U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Advanced Manufacturing Office
R&D 100 Awards: ITP Projects are Winners in Scientific Excellence
August 7, 2006
ITP-supported projects have received eight R&D 100 awards, which honor the 100 most technologically significant products of the past year. The ITP projects recognized this year represent breakthrough innovations that promise improved energy efficiency opportunities for the Aluminum, Chemicals, Forest Products, Steel, and Mining industries.
Each year, R&D Magazine bestows awards on the top 100 most promising new technologies, products, and processes to enter the marketplace. Known as the "Oscars of Invention," the awards are widely recognized as a mark of excellence for the most innovative and commercially viable scientific ideas of the year. Awards are based on each project's technical significance, uniqueness, and usefulness. Since 1962, DOE has supported the basic research for nearly 700 of these award-winning projects.
"I congratulate the researchers who have won these awards, which highlight the power and promise of DOE's investments in science and technology," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "Through the efforts of dedicated and innovative scientists and engineers at our national laboratories, DOE is helping to enhance our nation's energy, economic and national security."
Link to the DOE Web site to learn about awards presented to national laboratories, and read here about the eight ITP-supported winning technologies:
- Isothermal Melting Process (ITM) (PDF 124 KB) received an R&D 100 award for its revolutionary technology that uses direct immersion heaters to melt aluminum by heat conduction. Developed in partnership with Apogee Technology, Inc., Aleris International, General Motors, Drexel University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Argonne National Laboratory, the ITM technology uses one-third of the energy of conventional melting furnaces, and is more than twice as efficient. The multiple-bay design can withstand the harsh melting environment and offers reduced melt loss, zero in-plant emissions, low capital cost, and significantly reduced plant floor space requirements.
- The Chemicals and Petrochemicals industries will benefit from new alloys developed by Argonne National Laboratory that resist Metal Dusting Degradation (PDF 230 KB), another technology that garnered an R&D 100 award. Metal dusting is a corrosion phenomenon which occurs in equipment used in high-temperature, hydrocarbon-containing atmospheres such as hydrogen production, ammonia synthesis, methanol reforming, and syngas production. These new metal dusting-resistant materials can be used to build equipment for these processes, which could save up to $290 million per year in the hydrogen industry alone, and increase industrial productivity by reducing maintenance shutdowns.
- The radical new design of the Multiport Dryer Technology for the Forest Products Industry (PDF 123 KB) impressed R&D 100 judges with its improved heat transfer and thermal efficiency, increased paper production rates, and significant energy savings. Developed by Argonne National Laboratory researchers and partners at the University of Illinois and Kadant Johnson, the dryer can be retrofitted into existing dryers at one-fifth the cost of a new dryer. In addition, the technology can potentially increase paper production rates by up to 50%, further reducing capital costs of operation. Successful commercialization of the multiport dryer technology industry-wide could result in annual energy savings of 17 trillion Btu, and reduction of CO2 emissions of approximately 1.6 million tons per year by 2030.
- Another R&D 100 award went to the Laser Ultrasonic Sensor (PDF 640 KB), which measures the bending stiffness and shear strength of paper without touching the paper's surface. The technology, which was developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Institute of Paper Science and Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, allows tighter control of the papermaking process. Tighter process control means that less wood fiber, energy and chemicals are needed to produce paper that meets customer specifications. This technology could save U.S. industries $200 million in energy costs and $330 million in fiber costs each year.
Industrial Materials for the Future
- The new Heat-Resistant Cast Austenitic Stainless Steels (PDF 142 KB) developed by Duraloy Technologies, Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also won a R&D 100 award. The new TMA 6301 and TMA 4701 steels were created using computer design methodology, which reduced the development time from the usual 6 to 10 years to 3 years. The new alloys offer improved durability and lifespan at higher maximum operations temperatures for use in the chemical, petrochemical, steel, and heat treating industries. In contrast to conventional alloys, the new steels enable 50° C higher operating temperatures, resulting in up to 5% increase in energy efficiency, longer life and increased productivity. Estimated energy benefits include natural gas savings of more than 35 trillion Btu per year by 2020.
- A new surface treatment for metals and alloys, Metal Infusion Surface Treatment (MIST) (PDF 125 KB) which results in increased lifetimes and higher performance of engineering components, was developed by Chemical Composite Coatings International, LLC (C3), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The R&D 100 award-winning MIST technology infuses up to 51 elements into the surface of metals, and then secures these elements with a thin, nanostructured coating, using rapid infrared processing. MIST improved the life of aluminum die casting parts by 30 to 50 times, and has also shown to increase lifetimes of metalworking and cutting tools.
Sensors and Automation
- OG Technologies' (OGT) HotEyeTM Rolled Steel Bar (RSB) (PDF 128 KB) won an award for its fully automatic, in-line, machine vision system that provides the steel mill with accurate, reliable, and timely information about steel surface quality and defects. This technology was developed to help steel and forging mills identify and analyze surface defects in order to reduce scrap, eliminate waste, and improve productivity. HotEyeTM RSB systems are currently used to inspect the surface of rods, bars, billets, and rails, and OGT continues to explore new applications for this innovative product. HotEyeTM RSB is expected to save over $13 million per year in energy costs by 2010.
- This year marks the second R&D 100 award for researchers at Stolar Research Corporation and National Energy Technology Laboratory for their work in developing imaging technology for the Mining industry. Last year, judges bestowed an award on the Drill String Radar (DSR), a real-time proximity sensor that sends high-frequency radio waves into the earth from an existing drill string to detect, map, and navigate through unknown geographical strata. Researchers further developed the project to include a new communication device called the Data Transmission System (DTS) (PDF 1.16 MB), which won a 2006 R&D 100 award. The DTS transmits real-time data between standard downhole sensors and surface communications equipment through modulated radio waves coupled to the skin of the drill pipe using loop antennas. As such, it requires no additional wires and cables, and permits a higher data rate of more than 300 times greater than most systems currently in use. The DTS allows drilling operators to compile a more accurate picture of downhole conditions in less time, increasing operating efficiency and lowering operational costs.
Through public-private R&D partnerships, ITP supports development of industry-specific and cross-cutting technologies and processes. Each of these award-winning technologies contributes in a unique way to reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy for the nation. To learn more about ITP-sponsored technologies, visit the Technologies section of the ITP Web site.