by Edward Beardsworth
This report details findings about technology and technology transfer opportunities at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) that might be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on several visits to LLNL in 1993 as part of a project for PSI Energy, which had the additional goal to establish relationships that would enable PSI to monitor developments and gain access on an ongoing basis.
Noting the tremendous scope of research underway in the research facilities of the U.S. government, and a very strong impetus on the government’s part to foster commercial partnering with industry and applications of the technology it has developed, PSI Energy supported this project to become familiar with the content and process of those programs, and to seek out opportunities for collaboration, demonstration or other forms of participation that will further the business objectives of PSI. PSI has agreed to make these results available to the participants in UFTO.
Detailed listings of LLNL people, technologies and programmatic capabilities (of relevance to utilities) were assembled in the course of the project, and are included. LLNL’s matrix organization is not easily understood, though we did begin to get a sense of it, and certainly identified the key people and groups to deal with. It was a matter of hearing similar accounts a number of times from a number of people, before one began to have confidence that an accurate picture was forming.
LLNL has a large body of work that is relevant to utilities, including storage and power conditioning (batteries and capacitors), toxics remediation, NOx reduction, modeling, hydrogen storage, sensors, materials (catalysts, coatings, insulators, thermoelectrics), etc.
Armed with a brief statement of PSI’s technical and business interests (and an understanding of generic industry interests), it was possible to sift very quickly through a large body of program information at LLNL, mostly through conversation with key contact individuals, and identify areas meriting further study. Additional information was requested for projects of particular interest.
On a practical note, it was interesting to discover that a degree of advance preparation is involved even in the practical matters of learning where facilities are located and the procedures for gaining entry (no minor matter in LLNL’s case, since it still operates as a secret weapons lab). After an actual visit, one can approach a facility with far greater ease and familiarity. Like putting names to faces, there is no substitute for seeing things for oneself.
Method of Approach
LLNL personnel repeatedly suggested that progress would be quicker with a list PSI’s specific needs/problems. LLNL could then do its own internal scan of technology resources to find a match. This certainly is a useful approach, however PSI had an additional broader mission in mind. The broader objective included a general familiarization with LLNL’s programs and the start of a fruitful ongoing set of (personal) relationships. Over time, as PSI becomes a known commodity to LLNL, one would expect LLNL to bring new opportunities to PSI’s attention.
Both the “specific needs” approach and a general awareness approach were used. The two overlap, each supporting the other. As interactions continue, each organization gains increasing awareness of the other’s methods, resources, needs and capabilities (“culture”), leading to a stronger potential for a mutually beneficial business relationship. (General Motor’s experience bears this out. See separate writeup.) No “deal” can be made without personal contact at some point, and conversation is the process by which that happens. In any case, when both parties are motivated to “do something”, the process moves with remarkably efficiency, as was the case in this study.
In particular, the “general awareness” mode identified a LLNL technology of potential interest to PSI that is just at a stage where utility interest was being sought (flywheels). In the “specific problem” mode, an unexpected match was identified between a need of PSI to find uses for glass microspheres from flyash, and LLNL’s work on hydrogen storage (itself a spin off from inertial fusion research).
To accomplish the “general awareness” goal, there is no real substitute for personal contact, visits and probing into the various programs and perceptions at a complex organization like LLNL. Published materials are likely to be out of date and certainly will not provide any of the nuance or subtlety of understanding that could eventually lead to an actual working relationship or “deal”.
The various search databases and services can only help to identify contacts for a particular, rather well-defined, question or problem. Even then, however, it is noted in a couple of test cases that neither the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) or the Federal Labaratory Consortium (FLC) identified LLNL’s activity in a particular area.
Livermore, as with all the federal labs, are feeling strong pressure to show results in technology transfer, to get their technology out into the marketplace and help the U.S. economy. Likewise, they are very concerned with the survival of their programs, and are anxious to obtain additional outside resources. So, while money is a concern, the motivation is not the same as a business profit motive. The primary goal is to get things used, so society benefits.
While there is a long list of mechanisms for industry-laboratory collaboration, including exchange programs, licenses, and cost-sharing, nearly all new agreements are being prepared under the provisions of CRADAs. The business arrangements possible under a CRADA are very flexible, and can accomplish most if not all of kinds of objectives. Importantly, it is only under CRADA (and directly funded “work-for-others”) that the industrial partner can gain a measure of protection for intellectual property (for up to 5 years) while gaining benefit from the government’s technical capabilities.
CRADAs can be approved more quickly if they do not involve new (i.e. unplanned) expenditure by the lab program. Generally, the concept is a 50-50 split, with each party’s contribution provided by funding, intellectual property rights, technology know-how, use of facilities, man-hours, etc. The only restriction is that government money cannot flow to the industrial partner.
Federal Policies and Programs in Flux
Federal efforts in this arena are very much in flux and the subject of considerable debate and political controversy. The future of the major labs is by no means clear or assured. A new study “Defense Conversion, Redirecting R&D” [Office of Technology Assessment May 1993] cites the continuing difficulties of intellectual property, liability, US only use, funding, and bureaucracy that bedevil the “CRADA” negotiation process, against a backdrop of major debate on the appropriate government role in fostering competitiveness and economic growth (in the context of the end of the cold war and all it implies for defense R&D). Such periods of uncertainty and transition often present big opportunities to those willing to jump in and see what can be done.
• TECH TRANSFER is much easier to approach with specific needs/problems!!!!
The message from everyone contacted at LLNL (also a dominant theme from General Motors’ experience) is that a potential industrial partner is best served by coming forward with a statement of its own needs, problems, and goals, and a characterization of its own interests, abilities, and resources. Lab people will then get you together with the right contacts.
• Utilities could have high leverage/influence on LLNL’s ability to get the attention and funding from DOE/Fossil Energy. As a defense lab, LLNL tends not to be regarded as an likely player in fossil work, and is often prohibited by law from responding to DOE solicitations. If PSI sees work of interest at LLNL, its opinion alone would carry considerable weight.
• “TT is a contact sport” Ultimately, deals will be made between individuals, who have to first find each other. The Lab’s objectives are funding and commercial utilization, so they want real business deals to happen.
• The scale of material, technology, personnel and organizational complexity of LLNL is staggering. Over 10,000 people work there. [Note what it takes for a utility to keep up-to-date and tapped in to EPRI]
• Noteworthy that in LLNL’s case, the bulk of the core program is for weapons, isotope separation or magnetic and inertial fusion. Only a relatively small portion is “applied”. Tremendous spin-off potential, however.
• There are tremendous time lags in all aspects of the the TT process, from making first contact to signing a deal.
– Telephone tag and people’s travel schedules mean that initial contacts can take weeks to establish, and meetings can be difficult to arrange. If LLNL perceives a real opportunity, then they are likely to respond more promptly, but they seem very open and accommodating as a general rule.
– At least 4 sets of lawyers get involved in putting a deal together — DOE , U Calif, LLNL and the industrial partner. Sometimes DOE regional office at odds with headquarters. Policy subject to varying interpretations. Policies also evolving.
– DOE budget cycles delay, limit resources available for matching funds.
• If companies approach LLNL, LLNL can respond 1 on 1. If LLNL seeks partners, they must make good faith effort to make opportunity available to any/all companies in the industry.
• LLNL’s internal organization is in constant flux–responding to very real threat of extinction by trying lots of new things. New faces appear, new programs–a moving target to try to know who’s who. Roles and missions of people and offices are changing over time. There appears to be some friction between some of the new “marketers” and some technical people, although most people seem to appreciate the seriousness of the need for LLNL to change in order to survive.
• Information systems, publications, conferences and trade shows are good as hunting grounds, but the Federal R&D resource is immense. Again, having a specific need/topic/problem/question is very helpful.
• Although there is a long list of “mechanisms” for tech transfer with the labs, ranging from cost-sharing and exchange programs to licensing and “work-for-others”, most new agreements are being written as CRADAs (cooperative R&D agreements). This is the only mechanism that affords the industrial partner a degree of protection for intellectual property.
Specific LLNL Technologies Identified
[“Ref Oppty’s ” refers to LLNL publication “Opportunities for Partnership” Technology Profiles — one page write-ups on selected items.]
Zn-Air — [like Al-Air which was commercialized from LLNL work in 70’s (Alu-Power, NJ)]
Cheaper cycle, due to low temp reduction process. Instant refueling. Very little environmental impact of discard.
Flywheel –1, 5, 25 KWH versions. very high specific energy (100-150 kwh/kg) and high power. Conceivably could compete with Pb-Acid in $/kwh. A demo is being built at LLNL. Can tailor design for applications from railroads to UPS (uninterruptible powr supply). Better than SMES. Utility application — interest being pursued by an equipment mfg.
Li-Ion — improvement over Sony/AT&T technology (Reversible intercalation of Li in carbon anode) using foam technology get 1-1/2 times current 80-100 wh/kg. High cycle life. Utilizes aerogel carbon foam technology (see aerogels below).
Windpower: NDE for blade mfg; windflow modeling for siting and dispatch; flywheel storage.
Solar: advanced solar rankine cycle (MHD) very speculative
Thermoelectric Materials. Thermoelectric power generation and cooling has always been limited to very specialized applications, due to low efficiency and high cost. Very recent theoretical work (paper to be published soon) indicates the possiblity of a new class of devices based on new materials and very thin multi layers, with dramatically enhanced figures of merit that would make them competitive. At the stage of basic R&D, first application of interest is cooling of electric vehicles. LNLL has a relationship with MITand a company that is developing solid state replacements for alternators on truck diesels(which use waste exhaust heat).
Contact is Joseph Farmer 423-6574 or Jeff Wadsworth
Storage Reservoir Characterization — acoustic and seismic imaging techniques from work in geothermal applicable to CAES or gas storage? Contact is Alan Burnham. (The principal investigator is Paul Kasameyer, Earth Sciences.)
Hydrogen/fuel cells: LLNL concentrating on vehicle storage–composite materials for tanks; cryogenic carbon adsorption and glass microspheres.
Contact is Glenn Rambach 423-6208
– 10-12 years ago, they needed “perfect” glass microspheres for inertial laser fusion (fill with deuterium or tritium — tiny H-bombs when blasted with lasers). Commercial ones too irregular–sorted thru and found that only 1 in 10**13 that were good enough. (Note one of the commercial processes involves flyash in a turbulent flame.) They developed a way to make perfect ones. Now seeking to scale up the manufacturing process, to use spheres for bulk storage of H2.
– They’re in discussions with a vendor interested in a near term commercial application.
– Need to scaleup mfg. by factor of 10**12 — already accomplished 10**6.
– Still may be able to use commercial/imperfect spheres–sorting process to pick out the ones that are good enough.
– Reference: Robert Teitel, BNL Report # 51439, May 81 “Microcavity H2 Storage, Final Progress Report”. Also, there is an LLNL report on properties, manufacture and use.
– LLNL has best capability in the world to study structure/characteristics of microspheres.
Economic Modeling: Genlzd Equilibrium modeling (3rd generation) network/market model; (relaxation of Lagrange coefficients.) Want opportunity to use methods to meet a utility’s needs. (Tom Edmunds and Alan Lamont)
– National market model –policy applications — market clearing/capacity additions — with accurate detailed charactization of technologies, linked in a network model.
– Distributed Utility (DU) they contributed to PG&E DU report — their approach apparently was not adopted. They feel confident their approach would be useful to utility planners–based on idea of value/market clearing prices determining what is built and when.
– For EIA/DOE — Emission trading and natural gas models.
– META•NET is beta software “language/platform” for this kind of modeling — user’s manual provided.
– Suggest LLNL’s has special competence in sensors, data mgt, control/response moment-to-moment, that would be important in operation of DU.
Thin-layer — < 4 µ layer dielectric – very rugged, high voltage, very high power for pulse applications and high voltage power conditioning. 0.6 wh/kg. With other materials,can go to megavolts! [ref 9-13 Opptys] This is one application of very thin film multilayer manufacturing technology.
Aerogel — (see aerogel discussion) 10**4 better! up to 40 Farads/gm,
high energy 5-10 wh/kg , power 2-20 kw/kg (contact is Jim Kaschmetter, Physics)
Uses carbon aerogel foam in thin layer as electrode in liquid electrolyte. Extremely large surface area and double layer capacitor effect. Carbon aerogel manufacture appears to be closer to practicality, as it doesn’t require non-critical extraction. Very low cost. Opens up possibilities for very low energy desalination via capacitive deionization.
[Update: Jim Kaschmetter left LLNL to form Polystor, a spinoff startup company that is commercializing this technology.]
Materials (general): Contact Alan Burnham or Jeff Wadsworth
Ceramics–non-brittle “plastic”, moldable and fracture resistant.
Blast resistant laminates
Anti-corrosion coatings; modeling of coating properties
Granular Flow Modeling
Over last 10-15 years, developed new class of modeling capability applying molecular dynamics to macroscopic materials. Otis Walton is a world expert. Lots of interest from chemical mfg, and some discussions re coal handling (need better inroads with coal/utilities).
(Potentially applicable to ground source heat pump work.)
Combustion Modeling (Charles Westbrook) work for IC engines, use of refinery gas.
Works very closely with Sandia/Livermore’s combustion group. He does chemical kinetics, toxics, Clean Air Act, etc. They do more numerical work, and have a major coal program.
– Big CRADA with auto makers, Cummins & other engine makers, Sandia and Los Alamos for modeling to reduce HC and NO emissions from engines. (Separate from post combustion NOx project).
– Haven’t had much contact with utilities–have gone to auto, oil, mfg industries first.
Putting together concept for consortium with oil companies for a “Clean Air Act Center”
– Ultra low NOX nat. gas burner subcontract to UC Irvine/Calif Instittute for Energy Efficiency.
– GRI project similar/related
– Also for GRI — Burner Engineering Research Lab at Sandia
NOx reduction: — pulsed plasma and hydrocarbon catalysis — (Henrik Wallman) CRADA with diesel mfg. -Cummins– (advantages over ammonia and urea injection) [ref 3-11 Opptys & handout] Interested in developing power plant application.
Methane-to-methanol in conjunction with power generation: (A. Burnham) once thru system for conversion, with the effluent used for power generation. Avoids expense of multi-pass and separations to utilize all the methane. Conversion takes place via pulse plasma (Henrik Wallman), or “bio-mimetic” catalysts (Bruce Watkins).
Electochemical [ref 9-3] measure contaminants in waste streams, monitor corrosion
Fiber Optic [ref 9-7]
… “frozen smoke” lowest density solid — many remarkable properties and potential applications. very high surface area 300-1000 sq meters/gm, lowest thermal conductivity of any material. Supercritical extraction of solvents leave open-cell structures of Silicon, Carbon-based or metal oxide materials. Fabrication not cheap yet. [ref 6-5 Opptys]
Supercapacitors ( see above)
Metal Oxide catalysts [ref 6-17 Opptys]
Insulation (can be made from agar–seaweed!)
Natural Gas storage
new electrodes for fuel cells
Environment: (contact is Jesse Yow) [additional details available in “Environmental Technology Program Annual Report FY91 — UCRL-LR-105199-99]
Sensors: — New class of fiber optic sensors down in a drill hole detect concentrations 1:10**6 (benzene => gasoline) and 1:10**9 (TCE). Dramatic reduction in cost to characterize/monitor an underground site in almost real time.
Underground Imaging: — Electromagnetic techniques using RF or DC current–can get 3-d images of pollutant plumes, or of the burn front of in situ coal gasification.
Spill Cleanup — Electric resistance heating and steam injection used to drive volatile compounds out of the earth, reducing time scale from 10’s -100’s of years to 10’s of months.
(Ground heating may be applicable to ground source heat pump work.)
Radiolytic Decomposition of toxic Materials (Steve Matthews)
Use of E beams, x-rays and ultraviolet ionizing radiation to break down organic materials into harmless or less toxic materials. Can be applied to vapor or liquid phase, in remediation applications or process streams.
Global Emissions / Atmospheric Release Modeling — LLNL was called upon for analysis of Chernobyl, the Kuwaiti Oil Fires, etc. Can handle accident/leak situations on any scale.
LLNL has a complex matrix organizational structure, consisting of “directorates”, or “programs” and “divisions”. The general pattern is for technical personnel to belong administratively in discipline-based divisions (physics, chemistry & material science, engineering, etc.). Most project work is organized in the programs, to which personnel are assigned and bill time, etc. There are many exceptions, however. Some projects are administered in the divisions, and a number of people “wear several hats”, reporting to different groups within LLNL at the same time. Organization charts are of little help. Key contact personnel can provide guidance about who to talk to on any given subject, though it does pay to get more than one perspective on program content and direction.
A recent reorganization is reflected in the attached organization charts.
LLNL Personnel Contacted/Identified: (general phone # 510-422-1100)
Alan Burnham 422-7304, Program Leader, Energy Technologies. is our main point of contact. He is in EMATT, in the Energy Division(see below).
Alan Bennett, 423-3330, Director, Industrial Partnerships and Commercialization.
New to LLNL inDec ’92, to handle “institutional marketing”, and to develop new business for the lab as defense/ weapons budgets shrink. [Promoted 11/94 to new position in charge of tech transfer overall.]
Technology Transfer Initiative Program (TTIP):
(This group of about 30 people has seen its role transition from initiator to production administrator. Where previously they were trying to promote tech transfer and make the connections between Lab staff and industry, they now find themselves with more than enough proposals, and responsible to oversee negotiations and contracting–more of a classic intellectual property/licensing “production” operation. They also coordinate trade show participation and visits to the lab by outsiders.)
(vacant) 423-1341, Director
Dave C. Conrad 422-7839 Acting Director. Came in Feb. 93 from weapons program to set up business procedures; took over when former director Gib Marguth left to go to Sandia Livermore.
Ann Freudendahl 422-7299
“TACTs” Technical Area Coordination Team —
This designation relates specifically to the $140 million DOE Technology Transfer Initiative, and is comprised of technical staff members secunded to review proposals and to meet with reps from other labs to do overall rankings.
Alan Burnham Energy 422-7304
Bill Robson Environment 423-7261 [Laser/Environment Program]
Jeff Wadsworth Chemistry & Materials Sci 423-2184 [Ass’t Asoc. Director]
Bart Gledhill Biotech
Mike Fluss Microelectronics
Their are also TACTs assigned for the new special DOE AMTEX program with the textile industry. (See discussion about Industry Partner Programs.)
Anthony K. (Tony) Chargin 422-5196, head of EMATT (Energy, Manufacturing and Transportation Technologies), a new program established late ’92 bridging the Energy and Engineering Directorates, now reporting directly to the Energy Division.
Alan Burnham, 422-7304, Program Leader, Energy Technologies. Point of contact for energy supply and storage. Also a member of TACT. Most of the work is in oil & gas production, espec oil shale and petroleum geology. Physical Chemist — 1/4 time doing technical work. He is also LLNL’s point of contact with Morgantown Energy Technology Center (METC), which handles DOE coal gasif. work.
Jeff Richardson, 423-5187, formerly in Chemistry & Materials Sci., is now Program Leader in EMATT for Materials Manufacturabilit
Dick Post, 422-9853, developer of Flywheel (electromechanical battery)
Henrik Wallman, 423-1522, Staff Scientist, Fossil Fuels. Has work going on in hydrocarbon catalysis and pulsed plasma — NOx reduction. Also proposing partial oxidation of methane coupled to power generation,
Tom Edmunds 422-5156 System Sciences, Engineering Research Div.
Alan Lamont 423-2575
Genlzd Equilibrium modeling (3rd generation) network/market model
Charles Westbrook 422-4108 , Physics Department, Combustion Modeling
Works very closely with Sandia/Livermore’s combustion group. He does chemical kinetics, toxics, Clean Air Act, etc. They do more numerical work, and have a major coal program.
(Sandia/Livermore Combustion Program: Don Hardesty 510-294-2321.)
Glenn Rambach 423-6208, Hydrogen/fuel cells: LLNL concentrating on vehicle storage–composite mat’ls for tanks; cryogenic carbon adsorption and glass microspheres. Also some new concepts in materials for fuel cell electrodes and electrolytes.
Chemistry & Materials Science
Jeff Wadsworth, Chemistry & Materials Sci 423-2184 [Assoc. Director] Joined LLNL in ’92 from Lockheed (metallurgy)
Jean H. dePruneda, 422-1339, [Division Leader, Chem. Sciences Div.] does internal and external networking for tech transfer–point of contact. Aerogels for catalysts, supercapacitors, insulation.
Lucy Hair, 423-7823, Point of contact for aerogel catalysts
Troy Barbee 423-7796, Point of contact for thin layer supercapacitors
Bruce Watkins Methane –> methanol conversion, biomimetic —
synthesize materials to mimic enzyme/proteins — with GRI
Steve Mayer 422-7702, Electrochemist working on Li-ion battery. (Reversible intercalation of Li in carbon anode. Rick Pekala is materials person 422-0152) He is on DOE Utility storage group. Sees utility applications for supercapacitors for Power conditioning, motor starting, etc.
These two people are also the developers of the aerogel supercapacitor.
Ralph Jacobs 424-4545, Director, New Technology Initiatives, Laser Program, (also microelectronics) Focused on laser isotope separation, advanced chemical processing
Bill Robson 423-7261 Environment TACT, industry partnering for Environ Protection Program,
Don Prosnitz 422-7504 contact for emission monitoring
Booth Myers 422-7537 Sr. Scientist, Isotope enrichment (gadolinium for LWR control rods), waste processing/incinerator replacement
Steve Matthews 423-3052, Environmental Protection Dept / E-Beam, LLNL’s own site remediation, and some research. (This group is not in the Laser Program).
Physics and Space Sciences Directorate
Steve Hadley 423-2424 (Assistant Assoc Director for Tech Transfer) Point of contact for Industry partnering. Joined LLNL 11/92 from Aerospace industry. Notes that Physics at LLNL is focused heavily in weapons/SDI related work and basic research. Can also look in other departments (lasers, chem & materials) for items that one might expect to see under physics.
Environmental Programs Directorate (created in a recent reorganization, combining several related functions from other areas. Acting Director is Jay Davis.)
Jesse Yow 422-3521 Deals with wide range of environmental technologies, especially in-situ monitoring and remediation.
Information Source Contacts / Technical Information Services:
Public relations. General # is 422-4599
Marybeth Acuff 423-4432 knowledgable contact.
Loren Devor, Technical Info. Dept. (liaison to Directors Office) 422-0855
She handles corporate publications/ mailing lists;
Energy & Technology Review (monthly magazine), and the 5 yr. Institutional Plan
Research Library (for internal lab use–but individuals seem willing to help over the phone)
Circulation Desk /general # 422-5277 — Betty Herrick is Ass’t Group Leader
– There’s an on line database avail to employees and contractors only of their card catalog/holdings, also to the entire U.C. system (Univ. Calif)
– New LLNL reports list published monthly is for internal use only.
Howard Lentzner 422-5838 — Research Librarian (chemist by training)
– They can help outsiders for pay–complicated administratively. Can help gratis on quick items. Better to get copies of lab reports thru NTIS or directly from the researcher.
– Everything is in DOE databases, on Dialog and other services.