IDAHO FALLS – Four Idaho National Laboratory technologies are among the winners of the annual R&D 100 Awards. Widely known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” the awards bestowed by R&D World recognize the winners as being among the top 100 revolutionary technologies of 2019.
Since their inception in 1963, the awards have celebrated research and development technologies from across the public and private sectors. Laboratories and companies from throughout the nation submitted nominations for judging. A panel comprised of more than 40 industry-leading experts then ranked the nominees based on their technical significance, uniqueness, and applicability across industry, government and academia. Typically, the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories have dozens of finalists every year. Of 2019’s 162 finalists, 54 included the involvement of DOE national labs, with six technologies listing INL as the lead inventor and two labeling the lab as a supporting organization. With the inclusion of this year’s winners, INL has now won 22 R&D 100 Awards since 2005.
Winning technologies led by INL:
Electronic Neutron Generator Calibration System (N-meter)
David Chichester, Scott Thompson, James Johnson, Scott Watson, Robert Schley, Jay Hix
The N-meter is a portable, reusable, and adaptable device that has the capability to calibrate any electronic neutron generator (ENG), regardless of manufacturer. ENGs provide law enforcement officers and military personnel with the ability to detect the presence of harmful materials used in chemical, radiological and explosive attacks. The N-meter actively ensures that the devices are accurate and properly calibrated to perform any mission. By enabling this vital step for ENGs, the device can help protect Americans from nuclear threats, improve natural resource exploration, create biomedical advances and much more.
High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouples (HTIR-TC)
Richard Skifton, Josh Daw, Kurt Davis, Pattrick Calderoni
Until now, nuclear instruments have had difficulty obtaining precise reactor temperature measurements, forcing scientists to rely on estimates. Now, the High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouples (HTIR-TC) can be inserted directly into the fuel centerline to precisely read fuel temperatures at the reactor’s core. With more accurate information about core temperatures, engineers can make nuclear reactors safer and more reliable.
Wireless radio Frequency signal Identification and protocol Reverse Engineering (WiFIRE)
Christopher Becker, Kurt Derr, Samuel Ramirez, Sneha Kasera, Aniqua Baset
WiFIRE helps combat wireless attacks by monitoring wireless networks in real time, giving users the ability to respond to security breaches as they’re occurring. Should it detect rogue devices, WiFIRE provides security measures like alerting law enforcement personnel, blocking unwanted data transmission, starting data and/or video recording for potential legal use, and even locating intruders before damage is done. The technology helps protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, making attacks on the power grid and water supply increasingly difficult.
Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering
Robert Smith, Curtis St. Michel, Amanda Belloff, Andy Bochman, Sarah Freeman, Michael Assante
Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering (CCE) is a methodology that provides users with knowledge and skills to protect against and prepare for serious cyberthreats against the nation’s critical infrastructure systems. CCE identifies processes and functions that must not fail, then outlines steps organizations must take in order for their assets to remain secure. By re-engineering key processes while armed with a full understanding of the attackers’ tactics and options, CCE reduces or eliminates digital pathways used by attackers to reach critical systems, effectively removing the targets with the highest consequences from the table.
Finalist technologies led by INL:
Lithium-ion battery defect detector (Battery Health Sentry)
Sergiy Sazhin, Kevin Gering, Eric Dufek
With the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries, companies are being plagued by explosions, fires and other toxic discharges caused by minor defects in devices’ batteries. In a matter of minutes, the Battery Health Sentry can locate defective components that lead to these harmful effects. As a result, the technology could save manufacturers of cellphones, electric vehicles, aircraft and other products billions of dollars in testing and product recalls by detecting these defects before they lead to catastrophic failure.
Wireless sensor system for online monitoring of valve position
Vivek Agarwal, John Buttles
The wireless valve position indication sensor system solves a pressing need to lower operation and maintenance costs in industrial systems such as nuclear power plants. The sensor system automates a previously labor-intensive task of assessing valve position, leading to a significant cost reduction and improved efficiency, ultimately providing a more accurate understanding of a plant’s overall status. In doing so, the device also enhances worker safety by eliminating the requirement for personnel to move in and through hazardous areas.
Finalist technologies supported by INL:
Waste-to-Energy Ionic Gasification Technology (Ionic Gasifier)
Cogent Energy Systems, Inc. with support from Idaho National Laboratory
Peter Kong, Rodney Bitsoi, Dean Burt, Thomas DiSanto
Millions of small-scale waste producers lack a viable way to process local waste on site, much less turn it into valuable products like electricity, fuels or chemicals. Cogent’s ionic gasifier can give businesses or communities, no matter how small or remote, the ability to eliminate their waste streams on site while generating electricity that they can use or sell.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with support from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Effectively designing, analyzing, and implementing modern energy systems relies heavily on advanced modeling that captures both the cyber and physical domains in combined simulations. The Hierarchical Engine for Large-scale Infrastructure Co-Simulation (HELICS) is a layered, high-performance, co-simulation framework that builds on the collective experience of multiple national labs. When modeling advanced features of power and cyber-physical energy systems, HELICS utilizes the input of the labs to ensure a highly accurate and precise outcome.
INL is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.