Pacific Northwest National Laboratory wins, shares four R&D 100 awards

July 24, 2001

RICHLAND, Wash. - Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and their collaborators have been recognized by R&D Magazine as developing four of the 100 most significant innovations of 2000. These technologies are reducing harmful exhaust emissions, significantly improving facility energy efficiency and lifecycle costs, improving the quality of glass and metal products, and helping to quickly locate, monitor and account for nearly anything from produce to people.

The R&D 100 Award competition is conducted annually by R&D Magazine to honor the most promising new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world. Awards are based on each achievement's technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness. PNNL researchers have received 58 R&D 100 Awards since 1969, including 51 since 1988.

"I'm proud of the award-winning work done at PNNL," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. "These accomplishments demonstrate the value of government-funded research to our nation."

PNNL's winning technologies for 2000 include:

Materials that convert harmful engine exhaust emissions into components of clean air - Engine emissions include harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and can pose a serious health risk. These emissions also threaten the environment by contributing to the formation of acid rain and are precursors to ozone, the major component of smog.

PNNL researchers, working with Ford Motor Co., General Motors and DaimlerChrysler, through the USCAR Low Emissions Technologies Research and Development Partnership, have been developing a promising new plasma-catalysis technology that significantly reduces NOx from the exhaust of next-generation energy-efficient vehicles.

The R&D 100 Award is for the invention and further development of the catalyst materials used in a plasma-catalysis device, and was carried out by researchers at PNNL, Ford Motor Co. and Delphi Energy & Chassis Division of Delphi Automotive Systems. The Combustion and Emission Control Program in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Office of Transportation Technologies funded the research performed at PNNL.

Delphi Automotive Systems, located in Troy, Mich., and previously part of General Motors, is now funding research separately with PNNL to develop a complete, integrated non-thermal plasma-catalyst system. The commercial engine exhaust aftertreatment system will be capable of reducing NOx and soot emissions from diesel-powered vehicles.

A suite of analysis procedures, software and hardware that can reduce lifecycle operations and maintenance costs by as much as 25 to 50 percent - The cost of operations and maintenance can make or break a business, especially with rising capital equipment and energy prices. Researchers at PNNL have addressed this problem with the development of DSOM™, Decision Support for Operations and Maintenance™.

DSOM™ is an intelligent diagnostic system that allows for online monitoring of overall facility conditions and efficiencies, alerts operators to degrading conditions and suggests recommended solutions that improve reaction time and ensure appropriate responses.

DSOM™ can achieve dramatic savings by improving process efficiency, cutting maintenance costs, extending equipment life and reducing energy consumption and associated harmful emissions.

Using online condition-based maintenance techniques, DSOM™ focuses on finding optimum economic balance between high production rates, machine stress and failure.

Long-Range Semi-Passive Radio Frequency Identification System - This system was developed at PNNL and commercialized and marketed by the newly formed Wave ID company of Richland, Wash.

These unique semi-passive RF tags can identify, locate and even determine the condition of any item to which they are attached. In an inventory application, this system significantly reduces the time required to count, locate, monitor and control distribution of resources ranging from commercial commodities, such as clothing, blood plasma and perishable foods, to military equipment and personnel in the field. Inventories of items in large warehouses or stores can be completed in minutes instead of days, and the location of specific items can be found within a warehouse at a moment's notice.

A high-temperature viscosity measurement technology for process monitoring of hot molten materials such as those in glass manufacturing and metals refining - Viscosity is a measure of how well a liquid flows within stationary boundaries such as a pipe or pour spout, in response to a given force. It is a key parameter of molten materials that can indicate the chemistry and quality of a glass or metal product.

PNNL worked with researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Savannah River Technology Center to create the MilliWave Viscometer. The device fills a need for a high-temperature online viscosity sensor that makes possible real-time process control in the manufacture of glass, metals and other melter-produced materials. For the first time, it allows active feedback control of the manufacturing process that will lead to improved product quality, manufacturing efficiency and lower costs.

The MilliWave Viscometer is the only viscosity measurement technology that uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic radiation to probe the movement of liquids.
PNNL's winners will be recognized at R&D Magazine's 39th Annual R&D 100 Awards Banquet at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry on the evening of Oct. 4.

More information on these and previous PNNL R&D 100 Awards can be found at Business inquiries on PNNL technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or e-mail:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL for DOE since 1965.

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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