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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.
  • PNNL Staff Are Among the 'Titans of Nuclear'

    Sustainable Jet Fuel: The Flight Path from Fundamental Science to Applied Technology

    PNNL's thermocatalytic process opened the door to sustainable jet fuel from low-cost waste gases. Commercial partner LanzaTech will build a U.S. facility to make millions of gallons of ethanol-based fuel annually.

  • Shedding Light on Increasingly Bright Night Skies

    Shedding Light on Increasingly Bright Night Skies

    When a recent study confirmed the Earth is getting brighter at night, attributing much of the increase to needless waste resulting from LEDs reducing the cost of lighting and hence driving unwarranted increases in its use, PNNL researchers felt compelled to respond. Their paper, "Light at Night—A Delicate Balance," offers an alternative perspective on what we can—and cannot—conclude about new evidence of brightening night skies.

  • In rural southwest Washington state, new culverts replace a tide gate and reconnect a wetland to the Grays River and Columbia River estuary.

    Restoring Salmon Ecosystems on the Columbia River

    The once "Mighty Columbia" now is channelized and fragmented, with infrastructure cutting off much of the river from wetlands—and affecting salmon migrations. A PNNL-led research team has shown that reconnecting former wetlands, with new culverts, improves the base of a healthy aquatic food web and aids in salmon restoration.

  • Seawater yields first grams of yellowcake

    Start Your Engines - With Next-Generation Fuels from Co-Optima

    A national laboratory team identified new mixtures that combine bio- and petroleum-based fuels. These could deliver significantly improved performance and savings at the pump, while giving refiners and fuel producers more flexibility in making their products.

  • "Hot" New Cathode Finding Could Boost Battery Performance

    Researchers at PNNL have found a novel way of synthesizing cathode materials, adding a step that could help batteries last longer and perform better. A paper capturing the details recently appeared in the journal Nature Energy.

  • Liu Receives DOE Distinguished Achievement Award

    Liu Receives DOE Distinguished Achievement Award

    Jun Liu honored with DOE Distinguished Achievement Award for world-class leadership of Battery500 Consortium.

  • How Wastewater Treatment Plants Could Be Pumping Out Fuel Instead of Sludge

    How Wastewater Treatment Plants Could Be Pumping Out Fuel Instead of Sludge

    Researchers at PNNL have been developing hydrothermal liquefaction—or HTL—for the past four decades. With this technique, they can perform in about 30 minutes the same processes that naturally form fossil fuels over millions of years. The result is a biocrude that can be further refined into blendstock for conventional engine fuel.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas