INL News Release
Nov. 19, 2018

Leslie Wright, 208-526-2926,
Sarah Neumann, 208-526-0490,

Idaho National Laboratory has been honored with four R&D 100 Awards. Sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of Innovation,” R&D Magazine selected these winners from nearly 180 finalists to recognize the top 100 most significant technologies of 2018.

“I often talk about how proud I am of INL’s employees, and the work they do to help resolve our nation’s clean energy and national security challenges,” said INL Laboratory Director Mark Peters. “INL employees winning four R&D 100 awards is more evidence that the Laboratory is conducting high-impact research and development and providing a valuable addition to American competitiveness. My congratulations to the winners.”

Since they were started in 1963, R&D 100 Awards have identified and celebrated the top technology products from the public and private sectors. The awards are selected by an independent panel of judges based on the technical significance, uniqueness, and usefulness of projects and technologies from across industry, government and academia. The U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories typically have dozens of finalists every year; this year, there were 60 finalists from DOE national labs, with 11 coming from INL.

Antenna Coupled THz (ACT) Film

Submitted with Dale Kotter of RedWave Energy Inc. 

Converting waste heat into power represents one of the largest opportunities for bringing greater efficiency and reduced emissions to the energy sector. Using nanorectifying antenna research from INL, RedWave Energy Inc. has developed 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.

Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS)

Todd Vollmer, Craig Rieger, Milos Manic

Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS) is 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.

Phosphate Sponge: Special recognition for Green Technology

Jack Law, Troy Garn and Mitchell Greenhalgh with Steve Hammon of Global Phosphate Solutions

The Phosphate Sponge 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.

On-Site Inspection RadioIsotopic Spectroscopy (OSIRIS): Special recognition for Corporate Social Responsibility

Gus Caffrey, Kenneth Krebs and Jayson Wharton with Brian Milbrath, Glen Warren and Mital Zalavadia of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Nathan Wimer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

OSIRIS (On-Site Inspection RadioIsotopic Spectroscopy) is 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 radioisotopic measurements for on-site inspections. OSIRIS uses a software “data filter” coupled with a powerful spectrometer to focus the display of information it collects on just the 17 fission-product radioisotopes agreed upon by international technical experts to be indicative of nuclear explosions. OSIRIS has been tested extensively for its intended application and has been made commercially available through partnership with ORTEC.

INL is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

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