July 3, 2019

Promising Energy Technologies Funded to Move Closer to Market

DOE and industry-matched funds total more than $7 million

Power lines at sunset

Several of PNNL's TCF-awarded projects will focus on making the U.S. power grid more reliable, secure, and safe from cyberattacks.   

Advanced sensors used to study fish passage through hydroelectric dams. A process to extract rare earth elements at geothermal power plants that could provide energy producers with large revenue streams. Tools that will make our nation's power grid more secure and reliable.

These are among the 11 energy-related technologies developed at PNNL that are now a step closer to the marketplace, thanks to additional development funding. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will provide more than $3.5 million through the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). Matching funds from industry partners bring the total budget for PNNL-related projects to more than $7 million.

“TCF funds are allocated to strengthen partnerships between DOE national labs and companies with the sole purpose of moving intellectual properties to private industry where they can make a real difference in people’s lives,” said Lee Cheatham, PNNL’s director of Technology Deployment and Outreach. “We’re pleased that OTT selected to invest in PNNL’s diverse energy research portfolio. Our partnership with a leading company on each of these projects offers the potential to make a measurable impact in the U.S. energy sector.”

Acoustic sensors used to monitor fish migration over hydroelectric dams
Researchers will further develop and test acoustic sensors used to study fish survival rates over hydroelectric dams.

In total, DOE recently announced that it will provide $24 million in TCF funds to 77 projects across the DOE national laboratory system. The funds supplied by the federal agency are matched by private business partners. Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, TCF is a program that connects companies with national laboratories. Together, they mature energy technologies that have the potential for high impact in the U.S. marketplace—speeding innovations toward commercialization and actual products.

PNNL projects awarded 2019 TCF funding include:

  • Accelerated Data Analytics for Power-system Time-Series (ADAPT)
    Industry partners: PingThings, Dominion Energy, and the Bonneville Power Administration

    A toolbox of advanced signal processing and event-detection methods to accompany PingThings’ PredictiveGrid
    TM platform will be developed. The toolbox will enable utilities to rapidly read, process, analyze, and review synchrophasor measurements.

  • Advanced Membranes for Redox Flow Batteries
    Industry partners: UniEnergy Technologies, LLC and the Chemours Company

    The team will develop, test, and demonstrate advanced membranes that will improve the conductivity, energy efficiency, and storage capacity of the commercial vanadium redox flow battery system, which is currently used to store large amounts of renewable energy and provide greater stability to the nation’s energy grid.
  • Autonomous Acoustic Receiver for 3D Tracking of Fish in Real Time Over Hydropower Dams
    Industry partner: Advanced Telemetry Systems

    An autonomous, 3D, acoustic receiver system for monitoring survival rate in real time as fish travel over hydroelectric dams will be further developed and tested by PNNL and ATS.
  • Deception Defense for Cyber-Physical Systems
    Industry partner: Attivo Networks

    The team will create a higher fidelity tool for use on cyber-physical systems designed to monitor and control physical processes like the nation’s power grid. The tool will include threat detection and a decoy that will occupy a hacker’s attention, while preventing an attack on the real system.
  • Deploying Intra-hour Uncertainty Analysis to ABB’s Grid View
    Industry partners: ABB, WECC, and PacifiCorp

    PNNL's intra-hour uncertainty analysis technologies will be combined with ABB’s GridView—a widely used production-cost modeling tool—to understand how to best integrate renewables like solar and wind into the grid at different time frames throughout the day.
  • Extending Magnetic Core Shell Nanoparticle Extraction Technology to Cesium and Antimony Removal from Geothermal Brines in New Zealand
    Industry partner: GEO40 Limited

    GEO40, a New Zealand-based geothermal mineral extraction company, will team with PNNL to test a method to extract cesium and other minerals found in brines at geothermal plants. The extracted minerals could be sold to known customers if produced at attractive prices.
  • Low-cost Magnetocaloric Materials
    Industry partner: General Engineering & Research LLC

    In this project, PNNL will use its innovative heat-treatment technology to shorten the annealing time of magnetocaloric materials to help GE&R develop a low-cost hydrogen liquefaction process that relies on energy-efficient magnetic refrigeration technology.
  • Miniaturized, Long-life, Low-frequency Acoustic Transmitter for Fish Tracking in a Marine Environment
    Industry partner: Advanced Telemetry Systems

    A miniaturized acoustic transmitter that operates at a low frequency for fish tracking and mitigation in marine environments is being engineered to significantly outperform the detection range, size, weight, and service rate of current products.
  • Optimization and Peak Demand Limiting in Large Multi-family Apartment Buildings
    Industry partners: Nextwatts and Glenwood Management Company

    Luxury, high-rise apartment towers in New York City could become more energy efficient and have a reduced future carbon tax as a result of a partnership to begin co-developing and demonstrating solutions using PNNL’s proven energy-efficiency optimization and algorithms and VOLTTRONTM technology.
  • Simultaneous Capture and Conversion of CO2 to Methanol
    Industry partner: Southern California Gas Company

    The team will further develop the technology and then design and demonstrate a bench-scale prototype system that could eventually be deployed at industrial sites such as landfills and waste-water treatment plants. The system captures carbon dioxide and sequesters gas into methanol products for sale on the chemical market.
  • Surface Acoustic Wave Sensor for Refrigerant Leak Detection
    Industry partner: Parker-Hannifin Corporation

    PNNL and Parker will design, build, and demonstrate a sensor using superfluorophilic adsorbents as sensors for detecting leakage of fluorocarbon refrigerants in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning as well as refrigeration systems.  

Descriptions of all TCF-funded projects can be found on the DOE news site



About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/science/. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: July 3, 2019