August 17, 2020
Staff Accomplishment

Four Staff at PNNL Win Awards for Outstanding Contributions

Marine energy and building-grid initiative work recognized

EERE Awards

Four PNNL researchers were honored with Assistant Secretary Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards for their contributions to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Coastal Sciences Advisor Simon Geerlofs and Marine Energy Manager David Hume were named among the team award recipients supporting the DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office’s (WPTO) Powering the Blue Economy initiative. Nikitha Radhakrishnan, an electrical engineer, and Ellen Franconi, a simulation mechanical engineer, were recognized with a team award for work expanding the Building Technologies Office’s (BTO’s) Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) Initiative.

Making waves in the blue economy

Both Geerlofs and Hume worked on assignment for WPTO supporting Powering the Blue Economy with the WPTO team. The initiative focuses on accelerating growth in the blue economy, which refers to the sustainable use of the ocean and its connected waterways. Geerlofs’ emphasis was on developing strategy and launching the initiative.

“The Powering the Blue Economy initiative recognizes that marine energy is an important sector of the blue economy, and that energy innovation underlies the success of many other blue economy sectors and coastal community resilience. By asking our partners ‘how can we put marine energy to work for you’, we join a community of innovators working to reexamine our relationship with the ocean to deliver environmental, social, and economic benefits. I’ve spent my career thinking about how to bring problem solvers and innovators from energy, ocean science, and coastal communities together; working directly with the WPTO and its many partners on this initiative has been a high point,” Geerlofs said.

Hume’s role in supporting the Powering the Blue Economy initiative included strategy formation, stakeholder engagement, technical scoping of funding activities such as prize competitions, and making the case for new opportunity spaces for marine renewable energy, such as ocean plastic remediation or maritime industry decarbonization. Hume manages the first-ever Ocean Observing Prize.

“To be recognized across the organization for our work is a wonderful external validation that we are on the right path and making progress in our efforts to uncover novel applications for marine renewable energy,” Hume said. “As a self-described ocean nerd, I feel extremely fortunate that via WPTO and PNNL, that I am able to work on so many cross-cutting ocean technologies that may help society move towards a more sustainable ocean economy.”

The other members of the Powering the Blue Economy team award were WPTO representatives and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow.

Building the grid

In keeping with BTO’s goals to improve energy savings, the GEB Initiative is looking at leveraging demand flexibility with automation and automatic technologies.

EERE Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons recognized a team working on the GEB initiative that included Franconi, Radhakrishnan, and staff from DOE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Radhakrishnan, who works on detail with BTO, provides technical assistance related to the office’s portfolio helping with strategy, research directives, and stakeholder engagement. She is leading the development of a road map for the sensors and controls portfolio within the emerging technologies team.

“It’s validating of my efforts to the initiative. Being recognized for how important the work is to BTO and EERE is great. I consider myself an early career researcher so getting this award at this point in my career is really exciting,” Radhakrishnan said.

Franconi contributed to the initiative with her work on building energy codes. Along with a team, Franconi evaluated model energy codes and analyzed how to improve and advance residential and commercial building codes. She analyzed GEB savings using PNNL code prototype models.

“I’m pleased that our work was recognized, especially since our work is applications oriented,” Franconi said.