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EL Highlights for August 2012

Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment


NIST Factory Equipment Network Testing (FENT) Demonstration is a Success

U.S. manufacturers need real-time production information to monitor and optimize the manufacturing activities in their factories. Currently, this information is typically collected manually from isolated proprietary equipment, a laborious process that takes time and introduces human error. Connecting this equipment to the factory network would make accurate production information immediately available, though widespread interconnection has been inhibited by the lack of common information models and methods to measure performance and conformance. In response to this need, NIST Engineering Laboratory staff developed a measurement science-based performance and conformance testing framework and test tools that measure the effectiveness of protocols and standards for collecting real-time production information from factory floor sensors and equipment. The NIST Factory Equipment Network Testing (FENT) Framework includes software modules and interfaces for testing and analyzing various sensor configurations and communication protocols, including Industrial Ethernet/IP and wireless IEEE 1451.5. EL researchers James Gilsinn, Kang Lee, Fred Proctor, and Eugene Song recently demonstrated this framework for wireless sensors in a distributed network. Wireless sensor networks based on the IEEE 1451.5 (WiFi wireless) sensor standard were placed in laboratories and shop environments across the NIST campus and sensor network performance tests were conducted using various network topology scenarios. Manufacturing equipment in the NIST Shops was instrumented with sensors to enable real-time machine condition monitoring. Sensor performance data was captured throughout the testing for both wired and wireless networks for analysis by the FENT modules. The new capability demonstrated by the NIST team shows the usefulness and flexibility of the FENT Framework for remote testing and analysis of sensor network performance in distributed environments, and will help reduce barriers to optimizing manufacturing activities within a factory. Andrew Mundy from EL System Administration (ELSA) collaborated on development of interfaces to the NIST wired and wireless networks to achieve these results.

Contact: Kang Lee, (301) 975-6604


NIST Roadmap Outlines a Research Plan to Reduce the Risk of Fire in Buildings and Communities

Fire researchers in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Engineering Laboratory believe that the devastating annual toll of fire in buildings and communities can be significantly reduced over the next two decades. Now they have a plan that prioritizes and details the research and other work needed to enable that reduction. Crafted with input from fire service organizations, standards and building-code developers, equipment manufacturers, insurers and others, NIST's newly issued "strategic roadmap"* lays out a clear technological course for reducing the risk of fire in buildings and communities. It calls for attacking the nation's fire problem on three fronts:

  • Reducing fire hazards in buildings,
  • Advancing firefighter technologies, and
  • Reducing the risk of fire in communities bordering forests and "wildlands."

Reflecting NIST's unique technical support role, the new roadmap sets targets for newmeasurement capabilities that underpin innovation in fire-risk-reducing technologies and best practices. These advanced capabilities are required to overcome technical hurdles that stand in the way of nascent or current technologies with the potential to deliver a wide range of fire safety benefits. These range from earlier fire detection and fire-safety improvements in the design and construction of buildings and communities, to better firefighting equipment and tactics, to more effective approaches to preventing and responding to "wildland-urban interface" fires, a rapidly growing national fire problem.

The roadmap sets short, medium and long-term goals for eliminating these gaps and accomplishing the overall objective of reducing the nation's fire burden by a third. The publication is available at

*Fire Research Division, Engineering Laboratory, Reducing the Risk of Fire in Buildings and Communities: A Strategic Roadmap to Guide and Prioritize Research, NIST Special Publication 1130, April 2012.

Contact: Anthony Hamins, (301) 975-6598


Industry Initiates Project to work with NIST on Harmonization of Interoperability Standards

Fiatech, an industry consortium, launched a new project, "Harmonizing Industry Standards to Exchange Equipment Data" (HEED) to advance the use of electronic data exchange (EDE) and new capabilities for performance and margin management of equipment included in mechanical systems. This project will work with the Collaborative Requirements Engineering (CRE) project of the SIMCA program to develop and demonstrate new methods and tools that enable interoperability and model-based systems engineering.  NIST is providing technical leadership and developing test models that will be used by this industry project. 

Contact:  Mark Palmer, (301) 975-5858

Additive Manufacturing Test Artifact Revealed

At the 23rd Annual Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium held in Austin, TX on August 6-8, EL researchers Shawn Moylan and April Cooke unveiled a NIST-designed test artifact for additive manufacturing machines and processes. Shawn presented the paper "Proposal for a Standardized Test Artifact for Additive Manufacturing Machines and Processes," describing the test artifact and its carefully-designed features that indicate a variety of additive manufacturing (AM) system capabilities and performance. The artifact will both help potential users to better understand AM system capabilities, and also provide a common benchmark for AM equipment suppliers seeking to improve the performance of their products. The symposium was attended by approximately 150 people in the additive manufacturing community, including many members of the ASTM F42 committee on Additive Manufacturing Technologies. The test artifact is ultimately intended for standardization through ASTM F42, but a preliminary step is for U.S. companies and additive manufacturing experts to build the proposed test artifact on their systems and to offer feedback on the performance of their systems, as well as, improvements to the artifact. The test artifact along with supporting documentation and an inspection worksheet was sent to several companies and institutions, including Harvest Technologies, ExOne, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, General Electric Aviation, and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Contacts: Shawn Moylan, (301) 975-4352, and April Cooke, (301) 975-3850


Smart Grid Workshop Identifies Technology and Measurement Priorities

The NIST Engineering Laboratory co-organized an invitational workshop with the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), in Boulder, Colorado, on August 13 & 14, 2012.  RASEI is a joint project of the University of Colorado and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  The purpose of the workshop was seek consensus on identification of technological and metrology impediments to the successful development and deployment of the emerging cyber-physical electric power grid, often referred to as the smart grid, and then to prioritize research needed to overcome these impediments.  The workshop was co-chaired by leaders in the smart grid community: John McDonald, Director of Technical Strategy and Policy Development at General Electric Digital Energy, and Mark McGranaghan, Vice President of Power Delivery and Utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute. There were approximately 80 participants from industry, academia, and government laboratories, and an additional fifteen NIST and RASEI personnel.  By design, NIST and RASEI personnel served primarily as observers, so that the workshop would be able to develop a strong imprimatur from industry.  Exceptions to this rule were NIST Smart Grid Program Director and National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability Dr. George Arnold, EL Director Dr. Shyam Sunder, RASEI Director Michael Knotek, and University of Colorado faculty member Kevin Doran, all of whom gave plenary talks.  The NIST Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office led the planning of the workshop, with assistance from the NIST Standards Coordination Office.

All workshop participants were assigned to one of four topical working groups: (i) integration of renewables onto the grid, (ii) integration of distributed generation and energy storage, (iii) energy efficiency, demand response, and load control, and (iv) efficiency, reliability, security, and stability of the grid.  Within their respective areas, each working group addressed the questions of present status, aspirational goals, major technological and other challenges, and prioritization of research and measurement science needed for the smart grid.   

Key outcomes from the workshop will be a technical report of the workshop's findings (Nov 2012), and a high-level opportunities document (Jan 2013) to help NIST and other organizations focus on the most important research challenges. Both are expected to be used by a broad range of industry planners and researchers in the smart grid arena.

Contacts: Jeffrey Mazer, (301) 975-2617 and Cuong Nguyen, (301) 975-2254



EL Contributes to National Additive Manufacturing Symposium

The National Additive Manufacturing (AM) Symposium was held on August 20 at the White House Conference Center. The Symposium was sponsored by the Science and Technology Division (Office of Intelligence) of the Department of Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This event brought together roughly 50 national leaders engaged in the policy, science, and technology of additive manufacturing. Specific goals of the Symposium included: (1) to engage policy and research leaders in a dialogue on the potential of AM as a future disruptive technology; (2) to create a working group for dialogue and monitoring of AM research and policy issues; (3) to produce a report with recommendations on future actions to facilitate more widespread national adoption of AM; and (4) to start towards a larger summit in winter of 2013 that will involve major national AM players, as well as select international players. Tom Kurfess, Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), served as facilitator for the event. EL researcher John Slotwinski served on the Organizing Committee for the Symposium, and also gave an invited presentation "Additive Manufacturing in DOC" that highlighted current DOC and NIST efforts in additive manufacturing. Other speakers included Steve Black (Deputy Director for Intelligence and Counterintelligence – DOC), Joseph Beaman (University of Texas, Austin), Robert Ivester (Acting Deputy Program Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Office, DOE), Jennifer Fielding (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – DOD), and Terry Wohlers (Wohlers Associates). Planning for the subsequent winter 2013 Additive Manufacturing Summit is already underway. 

Contact: John Slotwinski, (301) 975-2171


EL's Harrison Skye receives Homer Addams Award

Dr. Harrison Skye of the EL's HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group received the Homer Addams Award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The awardee of the Homer Addams Award is selected from current or former graduate students who were engaged in an ASHRAE-sponsored research project in the past two years.  The Award acknowledges a student who has produced relevant high quality work and ASHRAE publications during the research project, and who has the potential for significant contribution to ASHRAE in the future.  Dr. Skye was recognized for the research he performed as a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, which involved selecting optimal blends of refrigerants for use in a cryosurgical probe system.  He used modeling and experimental techniques to identify key design parameters for the system, and to characterize the impact of transport phenomena on optimal mixture composition. The presentation took place during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer ASHRAE Conference in San Antonio, TX. 

Contact: P. Domanski, (301) 975-5877

Fire Modeling Software Receives Sjӧlin Award

The Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) development team including current staff members Kevin McGrattan, Glenn Forney, Randy McDermott, and former staff members, emeritus scientist Howard Baum and guest scientist Ron Rehm, were selected to receive the Sjӧlin Award for 2012 by the International Forum of Fire Research Directors.  The award recognizes an outstanding contribution to fire science or an advance in the state of the art in fire safety engineering practice of extraordinary significance. The FDS team was recognized for its outstanding contributions over the years to the advancement of computational fire engineering around the world. The 2012 Sjӧlin Award will be presented at the next symposium of the International Association of Fire Safety Science to be held in New Zealand in 2014.

Contact: Kevin McGrattan, (301) 975-2712

Fred Proctor Recognized by American Society of Mechanical Engineers

EL researcher Fred Proctor received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Computers and Information in Engineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in recognition of his distinguished service as Chair of the division. This award was presented at the 32nd Computers and Information in Engineering Conference held in Chicago, IL on August 12-15, as part of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences.

Contact: Fred Proctor, (301) 975-3425