Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
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.

  • Highly magnetic, black magnetite nanoparticles are functionalized with a brownish colored metal-organic framework (MOF) shell.

    Magnetic Attraction Extracts Valuable Rare Earth Elements

    By looking at a problem at a nanoscale level, PNNL researchers are developing an economic way to extract valuable rare earth elements from geothermal fluids. This novel approach may help meet the high demand for rare earth elements that are used in many clean energy technologies.

  • Eric Nyberg receives Special Recognition Award from DOE Vehicle Technologies Office

    Researcher Recognized for 10 Years of Efforts in Lightweight Materials Program

    At the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and Vehicle Technologies Office's (VTO) 2016 Annual Merit Review, PNNL's Eric Nyberg was awarded with the 2016 DOE VTO Special Recognition Award for his leadership, enthusiasm, and tireless effort over 10 years in support of the Magnesium Front End Research and Development Program.

  • IEEE Power & Energy Magazine’s May/June cover

    Transactive Times: Three PNNL Researchers Featured in Special Issue

    The May/June 2016 issue of IEEE's Power & Energy Magazine focuses on a topic that the grid gurus at PNNL hold dear: transactive energy. Three of PNNL's own leaders in the transactive energy continuum are featured in the issue, which may help demystify transactive energy and put it on the map as a novel approach for energy management.

  •  Scale-up of Aviation Biofuels from Alcohols Reaching New Heights

    Scale-up of Aviation Biofuels from Alcohols Reaching New Heights

    Over the course of a 10-hour flight, a passenger airliner burns roughly 36,000 gallons of fuel—about one gallon every second. As such, developing cleaner alternative sources of jet fuel is a priority for the airline industry and DOE.

  • Architecture-Friendly Organic Light-Emitting Diodes Studied in Demonstration

    Architecture-Friendly Organic Light-Emitting Diodes Studied in Demonstration

    Organic lighting-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are used today for television and cell phone displays, but this breakthrough technology is new to office lighting. So when Aurora Lighting Design, Inc. elected to take a chance on OLEDs in their office space, DOE's GATEWAY program followed up to learn about the experience and perform their first field measurements on OLED lighting.

  • Samuel Harding and Marshall Richmond

    Marine Energy Paper Chosen from Among Sea of Candidates

    PNNL researchers Samuel Harding and Marshall Richmond's co-authored paper was selected to receive a 2015 Outstanding Paper Award from Measurement Science and Technology. The paper was downloaded more than 500 times in the first 90 days after publication.

  • If the Grid Becomes a Value Exchange, How Do We Assign Value to it?

    If the Grid Becomes a Value Exchange, How Do We Assign Value to it?

    In Transactive Systems (TS), value is exchanged between parties through a technology-enabled platform. When applied to electricity, this approach has the potential to provide critical flexibility to the grid, as well as increased value to individuals, buildings, and society. Researchers from PNNL and Navigant Consulting analyze this approach and offer insights and recommendations in a new report, Valuation of Transactive Systems.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas