News Release: NREL to Receive R & D 100 Awards at Annual Awards Ceremony

Oct. 19, 2005 | By Sarah Barba | Contact media relations

Golden, Colo. — The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will receive two R&D 100 awards during a black tie awards ceremony hosted by Research & Development (R&D) Magazine on Oct. 20 at Chicago's Navy Pier.

The Laboratory's R&D 100 Awards for 2005 are for an energy modeling software that determines building energy consumption and cost effective energy efficiency upgrades for buildings and a silicon testing system that helps manufacturers determine the quality of silicon material in the early stage of solar cell production.

The energy modeling software, called TREAT 2.6 for Targeted Residential Energy Analysis Tools, is a comprehensive energy analysis tool that models building energy consumption and identifies the most cost effective energy efficiency upgrades for both single-family and multifamily buildings. TREAT is based on SUNREL, a building energy simulation tool developed by NREL in the mid-1980s with several updates over time, and uses SUNREL to execute the heat and mass transfer calculations required for a detailed energy simulation of a building. The tool gives building performance contractors and energy auditors a competitive edge in the areas of accurate energy-use analysis, energy efficiency improvement options and customer confidence.

NREL shares the 2005 R&D 100 Award for TREAT with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its partners Taitem Engineering, Inc. and Performance Systems Development. NYSERDA sponsored the development of TREAT.

NREL researchers who worked on this project are Michael Deru, Ron Judkoff and Paul Torcellini.

The Sinton QSSPC Silicon Evaluation System is a method of detecting impurities and defects in silicon boules — the material from which solar cells are made — before it is sliced into waters to be used in silicon solar cell manufacturing lines. A boule tester sends short pulses of infrared light into the boule and measures minority-carrier lifetime in p- or n-type silicon. Using radio frequency (RF) sensing, the tester determines quasi-steady-state photoconductance (QSSPC), then uses this information to calculate the bulk minority-carrier lifetime. Next it calibrates the results of the photoconductance analysis to determine the absolute lifetime and then determines grain structure and calculates levels of unwanted impurities. This process gives manufacturers information to identify substandard silicon before it is made into cells, thereby increasing the number of efficient cells produced, boosting yields and reducing manufacturing costs. The evaluation system will enable the solar industry to keep up with product demand and growth and to produce consistently better silicon at the lowest possible price.

The award is shared by NREL and Sinton Consulting, Inc. NREL researchers who worked on this project are David Mooney and Katie Brown.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.