NREL’s Record-Setting Year Highlights Clean Energy Innovation and Commercialization at National Labs

NREL’s Record-Setting Year Highlights Clean Energy Innovation and Commercialization at National Labs

Washington, DC – May 11, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado—the Energy Department’s primary national lab for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development—recognized the people behind the lab’s greatest innovations and industry partnership accomplishments from the past year at its annual Innovation and Technology Transfer Awards on Thursday, May 7. Dr. David Danielson, the Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), delivered keynote remarks at the awards ceremony to recognize lab staff for patenting NREL technologies, outstanding achievements in transferring NREL-developed technologies into the marketplace, and notable innovators.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was the “Distinguished Innovator” award that Dr. Danielson presented to Dr. Min Zhang for her work with EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. Dr. Zhang engineered advanced microbes to further the adoption of cellulosic biofuels, and also helped transfer foundational biotechnologies to companies with three commercial licenses incorporating her innovations. Dr. Zhang’s outstanding work in the clean energy sector has resulted in her contributing to 80 peer-reviewed papers, numerous meeting abstracts, and 21 issued patents.

Two other NREL employees were recognized with Rising Star awards for having demonstrated increasing engagement with the lab’s commercialization and technology transfer process. Chuck Booten was honored for his work in the buildings and thermal systems, and John Simon was recognized for his work in materials applications and performance.

Dr. Danielson also applauded NREL’s most innovative and impactful work that made 2014 a record-setting year for the lab in the commercialization of clean energy technologies. NREL had 43 U.S. patents issued in fiscal year 2014, which is the largest number in lab history to date.

These technology transfer honors support EERE’s National Laboratory Impact Initiative (Lab Impact), launched in December 2013 to better utilize national laboratory resources. Lab Impact emphasizes the importance of commercializing lab work by bringing together leaders from government, academia, the national laboratories, and the private sector as an innovation ecosystem.

Lab Impact is currently developing opportunities to try out new models of engagement that aim to significantly increase the industrial impact of the Energy Department’s national labs on the U.S. clean energy sector. These opportunities include:

  • Small Business Vouchers: Provide access for small businesses to lab capabilities and broaden lab awareness of small business needs and technologies.
  • Technologist-in-Residence: EERE will support exchanges of “embedded” researchers from labs into industry and vice-versa to build on and extend existing national lab-industry partnership efforts.
  • Lab-Corps: A national network to unleash national lab researchers to successfully transition their discoveries into high-impact technologies in the marketplace.

Once completed, these pilot activities will serve as a model for EERE, the national labs, and the entire energy community to successfully increase private-sector engagement and the transition of clean energy technology into the U.S. economy.

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