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Three NETL-Developed Technologies Recognized by R&D Magazine as Among 100 Most Significant in Past Year

June 22, 2011 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - Three technologies developed by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have been recognized by R&D Magazine as among the 100 most technologically significant products to enter the marketplace in the past year.

The technologies chosen to receive the prestigious 2011 R&D 100 Awards include a software toolkit for designing next-generation power plants, a coating for interconnects in solid oxide fuel cells, and a novel alloy for the manufacture of coronary stents. The annual awards, known as the "Oscars of Invention," are selected by an independent panel of judges and the editors of R&D Magazine. NETL manages and conducts research and development activities for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).

"I want to congratulate this year’s R&D 100 award winners. The Department of Energy’s national laboratories and sites are at the forefront of innovation, and it is gratifying to see their work recognized once again," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "The cutting-edge research and development done in our national labs and facilities is helping to meet our energy challenges, strengthen our national security and enhance our economic competitiveness."

Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have identified revolutionary technologies, many of which have become mainstays of American life. These include the digital wristwatch, antilock brakes, the automated teller machine, the halogen lamp, the fax machine, the NicoDerm® anti-smoking patch, and HDTV.

This year’s winners will be recognized at the R&D 100 Awards Banquet on October 13, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. A complete list of winning innovations is available on R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Awards website. Brief descriptions of NETL’s award-winning technologies follow:

  • APECS v2.0 with ANSYS® DesignXplorer™ and ROM Builder--The grand challenge facing the power and energy industries is the development of efficient, environmentally friendly, and affordable technologies for next-generation power production and chemical processing plants. These vital industries are relying increasingly on the use of sophisticated computer-aided process design and optimization tools, such as APECS v2.0 with ANSYS® DesignXplorer™ and ROM Builder. This versatile, innovative, and powerful software toolkit makes it easier, faster, and cheaper to design future plants with a high degree of confidence using advanced process/equipment co-simulation and comprehensive design optimization. Developed jointly by NETL and ANSYS Inc., the toolkit is a major enhancement of a previous R&D 100 Award-winning software tool, APECS v1.0 with ANSYS® Engineering Knowledge Manager™.
  • Mn-Co Coating for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Interconnects--This manganese-cobalt (Mn-Co) spinel coating was specifically tailored for interconnects of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). The coating was designed to prevent the evaporation of chromium from the ferritic stainless-steel-based interconnect while maintaining the electrical conductivity of the interconnect system. Chromium acts as a poison, increasing the resistance of the interconnect and thus reducing the electrical conductivity and operating lifetime of the fuel cell. Chromium poisoning is one of the major challenges to be overcome before SOFCs can become commercially viable power sources. The coating was co-developed by NETL and West Virginia University and was then transferred to Faraday Technology Inc. who has continued to develop and optimize the coating under Phase I and Phase III STTR grants.
  • Novel Platinum/Chromium Alloy for the Manufacture of Improved Coronary Stents--This novel alloy is the first austenitic stainless steel formulation with significant concentration of a highly "radiopaque" element to be produced for the stent industry. This high radiopacity, which increases the x-ray visibility of the stent inside a patient, is key to solving a longstanding problem of poor visibility when using standard 316 stainless steel for coronary stents. Better visibility means greater ease and precision of placement of the stent inside the patient’s artery, and less chance of damage to the artery. The alloy was jointly developed by NETL and Boston Scientific Corporation Inc. and became commercially available in Europe in 2010 and in the United States in 2011 after extensive FDA testing.