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INL takes four R&D 100 Awards at annual banquet


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ACT Film, developed by RedWave Energy from Idaho National Laboratory research, uses tiny nano-rectennas embedded in flexible plastic sheets that can be applied nearly anywhere to transform low-temperature industrial waste heat into electricity. |

IDAHO FALLS – Idaho National Laboratory received four R&D 100 awards at the annual banquet, held Friday night, November 16, in Orlando, Fla.

Since they were started by R&D Magazine in 1963, R&D 100 Awards have identified and celebrated the top technology products from the public and private sectors. The U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories typically have dozens of finalists every year. This year, there were 60 finalists from 13 national labs, with 11 coming from INL.

Researchers Todd Vollmer, Craig Rieger and Milos Manic won with Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS), an artificial intelligence breakthrough that can protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from devastating cyberattack. AICS works autonomously to give industries the power to quickly identify and divert hackers, using machine learning to identify and map industrial control systems. It can identify anomalous network traffic, alert operators and deploy virtual decoys to slow or halt hacking attempts. Following installation on an industrial control system and an initial learning phase, AICS automatically updates what it knows about a control system, adapting and remapping as it goes. AICS sets up and continually updates decoy virtual hosts – honeypots – to distract attackers from targets, giving asset owners the ability and time to gather information that can help identify both a hacking threat and a potentially compromised system.

INL received co-developer credit with RedWave Energy for Antenna Coupled Thz (ACT) Film, capable of harvesting low-temperature waste heat at power plants. Each sheet of ACT Film is made of tiny, square, gold-wire rectennas embedded in polyethylene, plastic sheeting that can be used nearly anywhere. The ACT Film absorbs heat between 70 and 250 degrees Celsius and converts it to electricity. Conceivably, composite stacks of ACT Film could be engineered to be compatible with existing power plant designs and used to replace cooling towers. By recovering 20 percent of low-temperature waste heat at a typical power plant, the electricity generated would equal the amount produced by burning 112,000 tons of coal in a year.

Researchers Gus Caffrey, Kenneth Krebs and Jayson Wharton received a Special Recognition Award (Corporate Social Responsibility) for On-Site Inspection RadioIsotopic Spectroscopy (OSIRIS), a portable, rugged gamma ray spectroscopy and laptop computer system for nuclear explosion detection that can be taken anywhere in the world to perform precise on-site inspections. Since the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, the vision has been that all nations would one day eventually ratify it to guarantee the world’s collective safety and security with regard to nuclear weapons. The world is still waiting for full ratification, but when that happens – as millions hope it will – there will be a need for advanced tools to ensure compliance with treaty obligations. To satisfy the security concerns of treaty signatories – various countries may disagree about which radioisotopes at a test site raise security concerns – OSIRIS uses a “data filter” to limit the information it collects to 17 fission-product radioisotopes agreed upon by international technical experts.

OSIRIS is a portable, rugged gamma ray spectroscopy and computer system that can be used for nuclear explosion detection nearly anywhere across the globe without revealing sensitive information. |

Jack Law, Troy Garn and Mitchell Greenhalgh with Steve Hammon of Global Phosphate Solutions received a Green Tech Special Recognition Award for their Phosphate Sponge, which provides an environmentally safe solution for remediating freshwater algae blooms caused by phosphate pollution from sewage treatment plants, animal feeding operations and fertilizer runoff. Filled with a proprietary powder developed by Rocky Mountain Scientific Corp., the beads in the Phosphate Sponge are made of an INL-developed sorbent material. When contaminated water is passed through a column or bed containing the beads, contaminants are absorbed by ion exchange. This reduces phosphate levels in water to merely a few parts per billion, sometimes even nondetectable levels. Like a sponge, the beads can also be “wrung out” and reused indefinitely, and the phosphates extruded from the beads can be recycled as fertilizer feedstock ingredients.

This article was first published by It is used here with permission.