Public Release: 

Fish, FRAMES and sticky chemicals net technology award for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Three environmental technologies developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have earned a Technology Merit Award for the laboratory in the annual Business Achievement Awards competition sponsored by the Environmental Business Journal.

The technologies recognized for innovation and "performance in challenging times" are FRAMES, a software system for understanding the effect of industrial activities on people and the environment; a testing chamber that identifies how hard-to-measure chemicals change in the environment; and a test bed for developing fish friendly designs for roadway culverts.

Speeding up risk assessment: FRAMES The Framework for Risk Analysis Multimedia Environmental Systems (FRAMES) is an environmental systems analysis tool that enables regulators and environmental cleanup specialists to assess risk from pollutants in days or weeks, instead of months or years.

FRAMES allows users to integrate an array of commercial or custom-built knowledge, data and simulation models and databases. The result is a highly tailored visualization of each risk scenario. The intuitive operation of FRAMES saves time and expense because no specialized programming knowledge is needed, and little reconfiguration is required to incorporate a model.

FRAMES users include the U.S. Army, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as industry and universities.

Slick technology nabs sticky chemicals: chemical testing chamber

Identifying how chemicals change in the environment became easier and more accurate with the development of the PNNL chemical testing chamber, a new tool for understanding hard-to-measure chemical emissions.

The chamber is the first system to precisely measure semi-volatiles, very sticky chemicals that remain in the environment for weeks to months after release. Semi-volatiles are key ingredients in pesticides and herbicides and can be signatures of illegal chemical or nuclear weapons production.

With heated equipment and clear Teflon sheet walls, the chamber is so nonstick that users can identify semi-volatile, volatile and particulate chemicals; understand their life cycles; and determine likely sources. Special containers enable the chamber to receive samples from remote locations.

Scientific assistance for juvenile salmon: culvert test bed

Roadway culverts present a major obstacle to juvenile salmon trying to reach prime habitat. To find more fish friendly designs, the Washington State Department of Transportation, representing a consortium of West Coast transportation agencies, engaged PNNL to create a full-scale culvert test bed at a hatchery in southwestern Washington.

The one-of-a-kind facility is providing scientifically sound information for use in improving designs for new and retrofitted culverts in the Northwest and elsewhere. Test bed experiments measure water conditions under hundreds of slope and flow situations, and quickly relate these measures to fish-passage success at all life stages.

According to U.S. Representative Norm Dicks, "Decisions made based on research at this facility will benefit us for decades to come."

PNNL will receive the technology award at the Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego in March. The event is sponsored by Environmental Business International, publisher of the journal and provider of news, research reports and consulting services worldwide.


Business inquiries on environmental or other areas of research at PNNL should be directed to 888-375-PNNL or

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science facility that is discovering new knowledge through fundamental research and providing science-based solutions to some of the nation's most pressing challenges in national security, energy and environmental quality. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, operates PNNL for the federal government.

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