May 30, 2023
Staff Accomplishment

Daniel Deng Named 2022 PNNL Inventor of the Year

Research engineer honored for advancements in environmental monitoring

Daniel Deng

Daniel Deng was named 2022 PNNL Inventor of the Year for contributing to significant advancements in environmental monitoring. Only 18 other inventors in PNNL history have received this distinction.

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Zhiqun (Daniel) Deng, mechanical engineer and Laboratory Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), has been named 2022 PNNL Inventor of the Year.

Deng received the honor in May 2023 at the PNNL Pathway to Excellence event, which recognizes staff for achievements that have helped enhance PNNL’s reputation internationally, nationally, regionally, and locally. Only 18 others in PNNL history share his distinction as Inventor of the Year.

Deng expressed appreciation for his current and past collaborators, research associates, and students, and credited teamwork, mentors, and his family for shaping and supporting his career over the years. “I am truly humbled to receive this award,” said Deng.

Since joining PNNL, Deng has worked and collaborated to address a broad range of engineering and ecological issues, with emphasis on environmental monitoring and risk assessment for hydropower, wind, marine, and hydrokinetic energy systems. He is the primary inventor with licensed technologies in acoustic telemetry, environmental sensing, and energy storage. He also leads the accredited multi-disciplinary Bio-Acoustics and Flow Laboratory at PNNL. 

Over the years, Deng has worked to develop and commercialize an award-winning suite of monitoring technologies that provide the smallest and most lightweight wildlife tags available. These technologies enable better understanding of wildlife behavior, such as how bats behave around wind turbine installations, for environmental studies.

Among his current pursuits, Deng is working to advance cylindrical triboelectric nanogenerator technology to efficiently convert the energy in waves into electricity to power devices in the open ocean, where monitoring and access are challenging and costly.

In addition to the PNNL Inventor of the Year honor, Deng was recognized at the event for five new patents granted in 2022—including four related to transmitters for monitoring wildlife and one for a redox flow battery innovation—bringing his impressive U.S. patent portfolio to 14. He was also honored for a commercially licensed data filtering software that enables real-time behavior and survival information of tagged animals and integration of environmental sensors.

"Daniel's inventions have had a huge impact on how we understand the interactions between renewables and the environments where they're deployed,” said TJ Heibel, PNNL renewable power program manager. “I have no doubt his work will continue to help ensure a more sustainable clean energy transition."