NREL wins research and development awards

July 16, 2002

Three technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are among this year's 100 most significant innovations, as judged by Research & Development (R&D) Magazine.

The laboratory's three R&D 100 Awards for 2002 are for a new material that protects and extends the life of key components in geothermal power plants; a solar power system that produces electricity while still allowing sunlight to pass through it; and, an incredibly thin ceramic fiber that effectively filters out bacteria and viruses and can enhance the performance of composite materials.

This year's announcement brings to 34 the number of R&D 100 awards garnered by NREL.

"Behind each award that NREL has received over the years is another success story about the important work performed by our research staff," said NREL Director Richard Truly. "We're especially gratified to receive such honors on this, the 25th Anniversary of the laboratory."

Recognized for 2002 was the Smart, High-Performace Polyphenylenesulfide (PPS) Coating System, now being marketed under the trade name CurraLon, which resists corrosion at high temperatures and can actually repair itself when damaged. It provides a reliable surface for heat exchangers and resolves a vexing operating issue for geothermal power plants.

The award was jointly awarded to NREL, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Ticona Corp. and Bob Curran & Sons Corp. NREL researcher Keith Gawlik was a lead developer.

Another winner, the PowerView Semi-Transparent Photovoltaic Module, developed by NREL and BP Solar, is a novel system that serves as a roof or window while creating power for a building. BP has to date incorporated the systems in more than 150 of its service stations and the panels are envisioned to become a functional replacement for conventional glass in walls, canopies, atriums, entrances and facades in commercial and residential architecture.

NREL developers were Harrin Ullal, Ken Zweibel and Bolko von Roedern.

The third winner, the NanoCeram Nanoalumina Fiber, is a nanoscale alumina-based ceramic fiber that when incorporated in a filter can eliminate 99.99999 percent of viruses and bacteria from contaminated air or water. It can be used to clean heavy metals from polluted water, as a growth media for microbes for bio-medical purposes, and holds promise as a lattice for artificial bone growth. NREL won jointly with Argonide Corporation, and the Design Technology Center of Tomsk, Russia.

NREL researchers on the project were David Ginley, Tanya Rivkin, Calvin Curtis, Alexander Miedaner and Kim Jones.

"We are still amazed at how versatile this unique fiber is proving to be," said Ginley, an NREL team leader who holds the distinction of working on separate projects that have resulted in four of the R&D 100 Awards that have gone to NREL. "This fiber material has led to breakthrough products in several areas, and more are on the way."
NREL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Midwest Research Institute, Battelle and Bechtel. The laboratory is a leading center for research into solar energy technologies, wind energy, plant- and waste-derived fuels and chemicals, energy-efficient buildings, advanced vehicle design, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel cells.

DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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