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Energy and Environment,

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Timely solutions for our nation’s energy security

Dennis Stiles

Manager (acting)
(509) 375-6374

At PNNL, our researchers are finding more efficient ways to use energy resources in transportation, buildings, and industry, and in advancing renewable energy technologies. Enabling the efficient use of energy resources, increasing productivity, and accelerating the use of renewable sources of electricity covers a broad spectrum of research—all backed by a diverse set of capabilities and experience.

We are working to drive down the costs of energy technologies, overcome challenges to large-scale renewable energy deployment, and revolutionize buildings as energy assets. Science, engineering, and supporting analysis at PNNL enables the efficient and sustainable use of energy resources and integrates both renewable energy and buildings with the grid.

Our research areas include

  • Energy Efficiency: We are committed to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of homes and buildings and to reducing their environmental footprint. PNNL's foundation of research and analysis for new lighting designs and performance, energy codes, and appliance standards well complements our work in early-stage technology development and evaluation. Multi-disciplinary teams at PNNL are leading the way in driving energy savings, enhancing whole-building performance, enabling grid-interactive buildings, and we are helping the federal sector become more energy efficient.
  • Transportation: Researchers at PNNL are developing the scientific and engineering foundations for converting biomass to biofuels that align with the current and future needs of a dynamic transportation energy sector. At the same time, we are making vehicles more efficient and cheaper to produce through lightweight materials while improving the design and energy storage capacity of next-generation batteries and lowering the cost of hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Renewable Power: The Columbia River is the nation’s most important hydropower resource, producing 40 percent of the nation’s hydroelectric generation. At the same time, wind now produces enough electricity to power 24 million U.S. homes per year. From water and wind to solar and geothermal energy, we are drawing on our strong base of science, engineering, and computational modeling to advance the potential of these American-made renewable energy sources.
  • Geothermal Energy Heats up with Dual Joint Appointments

    Geothermal Energy Heats up with Dual Joint Appointments

    PNNL's Alain Bonneville and Oregon State University's Adam Schultz began joint appointments at each other's institutions in January 2018. Their collaborative research focuses on harnessing the underground heat from volcanoes to produce electricity.

  • In the Lab 5,000 Feet Underground

    In the Lab 5,000 Feet Underground

    PNNL leads numerical modeling working group to investigate fracturing and fracture flow in nominally impermeable rock.

  • Getting Lighting Systems to Play Well With Others

    Illuminating Interoperability of Connected Lighting Systems

    PNNL researchers used the DOE Connected Lighting Test Bed in Portland, Oregon, to learn how various lighting systems share and respond to data. The ultimate goal: get more connected lighting systems into the marketplace, thereby saving energy and improving the user experience.

  • Workers walk through the Mayak nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in Russia in the 1960s

    Ethanol to Butadiene in a Single Step

    Researchers at PNNL recently developed a new catalyst capable of converting ethanol—a grain alcohol fermented from many renewable sources, such as corn, switchgrass, algae, and even waste gas from steel mills—into butadiene.

  • Simulations Show How Atoms Behave Inside Self-Healing Cement

    Simulations Show How Atoms Behave Inside Self-Healing Cement

    A PNNL team of computational scientists created a simulation model complex enough to represent all the salient features of PNNL's self-healing cement in both a slurry and in a cured state. This model helps explain how the self-healing cement works and shows that the cement may perform better than originally thought. This self-healing cement has the potential to save millions of dollars in repair costs at geothermal energy and oil and gas sites.

  • PNNL to Provide Capabilities, Expertise for Four LightMAT Projects

    PNNL to Provide Capabilities, Expertise for Four LightMAT Projects

    Access to the Department of Energy's national laboratory capabilities will further the development of lightweight materials technologies, constituting another step towards meeting Vehicle Technologies Office program objectives. Five American-based organizations will receive $2.25M in technical assistance from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

  • StimuFrac™: “Green” Fracking Fluid Can Be Used Virtually Anywhere

    StimuFrac™: "Green" Fracking Fluid Can Be Used Virtually Anywhere

    A PNNL-developed "green" fracking fluid, called StimuFrac™, consistently outperforms conventional methods of hydraulic fracturing and is feasible at various locations world-wide. The safe, non-toxic fluid could allow geothermal and oil and gas developers to reduce operating costs by up to 60 percent, while achieving up to 10,000 times higher permeability rates compared to conventional fracturing methods.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas