NREL Honored with Three Top R&D Awards

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Sarah Holmes Barba, 303-275-3023
email: Sarah Barba

Golden, Colo., Sept. 25, 2000 - The U.S. Department of Energys National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive three R&D 100 awards this week for technologies judged by R&D Magazine to be among the year's 100 most significant innovations. The technologies identified this year include electroexploded metal nanopowders, real-time biomass analysis and a wind turbine that operates in extremely cold weather.

Electroexploded metal nanopowders are ultrafine particles of aluminum and other metals. The NREL-developed technique allows them to be made much smaller and much less expensively than previously possible. NREL principal researcher Dave Ginley and his colleagues, Calvin Curtis, Tanya Rivkin, Alex Miedaner and Doug Schulz were able to build on a technology developed through the Russian weapons program. NREL, with funding from the DOE Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) Program, worked with Argonide Corp. of Sanford, Fla., the Republican Engineering Technical Center (RITC) in Tomsk, Russia, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The nanopowders will have uses in improved lubricants, catalysts and wear and corrosion resistant coatings, as well as enhancing combustion for rocket fuels.

This is Ginley's second R&D 100 award.

Real-time biomass analysis can help analyze wood chips or pulp in a paper mill to guide operations, or analyze standing trees to allow foresters to determine their best use. NREL staff, including Bob Meglen, Stephen Kelley and Bonnie Hames developed this technique of determining the chemical characteristics of plant materials by working closely with major paper and forestry companies.

The North Wind 100/20 is a state-of-the-art wind turbine designed for operation in remote, cold-climate conditions. Special features include a direct-drive design requiring no gearbox or lubricating oil, a tilt-up assembly that doesn't require a crane and enclosed areas for turbine operation and maintenance. The North Wind 100/20 produces enough electricity to power 25 to 50 homes.

The turbine was developed with technical support from NREL, including researchers Gerry Nix and Brian Smith, and representatives from Northern Power Systems, NASA and the National Science Foundation.

"This year's R&D 100 awards recognize the Department of Energy's continued contribution to our national economic prosperity and well-being," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "Energy Department laboratories are a wellspring of innovation and I congratulate the researchers on their success."

This year's awards bring the number of R&D 100 awards won by NREL since 1982 to 28.


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