Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy Projects Garner 22 R&D 100 Awards

September 27, 2006

R&D Magazine announced the winners of its annual R&D 100 Awards on September 22nd, honoring the top 100 examples of innovation in research and development (R&D) that occurred in 2006. Among the 100 awardees are about 22 relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy, with a bias this year toward energy efficiency. Eight of those awards went to industrial efficiency projects, which are covered in a separate article. See all the awardees on the R&D Magazine Web site.

In terms of building and vehicle efficiency, DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) won awards for a dehumidification system and a hybrid solar lighting system, which pairs a roof-mounted solar collector with fiber optics that deliver sunlight into the building. Aircuity Inc. also won with a building monitor that can help to optimize energy use. Hybrid vehicles might benefit from the M1 lithium-ion battery, developed by A123Systems, which draws on nanotechnology to recharge quickly, deliver 3,000 watts per kilogram, and operate for ten times longer than existing lithium-ion batteries. Cars and other vehicles could also get lighter thanks to several award-winning materials advances, including a Dow Automotive adhesive that can bond metals and plastics together in weight-bearing applications; a rigid carbon foam developed by GrafTech International Ltd.; a process for manufacturing titanium alloy components at one-fifth the cost of casting, developed by Material and Electrochemical Research Corporation; and a technique for injection molding titanium, developed by DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). See the ORNL press releases on the awards in general and specifically on the hybrid lighting technology; the A123Systems Web site; and the press releases from Dow Automotive, GrafTech, and PNNL.

For biofuels, DOE's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) earned an award for an enzyme that will help to convert cellulosic biomass into sugars, while DOE's Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Archer Daniels Midland Company were awarded for a bioreactor that could be key for producing biobased products. Other winning renewable technologies include a semiconductor material developed by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) that could yield more efficient solar cells, an online monitor to detect problems with hydropower rotor windings, and a high-temperature fluoride battery suitable for use in geothermal drilling, developed with the help of DOE's Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). ANL won the sole award relating to fuel cells, for a sensor that can help vehicles detect unsafe levels of hydrogen. See the press releases from INL, ANL, LBNL, and SNL.