Researchers and engineers at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have won two R&D 100 Awards, pushing their national lab-leading total to 109 since the awards began in 1963.
The awards, announced today by ORNL Director Bill Madia, are presented annually by R&D Magazine in recognition of the year's most significant technological innovations. ORNL's 109 R&D 100 awards place it first among DOE laboratories and second only to General Electric.
"I'm proud of the award-winning work done at ORNL," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "These accomplishments demonstrate the value of government-funded research to our nation."
The awards were for the following processes or inventions: Protein Structure Prediction and Evaluation Computer Toolkit (PROSPECT), developed and submitted by Ying Xu and Dong Xu of ORNL.
The toolkit is a suite of computational tools designed to predict three-dimensional structures of proteins from their amino acid sequences. Knowledge of these highly specific three-dimensional structures is vital to the study of disease, the development of drugs and genome research. The employment of a new method called "threading" allows PROSPECT to determine a protein's geometry in a matter of hours, in contrast to the months or years required by current experimental approaches.
Drop-In Residential Heat Pump Water Heater, developed by Van Baxter, Richard Murphy, John Tomlinson and Randall Linkous of ORNL. This is a joint winner with ECR International of Dunkirk, N.Y., and Arthur D. Little of Cambridge, Mass.
The 50-gallon water heater uses one-third as much electricity as a conventional electric water heater. The energy reduction is accomplished through the use of a small heat pump to extract heat from the surrounding air - leaving it cool and dehumidified. The water heater is the first unit of its kind to be both economically attractive and easy to install, making it a viable replacement for traditional electric water heaters. ORNL researchers estimate that if one-half of America's existing electric water heaters were replaced by the new drop-in device, the nation's entire energy consumption would be reduced by one percent.
ORNL is a DOE multi-program facility operated by UT-Battelle.