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News Release

Number: 03-33
Released: May 6, 2003
Contact: Diane Greenberg, 631 344-2347 or Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056

Brookhaven Lab and National Renewable Energy Laboratory Team Jointly Win Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

UPTON, NY - Toshifumi Sugama of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Keith Gawlik of DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have jointly won a 2003 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. This year, the team will be among 22 recipients of the annual award, which recognizes employees who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring a technology developed by a federal laboratory to a commercial marketplace.

Toshifumi Sugama FLC is a volunteer organization of over 700 federal research laboratories, research centers, and their parent departments and agencies, which work together to promote the rapid movement of federal technology research and development into the mainstream of the U.S. economy. The awards will be conferred at the FLC national meeting, which will be held in Tucson, Arizona, on May 7-8.

Sugama and Gawlik won the award for their development and transfer of a smart, high-performance coating. Their industrial partners, Bob Curran & Sons of Dickenson, Texas, and Ticona Corporation, of Summit, New Jersey, helped in its development. The polyphenylenesulfide (PPS) coating system is particularly suited for use in carbon-steel heat exchanger tubes in geothermal power plants.

Geothermal fluid from the earth’s core is pumped through hundreds of carbon-steel heat-exchanger tubes in geothermal power plants, where the fluid is used for driving electricity-generating turbines. The hot, wet environment can corrode, oxidize and foul carbon-steel heat-exchanger tubes. Also, mineral deposits reduce heat transfer through the tube walls.

The PPS coating system effectively deals with these problems. The innovative coating system shows dramatic improvements in bonding, durability, resistance to wear and abrasion, and service lifetime and cost, compared to competitive coatings. Curran and Sons reports that the coating lasts 20 years or more and can perform about five years before needing substantial maintenance, while competing coatings need maintenance at three- to six-month intervals.

“I am honored to share this award with my colleague, Keith Gawlick,” Sugama said. “We spent several years developing the technology, testing it, and then contacting various firms to market it. I am gratified that it has proven to be commercially successful.”

R&D Magazine named the PPS coating system as one of the top 100 technological achievements of the year in 2002. In addition to protecting heat exchanger tubes in geothermal power plants, it can protect heat exchangers in other settings. It also can be applied to other components, such as metal pipes, pumps and boilers in geothermal and power generation units, as well as chemical, desalination, water treatment and air-conditioning equipment.

Brookhaven and NREL researchers developed the coating system with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Materials Program. The PPS coating system has been commercialized under the trade name CurraLon® by Bob Curran & Sons. Ticona Corporation manufactures the PPS used in the coating.