Technology Transfer Opportunities – Ames National Laboratory



Final Report

Technology Transfer Opportunities in the National Laboratories

Ames Laboratory

Ames, Iowa

December 1997

Prepared for:

Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO)


Edward Beardsworth


This report is part of a series examining technology opportunities at National Laboratories of possible interest to electric utilities

1. Summary
1. Ames Overview
2. Ames Technologies & Programs

This report is proprietary and confidential. It is for internal use by personnel of companies that are subscribers in the UFTO multi-client program. It is not to be otherwise copied or distributed except as authorized in writing.


This report details technology and technology transfer opportunities at the Ames Laboratory (Ames) that may be of strategic interest to electric utilities. It is based on a site visit to the Ames Laboratory, and subsequent contacts conducted as part of the UFTO multiclient project.


The UFTO program was established to investigate the opportunities afforded to electric utilities by both the tremendous scope of the research conducted in the laboratories/ facilities of the U.S. government, and the federal government’s strong drive to foster partnerships with commercial industry that result in practical applications of its research/technologies.

Ames Overview

The Ames Laboratory started in the 1940’s, when researchers at Iowa State University developed the first practical methods for refining uranium ore into metal. The Laboratory processed over 100 tons of uranium metal during the early 40”s, which was further purified to produce the nation’s first generation of nuclear weapons. After this initial period, the Laboratory turned its capacity for research in chemistry, the materials sciences and physics to the investigation of the nation’s energy-related problems. Today, much of the funding for its work comes from the DOE’s Office of Energy Research/Basic Energy Sciences, although other funding comes from the DOE’s Offices of Environmental Management and Fossil Energy.

The Laboratory is located on the campus of Iowa State University, and its programs intertwined with the university and its special research Centers and Institutes. Staff often hold dual appointments, and university students often do their graduate research in Ames Lab facilities under the direction of Lab staff. This is an agile, open environment, where research teams form and re-form very readily, and flexibly tackle new undertakings. The people know each other, and they work together well.

An absolute headcount is hard to determine, because of the movement of students and visiting scientists entering and leaving programs. However, the core staff consists of about 400 FTEs, about 200 of whom are experienced scientists. There may be another 200 to 300 grad students, post doctoral researchers, visiting scientists, and university “associates” supporting their research at any time. Recent annual budgets have been about $30 million. As the smallest lab in the DOE system, Ames produces program research results and wins scientific awards in disproportionate numbers, and has the lowest overhead rates of any DOE lab.

They have unique capabilities and expertise in a number of interesting areas. These include: magnetic materials and their applications, rare earth materials and their applications to energy-related problems (Note: the Ames Laboratory’s “Materials Preparation Center” produces and distributes most of the world’s research grade supply), and thermoelectric materials (and TPV–thermo photovoltaic materials). Elsewhere in the materials world, they also have some unpublished ideas for a new class of high temperature corrosion resistant coatings (which need a demonstration partner and a little funding) and high strength conductors (10 times the tensile strength of Cu, at 80% of the conductivity). Ames Laboratory research areas also include, ash characterization and use(they’ve got a monitor to measure carbon in ash and also an alkalinity monitor for gasifier diagnoses), biomass utilization technologies, coal cleaning methods, fluidized bed combustion (FBC) operations and troubleshooting. and Non-Destructive Evaluation technologies and methods.

• Technology Transfer Office

Call Todd Zdorkowski, 515-294-5640,
Web site —

Ames Technologies & Programs

Covered in this report:

• Center for Rare Earth and Magnetic Materials 3
Rare Earth Information Center
• Magnetic Refrigeration 4
• Sulfur resistant coating 6
• High Strength Conductors 6
• Thermoelectrics 6
• Fossil Energy Programs 7
• Environmental Technology Development 10
– Expedited Site Characterization
– Other ETD Technologies

• Center for Rare Earths and Magnetics

Dr. William McCallum, Director,
515-294-4736, or

One of the Ames Laboratory’s mission-related strengths is in the area of metallurgy and ceramics. Within that broad area, Ames has developed a unique focus on the rare earths (perhaps because lantanide series materials science is similar to actinide series chemistry and materials science). This informs their work on magnetic materials, magnetic refrigerant materials, power conversion materials, corrosion resistant coatings and novel conductive alloys. The physics, chemistry and instrumentation developed in these areas also informs the Ames Laboratory’s work in Fossil Energy and Environmental Technology Development.

Rare earths are key though little-known ingredients in many fields of technology, including optics, magnetics, catalysts, and electrochemical devices (batteries, fuel cells, etc.). Ames Lab supplies 80-90% of the world’s research grade rare earth materials to US laboratories, to universities, and to firms with research organizations, distributed across the U.S., Asia and Europe. They also develop commercially viable material purification, processing and separation processes. Basic and applied research into rare-earth-dependent materials includes research into magnetic materials, magnetic refrigerants, power conversion materials, and coatings. (For a good layman’s overview on rare earths, see The Industrial Physicist, p. 28, September ’96.).

Dr. McCallum, who is the Director of the Laboratory/ISU Center for Rare Earths and Magnetics is in the process of building a research consortium of firms and organizations interested in the practical applications, processing and development of advanced magnetic materials. He is, himself, an expert in the composition, processing and performance of neodymium-iron-boron magnets, and recently won an R&D 100 award for his work on processing magnetic powder materials. The information-outreach side of the Center is represented by the Rare Earth Information Center.

Rare Earth Information Center (RIC)

This center was established in 1966 to serve the scientific and technological communities by collecting, storing, evaluating, and disseminating rare earth materials information. The Center publishes two newsletters and maintains a database of over 80,000 references on the metallurgy, physics, chemistry, and toxicity of rare earth elements and compounds. Personnel can access 17,000 journals and 400,000 U.S. government reports. Everyday questions concerning rare earths and their applications are researched and answered over the telephone by RIC staff, while more sophisticated database searches are done on a for-fee basis. The Center’s periodical publications include:

– RIC News is a quarterly newsletter, available free, containing items of current interest to the science and technology of rare earths.

– RIC Insight is a monthly newsletter, provided as a membership benefit of supporters of the Center, with editorial comment and late breaking news slanted to the technological and commercial aspects of rare earth materials. (Supporters pay an annual contribution starting from $300 for individuals.)

For an overview of the Center, see its homepage at ……

or call RIC staff at: (515) 294 5405 or (515) 294 2272

• Magnetic Refrigeration (UFTO Note Oct 24, 1997)

Ames Lab and Astronautics Corporation of America, are making considerable progress towards a commercially viable refrigeration technology based on the magnetocaloric effect present in certain rare earth materials .

Magnetic refrigeration has been around for a long time, and was used in the past, principally, to reach ultra low temperatures in cryogenics research. Recent developments on two fronts are now moving the technology towards room temperature and commercial application. One is the refrigeration cycle itself–new approaches have been developed, which are reaching performance at room temperature that is very competitive with vapor compression. A laboratory scale magnetic refrigerator built by Astronautics produces 600 watts of cooling power, achieves a temperature span of 28 degrees K near room temperature, with the highest temperature being just above the freezing point of water. The system efficiencies approach 60% of Carnot, with a COPs of five to eight. It has been in continuous operation since December ’96. This work used traditional gadolinium spheres as the magnetic refrigerant (and a more advanced system has recently been demonstrated that improves upon these numbers).

The other key ingredient is the magnetic material. Ames Lab, a leader in the field of rare earth metals research, announced a breakthrough this summer, producing a giant magnetocaloric effect in new alloys of gadolinium, silicon and germanium. The magnetocaloric effect in these materials is 2 to 7 times larger than in other magnetic refrigerant materials. Their operating temperatures (the Curie point) can be tuned from -400 degrees F to 65 degrees F, by adjusting the ratio of silicon to germanium.

Magnetic refrigeration operates by magnetizing and demagnetizing the material, analogous to compression and expansion in a vapor cycle. However, the losses due to magnetizing and demagnetizing are much less than the friction losses that occur during compression and expansion. Two “beds” filled with magnetic material are pushed in and out of a magnetic field. As a bed enters a high magnetic field space, its components are aligned in the magnetic field and it heats up (magnetocaloric effect). The heat is picked up by a flow of heat transfer fluid (which is water in this laboratory scale magnetic refrigerator) and is dissipated into the surroundings. When the bed is pulled out of the magnetic field, its components return to an amorphous state, and it cools down due to the reverse magnetocaloric effect, cooling the water.

The use of a solid refrigerant material (gadolinium) and water as a heat transfer fluid offers another advantage compared to conventional vapor cycle refrigerators: this is the absence of harmful chemicals as liquid refrigerants that present serious environmental hazard.

Strong magnetic fields are needed for this system, and these are currently produced by superconducting magnets. However, the team is finding ways to lower the field required, while new developments in permanent magnets (materials, fabrication, and expiration of key patents) offer the possibility of simpler and less expensive systems. Also, high temperature superconductors are coming into their own, which could also change things dramatically.

The need for a strong field puts the economics of magnetic refrigeration in favor of larger systems, however smaller scale devices are also anticipated. The key differentiating features are:

1. Higher efficiencies (which can be highly significant when power is limited–e.g. in an electric vehicle).

2. Reduction (to zero) of the environmental issues associated with conventional liquid refrigerants.

3. Ability to cool continuously over a range of temperatures(e.g. in chilling a fluid stream)

4. Ability to scale down without significant losses of cooling efficiency, which is to the contrary of conventional vapor cycle refrigeration.

Initial applications will probably be in industrial and commercial (e.g. supermarkets) refrigeration, cooling and air conditioning. Other possibilities of interest to utilities may include cooling of inlet air for combustion turbines, and district cooling.

The technology is at least five years from a practical commercial reality, however Ames and Astronautics are already fielding numerous inquiries from interested parties and potential partners. The developers are open to the possibility of teaming with other companies who may do the manufacturing and marketing of actual products.

A number of technical and popular articles and other information are available from Ames.


Karl Gschneidner, Ames Lab, principal investigator, 515-294-7931,
Vitalij Pecharsky, Ames Lab, principal investigator, 515-294-8220
Carl Zimm, principal investigator, Astronautics, Madison WI,

Sulfur-Resistant Coatings

This is an unpublished idea that is currently unfunded, due to budget cuts in DOE. Rare earth oxysulfides should be fairly easy to apply as a ceramic coating on refractory materials, and will be highly immune to damage by sulfur, making them ideal for use in coal-fired power plants.

Along with some modest funding, the researchers at Ames need some boiler tubes to work with, and a burner in which to test them once the coatings have been applied.

Contact: Dr. Larry Jones 515.294.5236 or

High Strength Conductors (UFTO Note Sept 20, 1996)

This new class of alloys has 10 times the tensile strength of copper, at about 80% the electrical conductivity. These are deformation processed copper metal matrix composites that have a long filamentary microscopic structure.

Possible applications, in addition to non-sagging transmission and distribution wires that could allow hotter operation and increased tower spacing, include use in equipment where tensile strength is extremely important, such as generators or pulsed-power magnetizers that are used to make permanent-magnets.

While the metallurgy aspects have been published in trade journals, there’s been no funding currently available to pursue these various power systems applications. The Lab would appreciate input from interested industrial parties.

In related work, the Lab also has developed improved aluminum metal-matrix composites with increased strength and very little loss of conductivity, which may be another candidate for power conductor applications.

Contact: Larry Jones, Principal Investigator, 515-294-5236,

• Thermoelectrics and Thermophotovoltaics

Thermoelectric devices (TE) convert heat directly into electricity or work as a heat pump when supplied with electric power. They’ve been used in space craft for a long time, but their low efficiencies have limited their commercial use to a few specialty applications (such as cooling electronics). A great deal of research takes place around the world to try to break the performance barrier, where the efficiency rarely exceeds 5-7 percent. Ames is one of the important centers for this research, and has extensive measurement and testing capabilities.

More recent work has focused on thermophotovoltaics (TPV), a different approach to the conversion of heat into electricity. (In TPV, the idea is to apply heat from a combustion or radioactive source to a special emitter material, which then radiates light at a specific wavelength. This light is then converted into electricity by a specially matched high efficiency photovoltaic cell. Efficiencies could, theoretically, reach 40-60%. Energy Daily had a good overview of recent work in this area on Sept 2, 1997.) Ames lab is developing “rare earth super emitters” for TPV which become incandescent at 800-1500 deg. C, and perhaps as low as 600 deg. They are also developing materials which can survive the thermal shock cycle, and which may eventually lead to commercially viable applications like gas furnaces that supply their own fan power (able to provide heat during power outages).

Contact: Bruce Cook, 515-294-9673,

• Fossil Energy Programs

The Ames Laboratory Fossil Energy program and the ISU Center for Coal and the Environment form one of the linked laboratories that characterize Iowa State’s research community. The Fossil Energy program and the Center do extensive research into coal separations and cleaning, coal combustion systems and system monitoring, and combustion effluent/exhaust controls and monitoring technologies. Recently the Center has developed a new focus on biomass utilization. The research benefits from the long history of materials science, analytical chemistry, instrument building and systems engineering that characterize both the Laboratory and ISU. Both the Center and the Ames Laboratory can be appropriate contracting vehicles, depending upon a firm’s preferences or situation. Funding for the Laboratory comes from DOE, but Center funding comes from EPRI and a range of other utility industry sources.


Contact: Robert Brown 515-294-8733,

Fossil Program Office: 515-294-3758

CfCE Office 515-294-7936

Carbon in Ash Monitor In this off-line device, a low-power laser heats the ash sample. In the air space above the sample, a sensitive microphone detects minute sound wave produced by the heated carbon in the sample. Power plant operators can thus have quick and accurate information to help make assessments about plant performance. The instrument has been used to measure carbon concentrations from less than 0.1% to nearly 7% by mass, with an accuracy of 4%. It has been successfully tested at several sites. This device is patented and recently won an R&D 100 award for innovation and commercial potential.

Contact: Robert Brown, 515-294-8733,

Ametek Inc, a small company in Pittsburgh, is pursuing commercialization.

Contact Joe Capone, 412-828-9050, ext 222

Coal Ash – Alternatives to disposal: The use of coal ash as a soil stabilizer in feedlots has been successfully demonstrated. This may be useful in states where livestock confinements are large or growing components of the agricultural economy.

Biomass: Several studies into systems that use crops and agricultural wastes (in Iowa) for energy production have been successfully completed.

Latent Heat Ballasted Gasifier. The idea is to store heat in a metal alloy with a melting point close to the desired gasification temperature. This allows a single reactor to sustain pyrolysis without oxygen addition, by storing energy during periods of combustion and releasing the stored energy during periods of pyrolysis, resulting in a producer gas with higher methane content and heating value.

Contact: Robert Brown, 515-294-8733,

Coal cleaning

A wide ranging experimental program in new techniques to clean coal. (With emissions allowances so cheap, coal cleaning isn’t a hot topic currently, but industry needs to get ready for tighter standards coming in 2000.)

– Remove 60% of pyrite and organic sulfur via “low-severity oxidation” for $2-3/ton. EPRI funded this work, and is seeking a patent.

– Remove chlorine with a lime (calcium hydroxide) solution (leftover pickling agent from steelmaking). Trick is to find a good wetting agent. On combustion, the reagent left on the coal forms calcium sulfate, reducing SO2 emissions. Iowa State owns this technology. Patent was granted April ’96. Colin Chriswell, 515-294-6776.

– Column Flotation – new development in applying this technique to fine coal. The coal is initially ground very fine in a ball mill, and injected into a high narrow tube of water. The column separates coal and minerals based on different surface properties which affect how they interact with air and water in the column. Coal particles attach more readily to air bubbles generated at the bottom of the column, and a coal rich froth collects at the top. Mineral particles are drawn to the bottom. Control algorithms are the key to making this work.

– Oil Agglomeration – also works on the difference between coal fines and minerals in their interaction with water. In agglomeration, oil is slowly added to a stirred mixture of coal and water. The minerals remain suspended in the water as the coal particles become coated with oil and stick together. The Ames research is finding additives to help impurities stay with the minerals and not with the coal. There’s a large potential resource that could be recovered from waste ponds if this work is successful. Thomas Wheelock, 515-294-5226.

Fluidized bed combustion (FBC) operations and troubleshooting

For DOE and private companies, Ames and Center staff help operators with specific operational problems, such as diagnosing causes for deposit formation and bed agglomeration.

They have developed a “similitude model” of fluid bed or fluid bed combustion. This is a physical device which operates under “similar” conditions to an actual reactor, and can predict reactor behavior. Results can be scaled via dimensionless parameters. It’s been operated first with glass beads, to analyze cold flow.

RF Surface Contour mapping system makes it possible to monitor and map surfaces of process streams in a variety of coal processing vessels (e.g. FBC’s, gasifiers, etc.).

On-line alkalinity monitor measures sodium and potassium in hot gas streams from coal combustion (pulverized coal, pressurized fluidized bed) and gasification. Because sodium and potassium are everywhere, this measurement is difficult to do. Other techniques involve concentrating an alkali sample from a got gas stream, which takes several hours followed by lab analysis. Handling made is almost impossible to avoid contamination. The Ames device uses flame atomic emission spectrometry for instant on line measurements at parts-per-billion levels, making it possible, for example, to blend coal and clays to prevent turbine corrosion. Ames brings their instruments to a site for analyses and troubleshooting on a contract basis.

Contact David Eckels 515-294-7943

On-line monitor for mercury in hot gas streams of coal gasifiers. Detects all species of Hg, not just elemental. Contact Glenn Norton 515-294-1035

On-line monitor for hydrogen chloride in hot gas streams of coal gasifiers. 100 times more sensitive than commercially available devices (needed for fuel cell applications).

Contact Colin Chriswell 515-294-6776

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer implemented at the Iowa State University physical plant in a research program to evaluate various coals and limestone sorbents. Challenge was to harden the device for the harsh environment. A possible real time emissions monitor.

Contact: Robert Brown 515-294-8733

Biomass-derived char as source for carbon for use in lithium battery electrodes — potentially much better than coal-derived carbon, which contains transition-metals — a problem in these applications. In a related project, they helped a seed corn maker to dispose of old seed coated with herbicide, by gasifying it.

• Environmental Technology Development (ETD)

ETD works on solutions not only to DOE’s cleanup problems, but also to similar problems faced by public and private sector organizations. Under development are such things as compact, portable instruments to identify hazardous wastes, rapid techniques for in-the-field analysis of radioactive materials, and laser systems to decontaminate equipment.

Director: Martin Edelson, 515-294-4987,

Expedited Site Characterization (ESC)

(Also see:

ESC is a field-proven methodology for environmental site assessment that utilizes in-field decision making, a dynamic work plan, real-time data acquisition and interpretation to efficiently minimize uncertainty in remedial selection and design. It has been successfully applied at a variety of sites containing multiple aquifers and multiple organic and metal contaminated sites, all under full regulatory scrutiny.

Regulators are accepting ESC because of its proactive, open strategy to involve them and its demonstrated ability to move the cleanup ahead of schedule while providing for improved data quality that supports better remedial decisions.

Site owners are accepting ESC because it breaks the lengthy cycle of analysis, planning, sampling followed by more of the same, all of which can take years. ESC is different from traditional methods in the areas of project organization and staffing (a core team), a regulatory interface (proactive involvement) and data management (real-time acquisition and integration). ESC saves site owner money in two ways; by reducing site assessment time and by providing a reliable basis for any subsequent remediation.

ESC incorporates several key principles.

– A core team of an experienced multidisciplinary group of hands-on professionals is formed to plan the project and also to manage field investigations.

– A dynamic work plan can be modified in the field by the core team to ensure project objectives are being met. On-site data processing and interpretations ensure effective on-site decision making.

– In Phase I, multiple non-intrusive and minimally intrusive methods such as geophysical techniques, borehole logging and direct push technologies (DPT), are used to develop the hydrogeologic portion of the conceptual site model (CSM)

– In Phase II, field work focuses on the chemical contaminant portion of the CSM, only after the hydrogeologic portion is complete. Appropriate analytical methods for the contaminants of concern are selected in accordance with USEPA data quality objectives process. Use of on-site mobile labs assures cost effective and rapid turnarounds.

A comprehensive, innovative quality assurance plan is developed that includes assigning quality attributes to all historical information available prior to the ESC. Throughout the investigation all prior information is maintained in a unified database that assists in quality control and timely decision making.

In partnership with regulators, a communications plan is developed that maximizes their involvement with every aspect of ESC consistent with their needs and resource limitations.

ESC will be most effectively applied to those sites that are amenable to cost-effective use of geophysical and DPT methods. Typically this means sites larger than a few acres.

ESC is unique in that:

1. The site characterization work is done by experts who creatively interact during field work (yes, the experts are in the field … not behind a desk in a home office) to iteratively design the sampling plan in “real-time.” These same experts pick the site specific technologies that support that on-site decision making in real time.

2. ESC emphasizes strong interaction with regulators and stakeholders throughout the site characterization. The ESC core team leader meets with regulators at the beginning of the site characterization process and negotiates such things as the definition of the contaminants of concern, the sampling strategy and analysis program.

The result of these unique practices is a very technically powerful and publicly-acceptable site characterization. The initial cost of putting experts in the field is recovered by not having to revisit the site for later measurements and by generating a result that has strong regulatory and public acceptance.

The methodology is now being extended to accommodate both characterization of buildings and other facilities, and explicit risk assessment

Contact: Al Bevolo, 515-294-5414,

ESC Demonstration at Manufactured Gas Site

Ames Laboratory teamed up with IES Utilities, Iowa environmental regulators and manufacturers of environmental cleanup technologies to demonstrate the ESC approach at a former manufactured gas plant site in Marshalltown, Iowa, April – May 1994. The site is owned by IES Utilities, a major Iowa electric and gas company, and the first public utility in the country to cosponsor an event to demonstrate ESC.

The site, acquired by IES in the early 1900s for its distribution lines, manufactured gas from coal. This fuel was used between the late 1800s and 1940s for lighting street lamps, heating and cooking. At the time of operation, gasification by-products, which included coal tar, coke and other materials, were not regulated. Now, under the guidelines and oversight of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, IES Utilities is responsible for investigating and remediating the contaminants at this former manufactured gas plant site.

This project involved both soil and groundwater media and COCs, such as PAHs, volatile organics, petroleum products, DNAPLs, pesticides, radioactive isotopes and RCRA metals.

Other technologies developed in the ETD program include:

(see :

Analyzing Environmental Contaminants

Mobile Demonstration Laboratory for Environmental Screening Technologies – MDLEST — Uncommonly versatile, this new analytical laboratory on wheels effectively brings comprehensive capabilities to the field for faster, safer, better and cheaper environmental assessment.

Metals and Isotope Analysis Using Electrothermal/Plasma and Diode Laser Spectrometry — Offering highly precise simultaneous detection of radioactive isotopes and hazardous metals in the field, DLS-FANES should speed DOE restoration activities, reduce costs and improve confidence of characterization and monitoring analyses.

Improvements in Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry — Augmenting an already effective analytical technique, sampling improvements for ICP-MS promise reduced hazards, costs and complexity for assessing DOE’s radioactive sites.

Electrospray Mass Spectrometry — Adapting for environmental use an analytical technology already common in medical applications, researchers are developing a single instrument comprehensive enough for a wide range of environmental analyses. Reducing the need for multiple analytical tools, this system should cut the costs and complexity of DOE’s environmental assessments.

LA-ICP-AES using a high resolution fiber optic interferometer — With a remarkable combination of small size, affordability and high sensitivity, Ames Lab’s new interferometric ICP-AES spectrometer should make detailed field-testing possible in areas where traditional methods lack the required selectivity and portability.

FTIR-Photoacoustic spectroscopy of solids — This technique reduces worker exposure to radiation because of the small sample size and the dramatic reduction in sample preparation needed, also making the technique faster and more cost-effective.

Monitoring Environmental Contaminants

Zero Tension Lysimeters — Offering expanded monitoring capabilities at a reduced cost, this new zero-tension lysimeter produces a more complete and accurate picture of soil and water flow to help guard against the spread of contaminants in upper regions of the soil.

Piezoelectric thin-film resonator sensors — Automatable, easy to maintain and cost-effective for wide-spread deployment, a new thin film resonator sensor system will help ensure the safety of underground storage tanks with continuous, simplified monitoring of the tanks’ potentially explosive gases.

Ultrasonic characterization of wastes — Safe, quick and cost-effective physical description of stored waste will help speed the decommissioning of storage tanks for newer, more effective waste treatment, storage and disposal.

Measurements by Transient Infrared Spectroscopies (TIRS) — Helping DOE improve waste solidification with continuous monitoring, Ames Lab’s new infrared spectrometry technique will allow process operators to maximize and document the quality of polymer-encapsulated waste for safer, more efficient storage and disposal.

Decontaminating Environmental Wastes

Laser decontamination of metals — This new technique that uses lasers for safe and effective metal decontamination produces little secondary waste and can reduce selected waste volumes (or at least lower waste classifications) and therefore reduce the hazards and costs of waste storage and disposal.

X-ray detector system helps evaluate facility contamination — Rapidly providing critical contaminant information on site, Ames Lab’s portable K-edge heavy metal detector should make the dismantling of DOE’s contaminated facilities easier, safer and more efficient.

Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing

Lead-free Solder Paste — The strength, heat resistance, workability and cost-effectiveness of Ames Lab’s new lead-free solder make it an attractive alternative for getting environmentally hazardous lead out of commonly used solders.

PCAST Report – Energy R&D in 21st Century

Federal Energy R&D in the 21st Century

The famous “PCAST” report is now available in hard copy and on-line.

This presidential panel, operating under the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the White House, reviewed all federal government energy R&D, in the context of restructuring and declining industry R&D budgets.

It concludes that R&D can accomplish a lot to reduce the cost of supply, increase productivity and support diversification of export. The recommendations emphasize efficiency, renewables, and public education.

Hardcopies can be obtained directly from OSTP
–contact N. Kelly by email at, or fax 202-651-7502

The entire report is online at

The first part of the executive summary, and the cover letter to the President are included here:




EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (introduction)
The United States faces major energy-related challenges as it enters the twenty-first century. Our economic well-being depends on reliable, affordable supplies of energy. Our environmental well-being—from improving urban air quality to abating the risk of global warming —requires a mix of energy sources that emits less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than today’ mix does. Our national security requires secure supplies of oil or alternatives to it, as well as prevention of nuclear proliferation. And for reasons of economy, environment, security, and stature as a world power alike, the United States must maintain its leadership in the science and technology of energy supply and use.

All of these energy-related challenges to the well-being of this country are made more acute by what is happening elsewhere in the world. The combination of population growth and economic development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America is driving a rapid expansion of world energy use, which is beginning to augment significantly the worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion, increasing pressures on world oil supplies, and exacerbating nuclear proliferation concerns. Means must be found to meet the economic aspirations and associated energy needs of all the world’s people while protecting the environment and preserving peace, stability, and opportunity.

Improvements in energy technologies, attainable through energy research and development, are the key to the capacity of the United States to address—and to help the rest of the world address —these challenges.

Many of the energy R&D programs of the Federal government, which are primarily conducted by the Department of Energy (DOE), have been well focused and effective within the limits of available funding. But these programs, taken as a whole, are not commensurate in scope and scale with the energy challenges and opportunities the twenty-first century will present. (This judgment takes into account the contributions to energy R&D that can reasonably be expected to be made by the private sector under market conditions similar to today’s.) The inadequacy of curren energy R&D is especially acute in relation to the challenge of responding prudently and cost-effectively to the risk of global climatic change from society’s greenhuse-gas emissions, of which the most important is carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels. Much of the new R&D needed to respond to this challenge would also be responsive to the other challenges.

To close the gap between the current energy R&D program and the one that the challenges require, the Panel recommends strengthening the DOE applied energy-technology R&D portfolio by increasing funding for four of its major elements (energy end-use efficiency, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and renewable energy technologies) and restructuring part of the fifth (fossil fuel technologies). We also recommend better coordination between the Department’s applied energy-technology programs and the fundamental research carried out in the program on Basic Energy Sciences; increased Department efforts in integrated analysis of its entire energy R&D portfolio and the leverage the portfolio offers against the energy challenges of the next century; targeted efforts to improve the prospects of commercialization of the fruits of publicly funded energy R&D in specific areas; increased attention to certain international aspects of energy R&D; and changes in the prominence given to energy R&D in relation to the Department’s other missions, coupled with changes in how this R&D is managed.


November 4, 1997

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

PCAST endorses the report’s findings that this country’s economic prosperity, environmental quality, national security, and world leadership in science and technology all require improving our energy technologies, and that an enhanced national R&D effort is needed to provide these improvements. The inadequacy of current energy R&D is especially acute in relation to the challenge of responding responsibly and cost-effectively to the risk of global climatic change from society’s greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels.

PCAST recommends focusing the government’s energy R&D on projects where high potential payoffs for society as a whole justify bigger R&D investments than industry would be likely to make on the basis of expected private returns and where modest government investments can effectively complement, leverage, or catalyze work in the private sector.

The report recommends an increase, over a five-year period, of $1 billion in the Department of Energy’s annual budget for applied energy-technology R&D. The largest shares of such an increase would go to R&D in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, but nuclear fusion and fission would also receive increases. The composition of the R&D supported on advanced fossil-fuel technologies would change in favor of longer-term opportunities, including fuel cells and carbon-sequestration technologies, but the overall spending level for fossil-fuel technologies would stay roughly constant in real terms.

The proposed total for FY 2003 would return the DOE’s real level of effort in applied energy-technology R&D in that year to about where it was in FY 1991 and FY 1992. In constant dollars, the average real growth rate would be 8.3 percent per year.

PCAST respectfully urges that you increase your efforts to communicate clearly to the public the importance of energy and energy R&D to the nation’s future, and PCAST recommends that you clearly designate the Secretary of Energy as the national leader and coordinator for developing and carrying out the national energy strategy.

The report also makes recommendations for improving the Department of Energy’s management of its energy R&D portfolio, including the naming of a single individual with responsibility for the whole portfolio and reporting directly to the Secretary.

The energy R&D portfolio PCAST proposes will be of crucial importance in meeting that challenge. Many of the energy-technologies that will help with the problem of climate change, moreover, will also help address other energy-related challenges, including reducing dependence on imported oil, diversifying the U.S. domestic fuel- and electricity-supply systems, expanding U.S. exports of energy technologies, reducing air and water pollution, and reducing the cost, safety and security risks of nuclear energy systems around the world.


John H. Gibbons
President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology

cc: Vice President Al Gore

Renewable Energy Annual 1997, Volume I

Renewable Energy Annual 1997
Volume I DOE/EIA-0603(97/1)

October 1997
Energy Information Administration
Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585


Questions regarding specific information in the report should be directed as follows:

Renewable Data Overview:
Fred Mayes (202/426-1166,

Biomass Energy:
Robert Lowe (202/426-1171,

Municipal Solid Waste:
John Carlin (202/426-1146,
Geothermal Energy:
Jim Disbrow (202/426-1185,

Wind Energy:
Louise Guey-Lee (202/426-1143,

Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic:
Peter Holihan (202/426-1147

This report, the Renewable Energy Annual 1997, Volume 1, is the third in a series of annual reports published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to provide current information on renewable energy. In doing so, this report provides detailed explanations of summary renewable energy information originally published in EIA’s Annual Energy Review 1996, released in July 1997. It also constitutes an annual update of renewable energy data presented in the Renewable Energy Annual 1996.

The publication of this report marks a change in the publication format of the Renewable Energy Annual. The prior two issues contained both renewable data and analytical material. This year, EIA has split the Renewable Energy Annual into two volumes in order to make data available more quickly. Volume 1 includes renewable energy consumption, capacity, and generation data, along with brief descriptive text. It also includes a chapter on solar (thermal and photovoltaic) manufacturing activity, and an appendix on the direct uses of geothermal energy. It is expected that a later version of this report will include a feature article titled, “A View of the Forest Products Industry From a Wood Energy Perspective.” The Renewable Energy Annual 1997, Volume 2, a topical issues analysis report, is scheduled to be published in Spring 1998.

This report covers the following energy sources: biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar. While hydropower is a renewable energy resource, it is also regarded as a conventional energy source because it has furnished a significant amount of electricity for more than a century. Therefore, this report discusses hydropower as it contributes to total renewable energy consumption but does not address hydropower as an individual energy source. Also, EIA collects data only on terrestrial systems. Satellite and military applications are not included in this report. See Appendix A, “EIA Renewable Energy Data Sources,” and Appendix B, “Renewable Data Limitations,” for more detail.

ECN West Coast Environmental CAPITAL FORUM

UFTO Utilities are especially invited to attend this event. Attendance is strictly limited to “qualified investors”. I would be pleased to attend on your behalf.


The Environmental Capital Network will conduct their:

–> West Coast Environmental CAPITAL FORUM An opportunity for promising COMPANIES raising capital, to present their business and business plans to qualified individual, professional, and corporate INVESTORS.

–> Registration has begun for INVESTORS who wish to attend.

Loch McCabe, ECN Director, 313-996-8387,


COMPANIES have already submitted application packages (deadline was early November). An independent Business Selection Committee of experienced investment professionals is reviewing each Application. They will ask ECN to forward business plans of approximately 25- 35 companies for further review and consideration. The Committee will recommend roughly 10 – 15 firms to present at the Forum. Those companies not selected will still have the opportunity to include a one-paragraph description of their firm in the Investor Attendee package.

The Capital Forum is best suited for early- and expansion-stage companies that are:
– Commercializing industrial process, energy, and environmental
technologies, products and services;
– Operating with an experienced management team;
– Seeking $500,000 to $10 Million to accelerate company
development and growth;
– Positioned for aggressive revenue expansion and
market penetration; and
– Prepared to supply a complete business plan,


About the Environmental Capital Network

– Adapted from the ECN website

ECN, the Environmental Capital Network, brings together environmental companies and investors, and offers services to both. We provide individual, professional, corporate and institutional investors with access to early stage and expansion companies commercializing environmental and “green” technologies, products and services, and we also assist such companies in more efficiently and effectively raising capital.

We offer three services to attain these goals: An Investors’ Bulletin and Capital Forums to bring together investors and companies, and a Business Plan Review to help companies improve their business plans.

For Investors:

For Companies:
We assist early- and mid-stage companies in raising capital. We work with a wide range of firms commercializing pollution prevention, recycling, alternative energy, energy conservation, remediation, “green,” and other environmentally-beneficial technologies, products and services. Please read more about these services for companies.