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Browse Success Stories

As laboratories partner with companies and entrepreneurs, technologies are moved out of the laboratory and into the market, furthering renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses.

These success stories highlight some of the effective licensing and partnership activity between laboratories and industry.

17 Success Stories
CategoryTitle and AbstractCompany / LaboratoriesDate
Nexus BioEnergy Developing Enhanced Organic Waste Recycling Technology From CSU

An introduction facilitated by the EERE's Energy Innovation Portal has led to the formation of a Colorado start-up company. Syed Reza, now a co-founder of Nexus BioEnergy, originally used the Techportal to search out promising biogas technologies. In a message sent through the portal, Syed contacted Jeremy Nelson, Director of Licensing & Business Development for CSU Ventures, which acts as the university technology transfer office for Colorado State. After several months of... read more

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

NREL has joined forces with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop a plug-and-play technology that will result in newly connected solar generation being automatically "discovered" and configured by the main generation control system. NREL will perform a review of communications protocols to identify important protocols that the plug-and-play solar microgrid controller must be compatible with. CSIRO will also collaborate with... read more

NREL Science Central to Success of New Biofuels Projects:

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) played crucial roles in developing the technology that has led companies such as DuPont, POET, and Abengoa to open commercial-scale facilities to turn biomass into clean transportation fuels.

Combined, the three facilities are a huge step toward meeting the Department's goals of producing clean energy from the non-food parts of plants, creating good American jobs, mitigating greenhouse gases, and boosting... read more


NREL is partnering with solar inverter manufacturer Solectria at the ESIF to develop 500- and 750-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) inverters with advanced features that can support the electric grid.


The ESIF’s utility-scale power hardware allows Solectria to test its inverters using simulated utility grid and solar PV emulation so researchers can see the impact of the inverter’s advanced features on power reliability and quality. The?ESIF’s grid... read more


Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society are working with NREL at the ESIF on the Little Box Challenge, an open competition challenging engineers to build smaller power inverters for use in photovoltaic (PV) power systems.


Up to 18 finalists in the Challenge will be invited to bring their inverter to the ESIF in 2015 for testing and evaluation against the contest parameters. NREL’s world-class researchers will use the state-of-the-art capabilities of the... read more

Partnerships Drive New Transportation Solutions

Hybrid car sales have taken off in recent years, with a fuel-sipping combination of electric- and gas-powered technologies that simultaneously deliver energy efficiency, low emissions, and strong performance. The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—which played a pivotal role in putting hybrids on the road—has applied a similar strategy to its talent base and partnerships, bringing together the best minds from the worlds of research and industry.

... read more

Crystal Solar and NREL Team Up to Cut Costs

A faster, cheaper way to manufacture silicon solar cells, partially funded by the Energy Department and fine-tuned at its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has won a coveted R&D 100 award as one of the top technology innovations of 2013.

Crystal Solar's approach to growing high-quality, high-efficiency silicon wafers at 100 times the usual throughput and half the cost could be a game-changer, creating American jobs and stemming the flow of solar cell manufacturing... read more

Innovative Microwave Technology

Hadron Technologies, Inc. has signed an exclusive license for a Hybrid Microwave and Off-Gas Treatment System developed by the Savannah River National Laboratory, the Department of Energy's applied science laboratory, to manufacture and sell the SRNL-developed system.

This new form of hybrid microwave is capable of achieving extremely high temperatures by enabling materials that usually do not react to microwave energy to absorb it and rapidly heat up.  Metals, which normally... read more

Award-Winning Etching Process Cuts Solar Cell Costs

Optimizing solar-cell technology can be a complex job, requiring expertise in material science, physics, and optics to convert as much sunlight as possible into electricity. But despite this complexity, a simple fact is key to making a high-performance solar cell: any sunlight reflected off the cell can’t possibly be converted into electricity.

Manufacturers have tried to minimize the reflection of sunlight off of solar cells by first chemically etching... read more

LED North America

LED North America (LEDNA), founded in 2008, is a company located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee that produces LED alternatives for commercial lighting for applications such as roadways, parking lots, parking garages, and indoor high bay applications. The company is located in Oak Ridge at an incubator facility for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. LEDNA licensed an innovative graphite foam developed at ORNL by James Klett, and now LED North America provides advanced light fixtures that illuminate... read more

GeoSprings Hybrid Water Heater

In 2009, GE entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test the new, more energy efficient water heater called the GeoSprings Hybrid Water Heater. The GeoSpring water heater combines energy-saving heat-pump technology with traditional electric elements using a fraction of the energy. The integrated compressor and evaporator use a fan to draw in ambient heat from surrounding air to heat refrigerant. Then the heated refrigerant runs... read more

Vorbeck Materials Licenses Graphene-based Battery Technologies

Vorbeck Materials Corp of Jessup, MD participated in the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator program, a part of the Startup America initiative, allowing the company to quickly and efficiently license a substantial portfolio of graphene-based battery technologies, developed with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Princeton University.  

 PNNL and Princeton's pioneering work in the field of graphene-based battery electrodes,... read more

High Strength Nano-Structured Steel


The NanoSteel Company

Complex modern challenges are driving new industrial market demands for metal alloys with properties and performance capabilities outside the known boundaries of existing materials. The NanoSteel Company’s portfolio of proprietary nano-structured steels is new technology designed to solve these challenges while leveraging the inherent benefits of steel.

NanoSteel is a leader in nano-structured steel materials design. NanoSteel partners with... read more

Berkeley Lab Startup Brings Fuel Cells to the Developing World

In some parts of the developing world, people may live in homes without electricity or toilets or running water but yet they own cell phones. To charge those phones, they may have to walk for miles to reach a town charging station—and possibly even have to leave their phones overnight. Now a startup company spun off technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a simple, inexpensive way to provide electricity to the 2.5 billion people in the... read more

From Laboratory to Industry: Unlocking the Potential of Graphene

Graphene, the much-vaunted "super material" that catapulted onto the materials science scene just nine years ago, offers extraordinary opportunities for industries interested in everything from supercomputers to renewable energy. Unfortunately, graphene's singular characteristics come at the price of a challenging synthesis processes—weaving two-dimensional, atom-thin tapestries from carbon atoms requires considerable craft.

Armed with just such expertise, physicists... read more

Argonne and CalBattery strike deal for silicon-graphene anode material

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, located outside of Chicago, and California Lithium Battery, Inc. (CalBattery), a Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator portfolio company, announced today that they have signed a licensing agreement for an Argonne-developed, silicon-graphene composite anode material for high-energy lithium batteries.

CalBattery plans to move forward rapidly in the commercial scale-up and production of this breakthrough novel composite anode... read more

NREL and SkyFuel Partnership Reflects Bright Future for Solar Energy

Huge parabolic mirrors catching the sun's rays could crisscross America's deserts soon, thanks to a breakthrough that may greatly lower the cost of solar power.

A small solar company has teamed with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop massive curved sheets of metal that have the potential to be 30 percent less expensive than today's best collectors of concentrated solar power.

The SkyTrough Parabolic Trough Solar Concentrating Collectors will... read more