Two R&D 100 Awards for Biomass and Solar Breakthrough Technologies

August 10, 2004

Two technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory are among this year's most significant innovations, as judged by Research & Development (R&D) Magazine.

The Laboratory's two R&D 100 Awards for 2004 are for an innovative, lower-cost method for transforming plant material into the sugars that can be used to make fuels and chemicals, and a thin-film solar cell that produces electricity directly from sunlight, which has greater efficiency, and is lighter weight and more flexible than previous devices.

This year's announcement brings to 37 the number of R&D 100 Awards garnered by NREL.

"Once again, the technologies developed by our Laboratory's researchers are being acknowledged for their importance to the nation," said Stan Bull, NREL associate director for science and technology. "It's particularly gratifying that the R&D 100 Awards this year include two NREL technologies that can enhance our nation's energy security and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil."

The Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Biomass Cellulose to Sugars technology is expected to allow a wide range of biomass resources to be used to produce energy and chemicals. It is an important step toward realizing the potential of bio-refineries—in which plant and waste materials are used to produce an array of fuels and chemicals, analogous to an oil refinery today.

Through this technology, the cost of converting cellulosic biomass into usable sugars can be reduced by more than 20 times per gallon of ethanol produced.

The award is shared by NREL, Genencor International and Novozymes Biotech, Inc. NREL researchers who worked on this project included Michael Himmel, Jim McMillan, Dan Schell, Jody Farmer, Nancy Dowe and Rafael Nieves.

Also recognized for 2004 are light and flexible thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) photovoltaic modules, which can be manufactured in various sizes and have a compact, foldable design that allows for easy deployment, transport and storage.

As a result, the modules have twice the power-to-weight ratio, and three times the power-to-size ratio as competing products. Because of this, they are especially suited for military applications, portable power for consumer and public use, boating and other marine applications and building-related uses, such as for bus shelters and in PV-integrated roofing.

The award is shared by NREL, Global Solar Energy and ITN Energy Systems. NREL researchers who worked on this project included Harin Ullal, Ken Zweibel and Bolko von Roedern.

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.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Explore further: Ethylene production via sunlight opens door to future

Related Stories

Ethylene production via sunlight opens door to future

August 2, 2015

Here's the future of ethylene production as Dr. Jianping Yu sees it. "We envision some farms in the field that cover many acres. We will have cyanobacteria harvesting sunlight and C02 and then produce ethylene or ethylene ...

Reviving algae from the (almost) dead

November 3, 2014

Tucked away in darkness and almost dead, algae can emerge from a frigid and foggy environment to live again—and perhaps even become the seeds for a new beginning that can provide biofuel for a clean energy future.

Partnerships drive new transportation solutions

October 27, 2014

Hybrid car sales have taken off in recent years, with a fuel-sipping combination of electric- and gas-powered technologies that simultaneously deliver energy efficiency, low emissions, and strong performance. The Energy Department's ...

HP supercomputer at NREL garners top honor

October 21, 2014

A supercomputer created by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that uses warm water to cool its servers, and then re-uses that water to heat its building, has been ...

NREL supercomputer tackles grid challenges

July 1, 2014

"Big data" is playing an increasingly big role in the renewable energy industry and the transformation of the nation's electrical grid, and no single entity provides a better tool for such data than the Energy Department's ...

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

For 2-D boron, it's all about that base

September 2, 2015

Rice University scientists have theoretically determined that the properties of atom-thick sheets of boron depend on where those atoms land.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.