Patent Activity Surges at National Renewable Energy Lab
WASHINGTON — The number of patents received by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory surged last year, with the lab receiving a total of 57 during the just concluded 2022 fiscal year, 10 more than awarded in 2021.
In addition, the NREL Technology Transfer Office counted 133 records of invention in FY ’22, filed for 176 patent applications both in the United States and internationally, and obtained Department of Energy permission to assert copyright to 78 software packages, which included the release of 58 instances of open-source software.
More information on these breakthroughs can be found in the blog post here.
Among the items awarded patents were an offshore wind platform called a “flexible aquatic substructure” that helped floating offshore wind turbines better survive rough seas; a method of converting woody biomass to oil and such carbon-rich coproducts as graphite; a method of using high-quality superheated sand to heat buildings; and technology that allows for greater control of devices plugged in or hard-wired into buildings.
“Protecting intellectual property this way enables us to make it available for licensing, which in turn enables companies to introduce products so that NREL innovations have an impact,” said Anne Miller, director of NREL’s Technology Transfer Office, in the piece.
She told the authors the laboratory files an average of about 170 patent applications annually and releases roughly 48 open-source software titles.
The process to protect innovations as intellectual property begins with researchers submitting records of invention and software records.
“It’s excellent that NREL has a tech transfer office that supports our technology development, that will help us through the patenting process,” said Kim Trenbath, the innovation lead for systems technology R&D in the laboratory’s Building Technologies and Science Center, in the same article.
“Because if we were not working at NREL, and we were kind of working on our own, it would be a lot more challenging for us. They made it very streamlined,” Trenbath added.