Every year, R&D Magazine chooses 100 cutting edge projects that represent the “best of the best” in scientific, technological, engineering research and development. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), through its ongoing support of technological progress, is often a sponsor of the magazine’s awardees. This year, EERE supported 11 winners.
The Fuel Cell Technologies Office supported:
- Research into Clean-Energy Electrocatalysts Without Precious Metals as an alternative to the prohibitively expensive platinum and platinum-group metal catalysts currently used in fuel cell electrodes to make the next generation of fuel cells more cost effective.
- Support Zirconia Electrochemical Hydrogen Safety Sensor, a low-cost, reliable hydrogen safety sensor for vehicle and infrastructure applications.
The Geothermal Technologies Office
- Co-fund an effort (with Golder Associates and Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL]) to commercialize the Discrete Fracture Network Modeling Suite (dfnWorks). This is a parallelized computational suite that generates three-dimensional discrete fracture networks and simulates flow and transport through fractured rock. Applications for dfnWorks include maximizing the extraction of natural gas, oil, and geothermal wells while minimizing environmental impacts.
- Support LANL’s High-Temperature Electric Submersible Pump Motor, which offers improved thermal performance compared with conventional submersible pumps used in deep underground, extremely hot environments; also provide some support for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s work incorporating a proprietary nanomaterial into a new cooling system, using heat to drive the cooling process instead of electricity.
The Vehicles Technologies Office (VTO) supported Oak Ridge National Laboratory to:
- Develop new affordable, lightweight aluminum alloy that retains more strength at higher temperatures. This research is expected to help improve automotive fuel efficiency by enabling higher engine temperatures.
- Research innovative filler materials to minimize the residual stresses and distortions caused by heating and melting during welding and 3D printing.
VTO also supported Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to:
- Create an innovative method to join dissimilar materials without the need for additional adhesives, fasteners, or surface cleaning. Automotive manufacturers can now incorporate new and different lightweight materials into a variety of parts, from sub-frames to roofs, without sacrificing strength or durability.
In conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Advanced Manufacturing Office supported:
- ACE: The Ageless Aluminum Revolution, with Ames National Laboratory, Eck Industries, Livermore National Laboratory and Critical Materials Institute. Lightweight materials such as aluminum alloys can help substantially increase the efficiency of vehicles and airplanes.
- Additively Printed High Performance Magnets, with Ames National Laboratory, Critical Materials Institute, Tru-Design, Magnet Applications Inc., and Momentum Technologies. For the first time, Oak Ridge National Laboratory used its Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) method to 3D print additively printed high performance magnets. In comparison to other magnets, bonded magnets are less expensive and less resource-intensive to produce.
- Large-Format Additive Coating Solutions, with Tru-Design and Polynt Composites. Large-scale 3D printing can quickly produce prototypes and molds, but the parts produced are not smooth or vacuum-tight. This project uses a nano-scale filler, which covers the rough exterior of a printed part and creates a vacuum-tight seal.
- TEAMM – Electrafil PPS 3D and Electrafil PPSU 3D, Techmer PM and BASF. Techmer Engineered Additive Manufacturing Materials (TEAMM) are new plastic and carbon fiber compounds that are especially designed for 3D printing. Manufacturers can use these materials to produce molds for composite panels and parts.
We salute the winners of this year’s award and look forward to the amazing work that will be accomplished in 2018.