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NETL Earns Carnegie Science Awards for Advanced Materials, Corporate Innovation

March 5, 2013 - 9:16am


WASHINGTON, D.C. — For its leadership and innovation in science and technology, the National Energy Technology Laboratory has earned two Carnegie Science Awards from the Carnegie Science Center. NETL representatives will pick up the Advanced Materials Award and the Corporate Innovation Award at the 17th annual award ceremony to be held May 3, 2013, at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh.

The Carnegie Science Center established the Carnegie Science Awards program in 1997 “to recognize and promote innovation in science and technology across western Pennsylvania.” The awards not only identify the innovators of today who make a global impact with their novel ideas and technologies, they also encourage tomorrow’s leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

NETL’s platinum-chromium (Pt-Cr) alloy was selected for the Advanced Materials Award, which honors “accomplishments in materials science that create new materials or properties leading to significant business, economic, or societal benefits for the region.”

Recognizing NETL’s expertise in alloy formulation and production, Boston Scientific contacted NETL in 2000 to partner in the design and production of a new alloy for coronary stents. Developed collaboratively by scientists from both organizations, the Pt Cr alloy solves many of the past problems surrounding traditional stents. The addition of platinum allows a stent to be both thin and visible on x-ray.  Increased flexibility enables easier movement through arterial bends without causing damage. The addition of high-melting platinum gives the stent a higher corrosion resistance, which optimizes the stent’s long-term stability within the body. The alloy’s increased strength decreases recoil, reducing the likelihood of constriction after deployment. Being stronger, thinner, more flexible, and easier to see on x-ray results in greater patient safety, lower healthcare costs, and better long-term prognosis for the patient.

Since their introduction in 2010, these stents have generated more than $4 billion in sales worldwide and captured 45 percent of the U.S. coronary stent market and 33 percent of the global market. This dramatic global adoption is a tribute to the Pt-Cr stent’s unprecedented effectiveness. In late 2012, BSC received approval for Pt-Cr stents to be used in the treatment of peripheral artery disease, particularly in the legs, where the stents have dramatically reduced the risk of death and limb amputation for patients with this disease.

The stent systems have created more than 300 new, high-paying jobs at Boston Scientific and an additional 150 high-paying jobs in the supply line, including 50 at the Pennsylvania-based metal company that produces the Pt-Cr alloy.

A national resource centered in energy-rich Pittsburgh, NETL-RUA will receive the Corporate Innovation Award, given to “an organization or representative of an organization that develops and encourages an environment that promotes innovation in science or technology.”

The Alliance combines the facilities, expertise, and resources of NETL with those of five world-renowned research universities: Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University. NETL-RUA research and technology development protect human health and the environment, reduce the energy sector’s carbon footprint, find uses for mitigated CO2, and ensure energy security. Examples include—

  • The first-of-its-kind Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research (AVESTAR™) Center to train advanced power plant operators.
  • The Pyrochem Catalyst, which converts heavy hydrocarbons, such as diesel and coal-based fuels, into hydrogen-rich synthesis gas for fuel cells.
  • The Harbison Walker refractory material for high-wear areas of advanced, high-temperature gasifiers—a clean, efficient means of producing electricity.
  • The first Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI) Toolset: computational tools and models to speed the development and deployment of carbon capture technologies

The Alliance is improving power generation efficiencies; reducing CO2 separation costs; demonstrating CO2 capture, utilization, and storage to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuel use; and reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign energy supplies by investigating domestic alternatives, such as methane hydrates, deep drilling, shale gas, and enhanced oil recovery.