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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.

  • Two Brains are Better Than One: How the Geothermal Community Upped the Game for Computer Codes

    Two Brains are Better Than One: How the Geothermal Community Upped the Game for Computer Codes

    The purpose of the Geothermal Technologies Office Code Comparison Study is to determine how well the geothermal research community characterizes and models enhanced geothermal systems. The study brought together 11 research institutions to test, compare, improve, and discuss their numerical simulators. These codes have the potential to help facilitate widespread geothermal energy development.

  • Tune-Ups: Servicing Buildings from the Roof, Down

    Tune-Ups: Servicing Buildings from the Roof, Down

    In 2018, one of America's most iconic and energy efficient cities will require that large commercial buildings receive periodic tune-ups. Seattle is currently partnering with DOE and PNNL to give building owners a head-start. How'd we get here? Our video timeline chronicles the events leading up to Seattle's decision to implement PNNL's building Re-tuning™ methodology.

  • Hawaii Says Aloha to Building Energy Savings

    Hawaii Says Aloha to Building Energy Savings

    Aloha State is perusing the adoption of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code. The change, in part, is driven by simulation and analysis findings from researchers at PNNL, which showed that the adoption of the 2015 code could reduce residential energy costs by 21 percent.

  • Research Artwork Featured on Advanced Materials Interfaces

    Research Artwork Featured on Advanced Materials Interfaces

    Artwork depicting research on a new metal organic framework technique was chosen to grace the cover of an esteemed scientific journal. PNNL collaborated with Texas A&M University on the research.

  • How the Wind Blows

    How the Wind Blows

    Scientists at PNNL worked with partners to study the effect of different variables in forecasting wind speed and power at turbine hub heights. Using a range of values as opposed to values that were previously viewed as constants, the team found depending on the variables chosen, wind power could range from 20 to 100 percent of the rated power during select time periods.

  • Sturgeon

    Sturgeon, Lamprey, and Eel: Special Tags for Special Fish

    Small, long-lasting new fish tags developed by PNNL allows researchers to better study the lives of adult eels, lamprey, and sturgeon. By studying migration patterns of these species around hydropower dams, scientists can increase safe fish passage rates around waterway structures.

  • The Ultimate Wind Energy Research Assistant: WREN Hub

    The Ultimate Wind Energy Research Assistant: WREN Hub

    A PNNL-developed website called Tethys supports a growing community of researchers, regulators, and developers in the areas of wind and marine energy. Tethys added a resource called WREN Hub to provide users with an easily searchable database of white papers and scientific reports regarding how wind energy devices impact wildlife.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas