy efficient, doesn't jeopardize home security, is easy for a homeowner to install in just a few minutes, and can be left in place year-round.
- Wolfspeed Wide Bandgap Automotive Traction Inverter (NREL was one of several co-developers, which was led by the company Wolfspeed): The inverter is the first traction drive optimized for wide bandgap devices that utilizes a commercially available SiC power module. That will help enable hybrid and electric vehicles to become more attractive, reducing the domestic use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more about these projects at: http://www.nrel.gov/
OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY (ORNL)
- G-Mode Microscopy & Spectroscopy uses a custom controller to rapidly collect and thoroughly process the information flow from a scanning probe microscope detector in its entirety, yielding all accessible information about minute changes sensed by the probe as it interacts with nanoscopic volumes of a sample. This is in contrast to traditional approaches which only collect a fraction of the available information.
- Open Port Sampling Interfaces for Mass Spectrometry remove the most difficult usability barrier for mass spectrometry, that of producing and transferring viable samples into the device. The interfaces make mass spectrometry easier for novices and experts alike, accept many types of samples and produce results almost instantaneously.
- The Oak Ridge Graph Analytics for Medical Innovation (ORiGAMI) is an artificial intelligence system designed to search, collect and connect medical literature resources to improve medical research discovery. Already, the engine has helped researchers investigate possible carcinogens, explore drug-disease interactions and find other serendipitous connections between disparate medical sources.
- The Roof Savings Calculator Suite is a Web-based tool for simulating energy flow and loss in businesses and homes and predicting the cost-effectiveness of cool roofing and attic technologies based on building type and location. It is more accurate and customizable than the current DOE and EPA energy calculators and is designed to educate builders and consumers about the money saving potential of roofing upgrades.
- The U-Grabber is an adsorbent material designed to extract uranium and other metals from water inexpensively and efficiently. The material is made from polyethylene fibers, which can be reconstituted and reused, are cheap to produce at scale and can be customized to bind with other toxic or valuable aqueous metals, providing an environmentally sound method of cleaning bodies of water such as mines or fly ash ponds.
- Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA) is a VERA is a physics simulation tool that visualizes the internal processes of commercial nuclear fission power plants and predicts reactor behavior in a number of potential scenarios. It was developed by a consortium of researchers from ORNL, the Electric Power Research Institute, Westinghouse Nuclear and Idaho, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.
- Waste Tire Derived Carbon uses a proprietary process for repurposing discarded car tires as a source of carbon powder, a sooty hydrocarbon byproduct that can be modified to incorporate into anodes of lithium-ion batteries.
- Special Recognition Award for the Wireless Power Transfer Based Electric and Plug-In Vehicle Charging System. The system was submitted by Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America and co-developed by a team of ORNL researchers with support from Cisco Systems and the International Transportation Innovation Center. The team developed the world’s first 20-kilowatt wireless charging system for passenger cars and achieved 90 percent efficiency at three times the rate of the plug-in systems commonly used for electric vehicles today.
Read more about these projects at: https://www.ornl.gov/
PACIFIC NORTHWEST NATIONAL LABORATORY
- The E4D-RT: Real-time Four-Dimensional Subsurface Imaging Software is a technology used to determine the extent of subsurface contamination and what is driving its migration, constructing 3D, time-lapse images of how the subsurface environment changes over time, in real time. E4D-RT is a cost-saving open source solution for imaging many kinds of subsurface studies – including fluid movement in geothermal systems and hydraulic fracturing operations and even understanding volcanic activity.
Read more about this project at: https://www.pnl.gov/
SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES
- The Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy is designed to lower the cost and improve the efficiencies of solar energy systems. It works by dropping sand-like ceramic particles through a beam of concentrated sunlight, capturing and storing the heated particles in an insulated tank. The technology can capture and store heat at high temperatures without breaking down, unlike conventional molten salt systems.
- Pyomo v4.1 is an extensible software platform for developing optimization-based analytics to support complex decision-making in real-world applications. Optimization—finding a solution that minimizes (or maximizes) a function over a set of possible alternatives—is widely used in business, science, and engineering to minimize costs, identify worst-case scenarios, and analyze trade-offs. Optimization is used to: schedule commercial aircraft and crews; manage supply chains for auto manufacturers; design sensor networks to protect water distribution systems; identify locations for military supply depots; and operate power grids worldwide.
- Stress-induced Fabrication of Functionally Designed Nanomaterials enables the production of new materials with better performance and structure control while reducing costs, improving manufacturability and minimizing environmental and safety concerns. The technology represents a new paradigm for the production of functionally designed nanomaterials with more degrees of freedom than chemical methods.
- T-QUAKE (Transceiver for Quantum Keys and Encryption) miniaturizes all of the components necessary to securely encode, transmit, receive and decode quantum photonic signals onto a single microchip, in effect creating an ultra-secure cryptographic network node for any secure communication or network application.
- The Ultra-Fast X-Ray Imager (UXI) is the fastest multiframe digital X-ray camera in the world, which takes images with an exposure time of only 1.5 nanoseconds – 25 times faster than the best digital cameras. It is helping researchers capture plasma images more rapidly, and has already been used successfully in hundreds of experiments at Sandia’s Z-Beamlet Laser facility and at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility.
Read more about these projects at http://www.sandia.gov/