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PNNL recognized for bringing clean energy innovations to marketplace

Lab earns two Federal Laboratory Consortium awards for transferring technology

January 28, 2009 Share This!

  • This small device makes electricity whenever there's a temperature difference across its two ends. Perpetua Power Source Technologies is marketing this Power Puck, which uses the Thermoelectric Ambient Energy Harvester technology developed at PNNL. Photo courtesy of Perpetua Power Source Technologies.

  • Long-haul trucks and other vehicles can use air conditioning when the engine is turned off with auxiliary power units like this one. Delphi Corp. makes the units with solid oxide fuel cells developed at PNNL. Photo courtesy of Delphi Corp.

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RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been recognized for transferring two technologies to the commercial sector that create clean energy.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium has honored PNNL with two 2009 awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer, the consortium announced today. The consortium is a nationwide network that encourages federal laboratories to transfer lab-developed technologies to commercial markets. PNNL has received a total of 69 FLC awards, more than any other federal laboratory since the recognition program began in 1984.

To earn the awards, PNNL developed technologies and partnered with private companies. These partnerships then helped create and sell devices that generate electricity out of natural temperature differences in the environment and use solid oxide fuel cells to produce auxiliary power. An explanation of these technologies and how PNNL transferred them is below.

Thermoelectric Ambient Energy Harvester
The Thermoelectric Ambient Energy Harvester produces electricity whenever there is a temperature difference across the device’s two ends. Energy harvesters replace or extend the life of traditional batteries used in wireless sensors or radio frequency transmitters. Not having to travel to remote locations to check on batteries in equipment that monitors the integrity of dams or pipelines, for example, saves valuable time and money. Energy harvesters are expected to last as long as the sensors and transmitters they power.

First developed by PNNL, the energy harvester technology was introduced to the private sector when a group of University of Oregon graduate students created a business plan and marketing strategy for the technology through the joint UO/PNNL Technology Entrepreneurship Program. Along with technology veterans from Hewlett-Packard, one of the students founded Perpetua Power Source Technologies to commercialize the technology. The Corvallis, Ore.-based company received an exclusive license from PNNL to incorporate the technology into its new product called the Perpetua Power Puck™. It’s currently being marketed for industrial automation, military and other uses.

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells as Auxiliary Power Sources
PNNL is a recognized leader in developing solid oxide fuel cells, which cleanly and efficiently produce electricity from a wide variety of fuel sources. Battelle, which operates PNNL, teamed with the Michigan-based Delphi Corp. to develop cost-effective solid oxide fuel cells, which are then used in Delphi-developed auxiliary power units for transportation uses.

Among their many uses, the fuel cell auxiliary power units allow long-haul truckers to listen to the radio and to use air conditioning when the engine is turned off. In the future, the power units could also be used in combined heat and power systems and clean coal power plants. PNNL expects this improved technology to play a critical role in improving energy-efficient power generation.

The awards will be presented in May at the consortium’s annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

Business inquiries on the award-winning technologies or other PNNL innovations can be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or techcomm@pnl.gov.

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fuel Cells, Batteries

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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