The annual R&D 100 Awards, also dubbed the “Oscars of Invention,” celebrate the world’s best applied technology resulting from research and development by industry, academia, and government-sponsored entities. Once again, Sandia National Laboratories has earned its place on the list of winners, this year with 3 of its 5 awards (see below) related to Energy and Climate. R&D 100 Awards signify and support the value of our Energy and Climate mission by recognizing the applications of our extensive research efforts directed at solving pressing energy, climate, and energy infrastructure problems.
Rising global energy usage has placed unprecedented demands on an aging electrical grid that must be revolutionized not only to become more efficient, but also to become more reliable through the integration of renewables and energy storage systems. To achieve greater reliability, next-generation power-conversion technology will use high-voltage SiC (silicon carbide) devices to reduce switching losses, or energy dissipation, throughout a system. United Silicon Carbide, Inc., and Sandia National Laboratories’ 6.5-kV SiC device and power module—the 6.5kV Enhancement-Mode Silicon Carbide JFET Switch—represents a high-voltage module based on reliable, normally-off SiC JFETs (junction field-effect transistors). This on/off switch is 20 times more effective at reducing switching losses and exhibits the fastest turn-on and turn-off of any similarly rated power module.
Bright future for low-cost LED Pulser invention
Sandia’sLED Pulser invention is a low-cost, high-brightness, fast-pulsed, multi-color light-emitting diode (LED) driver. The technology uses custom electronic circuitry to drive high-power LEDs to generate light pulses with shorter duration, higher repetition frequency, and higher brightness than commercial off-the-shelf systems. A single device can emit up to four different colors, each with independent pulse timing. The four colors are emitted from a nearly coincident source area, a feature crucial for creating light beams in many optical applications. The pulser’s capabilities have enabled various science, engineering, and R&D applications otherwise possible only with far more expensive light sources and optics.
In his 2015 State-of-the-Union address, President Obama said, “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” To confront the immediate grand challenge of efficient carbon capture to mitigate climate change, Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico designed the CO2 Memzyme, a significant advance in gas separation technology. The new memzyme surpasses earlier polymeric membrane technology by capturing more carbon dioxide, faster, from a gas mixture while simultaneously producing nearly pure carbon dioxide (99%) for industrial re-use. The memzyme is the the first technology that meets or exceeds U.S. Department of Energy targets for cost-effective carbon capture. This invention also won the R&D 100 contest’s Green Technology Special Recognition Gold Award.