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US Department of Energy National Science Bowl

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PNNL's newest awards showcase airline safety and blackout prevention

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been recognized again this year by the Federal Laboratory Consortium for their efforts in commercializing PNNL-developed technologies.

Adding to the growing collection of more than 60 FLC awards—more than any other DOE laboratory— PNNL was honored this year with two Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards for the development and commercialization of The Morning Report and the Grid Friendly Appliance™ Controller.

The Morning Report is an aviation safety tool that analyzes massive amounts of aircraft operational data to identify patterns and events that could indicate potential safety concerns during flights. The technology collects aircraft data such as speed, wing angle, equipment status and engine temperature from thousands of flights per day. The information is analyzed using sophisticated statistical algorithms, and the system generates a report for the next morning.

Although the data-intensive programs used by the Morning Report are quite complex, the technology itself is easy to operate with a simple desktop application. Safety inspectors use the report to rapidly pinpoint anomalies, share information with other decision makers and possibly prevent accidents.

The Grid Friendly Appliance™ (GFA) Controller is a unique technology developed to more cost-effectively manage the operation of the nation’s electric power grid and prevent possible blackouts. The GFA, a computer chip measuring 2 x 2.5 inches, can be installed on household appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters and has the ability to turn them off for a few seconds at a time when the frequency of the power grid suddenly drops.

GFAs can be programmed to autonomously react in fractions of a second when a disturbance is detected, allowing the grid to stabilize, then turns the appliances back on automatically. The controllers have been installed on hundreds of clothes dryers and water heaters throughout the Pacific Northwest as part of a yearlong test-bed demonstration project.



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