News Release

Release Date: July 09, 2013

NETL Innovations Recognized with R&D 100 Awards


Washington, DC — Two technologies advanced by the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in collaboration with strategic partners have been recognized by R&D Magazine as among the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the commercial marketplace within the past year.

This year’s awards recognize NETL’s partner, MDS Coating Technologies Corporation (MCT), for their work in developing an erosion-resistant nanocoating, and the efforts of NETL and partner Allegheny Technologies, Inc., in developing a method to monitor melting and refining of specialty metals.

 BlackGold® Nanocoating

  • During aircraft operation, gas turbine engines are continuously exposed to erosive media that damage engine components. Nanostructured coatings applied to compressor airfoil surfaces can significantly reduce material loss, leading to improved engine performance and fuel efficiency. Researchers at MCT have designed an erosion-resistant nanocoating material and application process, which significantly reduces erosion of compressor airfoils. MCT teamed with scientists and engineers at NETL and Delta Air Lines to perform critical tests required for FAA certification needed to deploy the protective coating on commercial aircraft. The FAA-approved nanocoating has the potential to save the U.S. commercial aviation industry up to 100 million gallons of fuel annually and realize cost savings greater than $300 million per year at today’s jet fuel prices.

Arc Position Sensing

  • Vacuum arc remelting (VAR) is the primary method for melting and refining specialty metals for aerospace and other advanced applications. Defects in the ingots from VARs can cause catastrophic failure in their end use. Flaws are often caused by solidification problems due to operational characteristics, such as constricting of arcs during melting. Previously, these conditions could not be identified during furnace operations, requiring ingot manufacturers to perform extensive testing on all ingots. NETL’s Arc Position Sensing (APS) technology allows operators to digitally monitor arc location during melting, identifying deleterious operating conditions quickly and avoiding known conditions that may lead to defects. Viewing electric arcs with the APS reduces defects and provides quality control critical for safety; it could also lead to the production of materials with stronger chemical and mechanical homogeneity, increasing yield in the specialty metals and alloys used in critical industries, such as the airline industry.

Many within industry, government laboratories, and academia regard R&D 100 Awards as instrumental in identifying state-of-the art technologies and helping to move innovative science into the public marketplace. The annual awards, known as the "Oscars of Invention," are selected by an independent panel of judges and the editors of R&D Magazine. "My sincere congratulations to the winners of this year's R&D 100 Awards," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "The scientists and engineers who developed these award-winning technologies at the cutting edge facilities across our national labs are keeping Americans at the forefront of the innovation community and assuring our nation's economic competitiveness and national security."

Since introduction in 1963, the R&D 100 Awards have identified game-changing technologies across a diverse range of scientific disciplines including telecommunications, biotechnology, software, high-energy physics, diagnostics, and manufacturing. Winning technologies that have moved into the public sector included the digital wristwatch, antilock brakes, the automated teller machine, the halogen lamp, the fax machine, the NicoDerm® anti-smoking patch, and HDTV.

This year marks the 51st year of R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Awards. Winners will be recognized at the R&D 100 Awards Banquet on November 7, 2013, at the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World. 


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