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Energy and Environment,

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Mike Rinker

(509) 375-6623

At PNNL, we believe that greater energy efficiency throughout buildings, improved technologies for enabling renewables – such as wind, water, solar, and biomass – and new vehicle technology, including storage systems for electric vehicles, can lead to timely solutions to our nation's energy challenges. We are a team of chemical, environmental, and materials scientists, economists, and engineers who are finding more efficient ways to use energy resources in transportation, buildings, and industry, and advancing clean, renewable energy.

Buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption in the United States – more than any other sector in our economy. Residential and commercial buildings use energy daily for heating and cooling, lighting and water, and to run appliances and electronics. Much of this energy comes from burning coal or natural gas, which releases carbon dioxide – the most abundant of greenhouse gases – into the atmosphere. Automobiles present similar issues, but with a variety of alternative fuels and advancing vehicle technologies, they are creating less greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our dependence on foreign oils. PNNL's expertise in bioenergy, including catalysis for bio-diesel and jet fuels, has led to cleaner exhaust, petroleum alternatives, and the advancement of the transportation industry.

Our science base is also the foundation of a long history addressing national challenges in renewable energy. For example, PNNL leadership in science and engineering for sustainable hydropower in the Pacific Northwest is leading to increased fish passage safety and optimized hydroelectric power plants that can be applied at the national scale. Efficient and environmentally friendly energy generation is essential for meeting the demands of a growing consumer base.

  • Researchers Set Out to Fill Scientific Gaps of Understanding Regarding Reservoir Emissions

    Researchers Set Out to Fill Scientific Gaps of Understanding Regarding Reservoir Emissions

    Methane emissions from hydropower reservoirs in temperate climates are a poorly understood source of greenhouse gas. Researchers from PNNL studied the methane emissions of two hydropower reservoirs in Washington State to better understand this phenomenon.

  • Researcher Michael Poplawski

    Power Over Ethernet — Power Over Lighting

    A recently published report—authored by PNNL lighting research engineers Jason Tuenge and Michael Poplawski—represents the first part of a DOE study to explore the energy reporting capability of commercially marketed power over ethernet connected lighting systems, which may become a data-collection platform that enables greater energy savings in buildings and cities.

  • Sky Glow: A Case of the Blues

    Sky Glow: A Case of the Blues

    An increasing number of cities are undertaking street light conversion projects&mdah;switching to energy-efficient light-emitting diodes. However, dark-sky advocates have voiced concerns about possible increases in sky glow resulting from ongoing LED conversions. Researchers at PNNL explored these concerns and found that residents within a city are not likely to experience worsened sky glow as a result of LEDs and, in fact, will possibly realize an improved situation.

  • Interior Lighting Campaign Reaches New Heights, Saves $24 Million

    Interior Lighting Campaign Reaches New Heights, Saves $24 Million

    The DOE Better Buildings Alliance's Interior Lighting Campaign awarded participants at the 2017 BOMA International Conference and Expo for upgrading nearly 600,000 troffers with new, energy-saving technology. If all troffer systems in the country were upgraded to performance levels of that achieved by these recognized participants, they could collectively save $5.3 billion for the nation.

  • Meazon's wireless metering system

    Wireless Metering Challenge

    To overcome the cost barrier associated with installing metering systems, researchers at PNNL developed and led the DOE Low-Cost Wireless Metering Challenge. The Challenge spurred market introduction of a low-cost, wireless system that measures electricity use at various locations in a building and communicates data wirelessly to a local collection point, resulting in the system developed by Meazon.

  • ThermalTracker

    ThermalTracker: The Secret Lives of Bats and Birds Revealed

    Offshore wind developers and stakeholders can accelerate the sustainable, widespread deployment of offshore wind using a new open-source software program called ThermalTracker. Researchers can now collect the data they need to better understand the potential effects of offshore wind turbines on bird and bat populations.

  • Bing Liu

    Bing Liu Selected to Chair Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

    Bing Liu was selected as the conference co-chair for the 2018 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas