R&D 100 Awards Honor NREL Research

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George Douglas 303-275-4096
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Golden, Colo., Sept. 21, 1999 — Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory will be honored Thursday with two R&D 100 awards. The awards are given each year by the editors of R&D Magazine for what they consider to be among the year's 100 most significant innovations.

For 1999, the magazine identified NREL's Advanced Direct-Contact Condenser as among the most important technological advances. NREL's other R&D 100 award came for the lab's part in the development of Siemens Solar Industries' high-performance thin film photovoltaic modules.

The condenser technology, developed by NREL's Desikan Bharathan, increases the efficiency and generating capacity in electric power plants while reducing pollution. This is accomplished by using sophisticated geometric shapes to provide the best surface area for condensing spent steam.

Recently, geothermal power plant operators using the NREL technology in California improved electricity production efficiency by 5 percent, increased potential generating capacity by nearly 17 percent and cut in half the cost of emissions treatment. This is Bharathan's second R&D 100 award.

NREL's Vahab Hassani, Federica Zangrando, Ed Hoo, Mark Anselmo and Yves Parent also worked on the condenser technology, with funding from the DOE's Office of Geothermal Technologies. The technology was demonstrated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and now is marketed by Alstom Energy Systems of Easton, Pa.

NREL's second 1999 R&D 100 award recognized the high efficiency of photovoltaic modules that convert sunlight into electricity using copper indium diselenide based solar cells. In tests conducted at NREL, the Siemens Solar modules demonstrated efficiencies of more than 12 percent, by far the highest of any commercial thin film module.

The solar modules were developed with the support from the Department of Energy/NREL Thin Film Photovoltaic Partnership program. Thin film PV modules, such as the Siemens Solar product, have the potential of greatly reducing the cost of solar electricity and providing a wide range of new products with mass appeal. Members of NREL's Thin Film PV Partnership program include Harin Ullal, Ken Zweibel and Bolko Von Roedern. Congratulating the NREL winners, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said, "These awards are both a tribute to the impressive creativity of the scientists and engineers at our national labs that made these technologies possible and recognition of the practical contributions that Department of Energy research makes to the country."

This year's awards are the 24th and 25th won by NREL since 1982, highlighting the substantial contributions the lab has made to the development of clean energy technologies.

The R&D 100 awards banquet will be at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, Thursday, Sept. 23.


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