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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.

  • Perfect Score: New Tool Makes Energy Efficiency Easy

    Perfect Score: New Tool Makes Energy Efficiency Easy

    PNNL's Building Energy Asset Score takes the car sales fuel economy sticker approach and applies it to buying and leasing buildings. The new tool assigns buildings a score of 1 to 10 based on user inputs such as gross floor area, address, and year of construction.

  • How to Make a Modern Grid

    Beg, Borrow, and Share—A Unique Solution to Balance the Power Grid

    A new PNNL project called Multi-scale Incentive-Based Control of Distributed Assets aims to develop an incentive-based control system for distributed energy resources to balance power demand and supply, increase grid reliability, and decrease carbon emissions. The project was recently selected for nearly $2.7 million in funding from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program.

  • Balancing the Benefits of Emerging LED Technology

    Balancing the Benefits of Emerging LED Technology

    A new study on "white-tunable" LED lights is helping researchers better understand the technology's benefits and limitations for architectural lighting uses. This new class of lighting products allows users to adjust the light color for use in classrooms, offices, retail spaces, healthcare settings, and even homes.

  • Carlos Fernandez

    Physical Chemist Carlos Fernandez's Team Wins IChemE Global Award

    PNNL chemist Carlos Fernandez and his team of researchers received the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering from the Institution of Chemical Engineers for their efforts in developing non-toxic hydraulic fracturing fluid. The fluid can be used to make fracking more productive and environmentally friendly.

  • Where There Is Waste, There Is Energy—and Opportunity

    Where There Is Waste, There Is Energy—and Opportunity

    Small, tailored mini-refineries located where waste is produced—such as farms and ranches, waste water treatment plants, food processing centers, and similar locations—could convert much of the nation's abandoned carbon into useful energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this case, bigger is not better, which presents challenges in terms of both engineering and catalysis.

  • Buoy Makes a Splash off New Jersey Coast

    Buoy Makes a Splash off New Jersey Coast

    A $1.3 million buoy, the second of its kind, was recently deployed off of the coast of New Jersey. The buoys are equipped with meteorological and oceanographic gear that measures and helps predict the power-producing potential of winds that blow off shores in the United States.

  • The skyline in Vancouver, British Columbia

    Building Efficiency for Neighbors to the North

    BC Hydro—the predominant utility in British Columbia—faces an electricity demand increase of 40 percent by 2035. They recently partnered with PNNL to identify and analyze practical design solutions for office buildings and apartments.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas