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News Release: R&D 100 Awards Honor Six NREL Innovations

Oct. 2, 2020

R&D World magazine this week presented the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with four of its annual R&D 100 Awards for research innovations. In addition to the R&D 100 Award winners, two more NREL technologies were given Special Recognition Awards.

Including this year’s winners, NREL has received 69 R&D 100 awards since 1982.

Given annually, the R&D 100 Awards honor the 100 most innovative technologies of the past year and are chosen by an independent panel of judges. WTWH Media LLC, the Cincinnati-based publisher that oversees the awards, announced the winning NREL technologies:

  • Dimethylammonium-Containing Wide-Bandgap Perovskites to form high-performance tandem solar cells that could allow vehicles to be powered directly by photovoltaics (PV). As the technology matures, the research could also enable the use of portable or wearable PV devices.
  • Dynamic Hydride Vapor Phase Epitaxy (D-HVPE) for Low-Cost III-V PV Devices provides a means to bring high-priced, high-efficiency solar technology now used in the space program down to Earth at a reasonable cost. The D-HVPE process removes key barriers to the mass production of III-V semiconductors.
  • The Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) 2.0 is a free, open-access tool that empowers users to explore least-cost pathways for large-scale power sector transformation. NREL’s flagship energy capacity planning model for the North American electricity system allows users to examine the interactions between policy, technology, economics, and the environment when integrating renewables onto the grid from now through 2050.
  • The Process for Mitigating Hydrogen Build-up in CSP Parabolic Trough Power Plants and Increasing Plant Electricity Output offers a solution to a problem that occurs as concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants age, after several years of operation. Hydrogen gas builds up within the receiver tubes of a parabolic trough plant, significantly reducing the plant’s thermal efficiency, and therefore its electricity production. NREL and Acciona Solar Power Inc. developed a process and technology to reverse the effects of hydrogen buildup in operating plants and return production to original levels.

In addition to the four R&D 100 Award winners, the judges honored two other NREL technologies with Special Recognition Awards for being “market disruptors”:

  • The Thermoplastic Resin System for Wind Turbine Blades will disrupt the wind and water power industry’s current turbine manufacturing process, enabling the production of recyclable blades that are stronger, longer, and less expensive to manufacture, increasing energy capture, decreasing energy and transportation costs, and increasing blade reliability. Developed in concert with Arkema Inc., the resin system—coupled with NREL’s thermal welding technique—allows many of the materials to be recycled and reused.
  • The Fully Renewable Polyurethane Polymers from Bioderived Oils and Amino Acids offers a product with a variety of potential uses including as a coating for tents and backpacks. Made from lipids produced by algae as well as terrestrial crops, the polyurethane polymers have the potential for complete biodegradation and even upcycling.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.