Features - December 2016

R&D 100 Awards: NETL’s 2016 Game-Changers


For over 100 years, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has been a force for positive change in the energy sector. Based on a solid foundation of research excellence, technology transfer, and successful partnerships, NETL has developed a reputation of excellence and has a history of recognition to match. For years, NETL has been receiving accolades for our work—tangible evidence of the success of our laboratory, from our programs to our people.

Over the last 20 years, NETL has been recognized through awards given to our scientists and research partners, but also to our successful programs. Our technologies have garnered 33 regional and national awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium, as well as 50 R&D 100 Awards.

The R&D 100 awards are often referred to as the “Oscars of innovation.” For over 50 years, R&D magazine, a publication dedicated to research and development efforts across the globe, has been recognizing excellence in technological innovations—honoring the efforts put forth by the scientists and engineers and bolstering the success of new, ground-breaking technology. Past winners of an R&D 100 award include the automated teller machine (1973), the fax machine (1975), halogen lamps (1974), the liquid crystal display (1980), and HDTV (1998).


This year, NETL is excited to be the recipient of three individual R&D 100 Awards for innovations it discovered and developed that were judged by an independent panel to be among the most significant game-changing technologies of the year. These three award-winning innovations are just a few of the Laboratory’s initiatives, which seek to discover, integrate, and mature technologies that enhance the nation’s energy security and protect the environment for future generations:

HVAC Load Reduction Technology for Commercial BuildingsLeveraging the laboratory’s proven expertise in sorbent technology development, NETL partnered with enVerid Systems to create unique multi-functional sorbents that can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and volatile organic compounds at ambient temperatures and which regenerate below 60 degrees Celsius. With these new sorbents, enVerid was able to develop an HVAC load reduction (HLR) technology, which uses a module integrated into existing HVAC systems to scrub the air of dangerous indoor air contaminants. This technology helps to reduce energy use and lower costs by recirculating the already-cooled inside air.

Computationally Optimized Heat Treatment of Metal Alloys—Conventional processes for homogenizing metal alloys are trial-and-error in their approach, resulting in increased process cost and limits to the possible paths that may be explored. NETL’s Computationally Optimized Homogenization Heat Treatment Process provides an easy method to optimize heat treatment to achieve the desired degree of homogenization with a minimum of furnace time.

The primarily application for this technology is for alloys that are exposed to extreme environments, including heat-resistant alloys or those needing corrosion/oxidation resistance. A properly homogenized alloy will not only perform better but will also have an extended lifecycle.

Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI) Toolset—The CCSI Toolset is the only suite of computational tools and models specifically tailored to help maximize learning and reduce risk during the scale-up process for carbon-capture technologies. This is critically important because carbon-capture pilot projects represent an expensive, limited opportunity to collect the data necessary to move to commercial scale. Each module in the toolset is specifically tailored to properly guide experimental and pilot-scale testing to acquire important data.

By maximizing the learning during such pilot projects, the CCSI Toolset can help reduce the timeline for subsequent commercialization and enable greater investment confidence. Companies using the CCSI Toolset can ensure more effective scale-up, and government funding agencies can have greater confidence in the success of expensive, large-scale projects.