WASHINGTON, DC - Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today announced that researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and companies conducting DOE-funded research have won five awards given this year by R&D Magazine for the most outstanding technology developments with the greatest commercial potential.
“These technologies demonstrate that we are working hard to meet the goals of President Bush’s National Energy Policy,” Abraham said. “The accomplishments of these innovative researchers will benefit the entire nation.”
The five products include an electronically-tintable electrochromic glass for light and heat control; development of a sorbent to remove sulfur during coal gasification; development of a hydrogen transport ceramic membrane that separates hydrogen from gas mixtures generated by fossil fuel-based processes; optical fiber sensor technology; and virtual power plant simulation technology.
The R&D 100 Awards have been given every year since 1963 by R&D Magazine to products and processes that can change people’s lives for the better, improve the standard of living for large numbers of people, save lives, promote good health, clean up the environment, and other worthwhile endeavors. Winners in past years include Polacolor film (1963), the automated teller machine (1973), and the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992).
Eligibility rules require that the technical product be available for purchase or licensing during 2003. The successful projects were selected from a large pool of entrants from an international range of organizations including universities, corporations, and government labs.
The awards will be presented October 14 in Chicago.
The winning technologies include the following:
- SageGlass® Smart Window Glazing – Sage Electrochromics Inc., with support from NETL through cooperative agreements since 1999, has developed an electronically tintable electrochromic glass that is incorporated into building and transportation windows for control of solar light and heat. VELUX-America, the world’s largest skylight manufacturer, is the first original equipment manufacturer to go public with a commercial introduction using the SageGlass® system.
SageGlass® windows can be electronically tinted by the push of a button to control incoming sunlight and heat. The tinting level is set by the user: dark, light, or anywhere in between. According to DOE’s Core Data Book, the estimated reduction in national energy consumption from all commercialized electrochromic glazings corresponds to a reduction of crude oil imports of 122 million barrels per year.
In computer simulations, the electrochromic windows could: reduce cooling electricity consumption by up to 49 percent; lower peak electrical power demand by up to 16 percent; and decrease lighting costs by up to 51 percent for the entire building perimeter zone.
- Hydrogen Transport Membrane – Developed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, the hydrogen transport membrane is a commercially viable, dense ceramic membrane that provides pure hydrogen gas by selectively separating hydrogen from gas mixtures generated by fossil fuel processes. This includes the separation of carbon-based feedstocks and methane reforming.
This membrane has the potential to separate hydrogen from coal-gas streams. This is a key technology for the direct production of hydrogen fuel from coal.
It is capable of operating at the high temperatures and pressures required by these processes, but without being embrittled by its interactions with hydrogen and without becoming poisoned by the presence of sulfur in the feed gases.
- T-2749, Fluidized-bed Desulfurization Sorbent – Formerly known as RTI-3 sorbent, this material is a product of research efforts by RTI International and management/sponsorship by NETL. This sorbent is a highly effective, attrition-resistant and regenerable zinc-based material for use in fast fluidized-bed (transport) reactors to remove gaseous sulfur contaminants from high temperature synthesis gas generated during the coal gasification process.
Other potential candidates for gasification are petroleum coke, a waste product of the petrochemical industry; black liquor, a waste product of the paper pulping industry; and municipal solid waste. The invention of the T-2749 sorbent allows these feedstocks to become a viable source of clean energy. It also represents a major advance in the area of desulfurization. This is the only commercially available sorbent that displays the physical and chemical properties needed to remove hydrogen sulfide and carbonyl sulfide from syngas at temperatures of 500°F -1,000°F in a transport reactor system.
This technology may reduce the capital costs of coal-based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants by $60/KW to $80/KW and will improve the thermal efficiency of the system by up to 2 percentage points. The sorbent will also achieve reductions in sulfur levels exponentially compared to conventional amine systems.
- Optical Fiber Sensor Technology – Designed to operate under hostile "downhole" conditions, the optical fiber sensor technology allows efficient and economic recovery of petroleum by providing reliable, cost-effective, real-time measurement and monitoring of key physical wellbore parameters such as pressure, temperature, flow, and acoustic wave patterns. Developed by the Center for Photonics Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the technology was successfully field-tested by ChevronTexaco, and licensed to Tubel Technologies for commercial development.
- Virtual Power Plant Simulation Technology – NETL on-site researchers together with Fluent, Inc., Alstom Power, Aspen Technology, and West Virginia University developed the Aspen Plus-FLUENT Integration Toolkit. This advanced process simulation technology provides for the first time the level of detail and accuracy needed for virtual power plant simulation. The powerful software enables design engineers to better understand and optimize the fluid mechanics that drive overall process plant performance and efficiency.