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1996 News Releases

Access news stories about the laboratory and renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

NREL News Briefs

December 1996

Two NREL Staffers Receive Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Awards

Two NREL employees recently received Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Awards for their participation in a team that made significant contributions to reinventing government and streamlining procedures within the Department of Energy (DOE). Dan Cornell and John Shaffer helped rewrite a set of DOE regulations, which resulted in the reduction of 1,800 pages to 10. The Hammer Awards — lapel pins in the shape of tiny hammers — symbolize building a government that works better and costs less.

NREL to Receive Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer

NREL will receive two awards for excellence in technology transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC). The first award, for the development and transfer of a variable conductance vacuum insulated catalytic converter to eliminate cold start emissions, goes to Dave Benson, Steve Burch, Matt Keyser, Tom Potter, Ed Tracy, Robert Rehn, Terry Penney, Richard Voss and Andreas Vlahinos. Research and Development Magazine also selected the converter to receive a 1996 R & D 100 Award as one of the 100 most important innovations of the year. Benteler Industries of Grand Rapids, Mich., is commercializing the new catalytic converter which reduces total automotive pollution by more than 80 percent. The second award, for the development and transfer of a tandem solar cell for powering satellites, goes to Jerry Olson, Sarah Kurtz, Alan Kibbler, Charlene Kramer and Daniel Friedman. The tandem cell, which uses two cells integrated into one device, has a record-setting 29.5 percent efficiency (amount of sunlight converted into electricity). The device's top cell is gallium indium phosphide; the bottom cell is gallium arsenide. The cell technology is being transferred to suppliers of solar cells for satellites, but could also provide the edge to make cost-effective concentrator systems, which concentrate sunlight onto the cell and increases the production of electricity, for use on Earth. The FLC represents more than 600 federally funded labs.

NREL To Host Thermophotovoltaic Conference

NREL's Third Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) Generation of Electricity Conference will be held May 18 - 21, 1997, in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the Antlers Doubletree Hotel. The conference will bring together researchers, developers and users of this emerging technology. Speakers from private industry, universities and federal laboratories will provide information on the most significant areas of TPV generation of electricity. TPV cells convert radiant heat energy to electricity in much the same way as solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

NREL Engineer Selected for International Rotary Exchange

Sheila Hayter, associate engineer in NREL's Center for Building and Thermal Systems, has been selected by the Golden Rotary Club to participate in a Rotary International Group Study Exchange Program to Bangladesh later this month. Hayter will have the opportunity to build relationships with political and civic leaders and exchange information about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

October 1996

NREL Wins Environmental Technologies Award

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation awarded $15 million in grants to universities, industry and DOE laboratories to conduct research leading to more environmentally sound and energy-efficient industrial processes. NREL and Ames Research Laboratory received $425,000 to develop infrared sensing, computer technology and artificial intelligence controls to improve energy efficiency in the pulp and paper industry.

October is American Energy Month

DOE designated October 1996 as American Energy Month. The goal is to promote a greater public understanding and awareness of energy sources, how they can be used more effectively, and the importance of energy to the economic prosperity and future of America. Clean Energy for a Competitive America is the theme of the 1996 observance. Educational and information materials are available through the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse at (800) 363-3732 and NREL's Visitors Center at 15013 Denver West Parkway in Golden. The Visitors Center is open Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Solar Home Tour Opens Doors

The National Tour of Solar Homes will open the doors of over 200 solar-powered homes Oct. 19 in 50 communities nationwide. The tour, sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society, is designed to increase public awareness of solar energy technologies and demonstrate what it's like to live in houses that use renewable energy sources. Homeowners will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to answer questions and discuss the technologies. Locally, the NREL Visitors Center, which features a passive solar building design, will be a starting point for the tour. The Visitors Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Utility Photovoltaic Conference Comes to Denver

The Utility PhotoVoltaic Group will hold its annual Utility PV Experience Exhibition and Conference (UPEx) in Lakewood, Colo., Oct. 15 - 18, 1996. Exhibitors and speakers at UPEx will present results and discuss lessons learned from photovoltaic (PV, solar electricity) technologies not yet commercialized and exhibit solar products which have resulted from increased public and private sector investment in utility PV. UPEx is sponsored jointly by NREL, the Edison Electric Institute, the Electric Power Research Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, DOE and the Western Area Power Administration.

September 1996

NREL Receives Award for its Support of Small Businesses

Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary recently presented NREL with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Secretarial Small Business Award in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the laboratory's continued support of DOE's Small Business Program. In fiscal year 1995, 77 percent of NREL's total procurements were awarded to small companies.

Solar Thermal System Provides Hot Water for Jefferson County Detention Center

A solar thermal system manufactured by Industrial Solar Technology — one of NREL's first spinoff companies — will provide more than 8,000 gallons of hot water daily to inmates at the Jefferson County Detention Center in Colorado starting in October. The county will purchase energy from the privately-owned, parabolic trough system at a 15 percent discount, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars annually. Parabolic trough systems use reflectors to focus concentrated sunlight onto a fluid-carrying tube. The project is one of several now being showcased by Jefferson County to encourage wise energy use and reduce air pollution.

Installation of Solar Skylight Highlights Promising New Building Technology

The first installation of photovoltaic (PV, solar electricity) window glazing in a federal building will take place this month at the Presidio in San Francisco. Through NREL and the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the building will showcase a promising new technology that incorporates PV into building materials. The PV skylight designed by NREL and funded by FEMP will produce energy and also allow daylight. FEMP funds energy projects to increase energy savings and awareness of energy-efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Enterprise Growth Forums Unite Renewable Energy Companies with the Financial World

The sixth NREL Enterprise Growth Forum, hosted in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, will be held Oct. 1 and 2, 1996, in Albuquerque, N.M. NREL-sponsored Enterprise Growth Forums link renewable energy companies with the investment community by providing first-hand knowledge of emerging companies and technologies. The forums offer a venue in which renewable energy companies, trade associations, financial institutions, businesses, government and academia can interact and investigate promising opportunities. The upcoming forum will focus on industrial ecology and New Mexico business development.

NREL's Visitors Center Offers Something for Everyone

NREL's Visitors Center offers tours of its exhibit hall and educational information about renewable energy and energy efficiency. Individuals and groups are welcome to explore interactive exhibits and learn how resources like the sun and wind can fulfill our energy needs. Renewable energy systems use environmentally friendly resources that are constantly replaced and less polluting than conventional energy resources. The Visitors Center is free and open to the public Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

May 1996

Windpower 96 Conference Coming to Denver

WINDPOWER '96, the 26th annual conference and exhibition of the American Wind Energy Association, will be held June 23 - 27, 1996, at the Denver Marriott City Center. The conference will open with addresses by Rep. Dan Schaefer and Christine Ervin, assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Schaefer is Chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. WINDPOWER '96 conference sessions will address international markets for wind energy, electric utility restructuring, wind energy finance and economics, wind resource assessment and the latest technology advances. The conference will also feature a tour of NREL's National Wind Technology Center on June 27. A press luncheon and special press tour of the NWTC also will be held June 27.

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Design Competition Winners Announced

Nine architectural design projects recently received awards in the Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (solar) Design competition cosponsored by DOE and NREL. The competition sought innovative solutions to the problem of integrating solar technology into buildings. In building-integrated solar systems, components of the building skin — such as exterior wall glazings or overhead skylights — are replaced with solar panels. The two competition submission categories were to integrate solar into the design of a Visitors' Pavilion for Sports in America located in Washington, D.C., and an "open submissions" category for new ideas or work in progress. Winning designs from architects and building firms from four states and the Netherlands were announced at the American Institute of Architects annual convention. The projects will be on display in July at the DOE Showcase of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and at the NREL Visitor Center beginning in August.

Energy-10 Program To Be Debuted at Planet Hollywood

The Energy-10 computer program, a design tool for architects and engineers that is especially applicable to small commercial and residential buildings, will be announced June 4 at a New York City Planet Hollywood media event sponsored by the Passive Solar Industries Council (PSIC). NREL's J. Douglas (Doug) Balcomb earlier this year won DOE's Ericsson Award for his collaboration with PSIC and the National Association of Home Builders which produced Builderguide, a user-friendly computer-based spreadsheet that calculates local specific energy performance and comfort for residences. Balcomb has enhanced and extended his basic approach to Energy-10, making energy-efficient design techniques widely available to the private sector.

NREL Researchers Receive Federal Laboratory Award

NREL researchers recently received the 1996 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium in Seattle. NREL's Greg Glatzmaier, Kent Scholl, Mark Anselmo and former employee Rasit Koc received the award for their success in developing a process for making a high quality silicon carbide powder in response to the needs of Coors Ceramics. NREL's two-step process for use in sintering high-performance silicon-carbide ceramic components produces powder that is of very high quality for about one-half the current cost. Sintered silicon carbide is a ceramic with excellent corrosion resistance, wear resistance and strength at high temperatures. Coors holds a license for the process and plans to build a manufacturing facility to produce the powder.

NREL Engineer in Austria on Rotary Exchange

Greg Labrie, work control engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is participating in an exchange program between Austria and the United States until June 8, 1996, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Golden and Rotary International. The purpose of the program is to promote cultural understanding and share information among international business members and professionals in Austria and the US. The exchange and will offer Labrie the opportunity to increase the awareness of renewable energy in an international forum.

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