Two technologies developed by researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and a third developed through a collaboration between Wolfspeed, NREL, Toyota, and the University of Arkansas’ National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, have been named finalists by R&D Magazine for the coveted 2016 R&D 100 Awards.
Each year, the magazine presents the R&D 100 Awards – considered to be the Oscars of innovation – in five categories. NREL has won 58 R&D 100 Awards since 1982. This year’s finalists are:
Battery Internal Short-Circuit Device – The newly patented NREL Battery Internal Short-Circuit (ISC) Device is the first mechanism able to accurately simulate a true internal short circuit within a battery cell, providing researchers with reliable data to determine how the size, resistance, and location of an internal short circuit will impact safety measures implemented in new battery designs. Developed with funding from the Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office and in partnership with NASA, the advanced technology of the tiny, easy-to-implant device is capable of pinpointing different types of internal short circuits in all types of batteries. This includes lithium-ion batteries found commonly in vehicles, astronauts’ equipment, cell phones and laptops.
EcoSnap-AC Heat Pump – This system defines a revolutionary new class of residential air conditioners that addresses all the major drawbacks of room air conditioners while maintaining the affordability that is so important for people. The EcoSnap-AC heat pump installs anywhere on an exterior wall, so that people can be comfortable without losing the view from their window. It is also quieter, more energy efficient, heats and cools, doesn’t jeopardize home security, is easy for a homeowner to install in just a few minutes, and can be left in place year-round. The approach divides the heat pump into two separate yet tightly integrated parts, with one external to the home and the other on the interior. Simple snap-together connections run through one or two small holes in the wall. The only tool required for installation is a drill, so there is no need for professionals or contractors.
The final technology was entered by NREL partner, Wolfspeed.
The implementation of wide bandgap devices into electric vehicles has the potential to revolutionize and significantly boost their overall consumer adoption. Wolfspeed’s Wide Bandgap Inverter is the first traction drive optimized for wide bandgap devices that utilizes a commercially available SiC power module. Wolfspeed’s ongoing partnership with industry leaders, such as Toyota, ensures that the technology is readily adoptable and prepared for implementation into vehicle applications. By developing a product capable of more power in a smaller footprint, Wolfspeed is enabling hybrid and electric vehicles to become more attractive to end consumers, which will ultimately reduce domestic use of fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Since 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have identified revolutionary technologies newly introduced into the market. The winners represent a cross section of industry, academia, private research firms, and government labs. Winners of the R&D 100 Awards are selected by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine. This year’s awards will be announced Nov. 3 at the Gaylord Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy‘s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.