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EL February Highlights

Engineering Laboratory Highlights - February 2012

Programmatic/Technical Accomplishments

NIST Engineering Laboratory Leads Energy Usage Information Standardization Enabling Green Button Implementations

In September 2011, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra challenged utilities across the country to quickly develop a "Green Button" that consumers can use to download detailed energy usage information, in a common, easy-to-use electronic format, through the secure web portals of their utilities or retail energy service providers. By putting energy usage information directly into the hands of consumers, consumers are empowered to more actively manage their energy use and associated costs and benefits.

In response to this challenge, the Engineering Laboratory's Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program and its Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) administrator, EnerNex Corporation and subcontractor Hypertek, Inc., led the rapid development of a standardized "Green Button" electronic file format for energy usage information, in collaboration with three investor-owned California utilities, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the Department of Energy. Additional overview and technical information on the Green Button standardization effort is available at and the NIST SGIP collaboration website

Based on technical contributions and continued support from NIST and its contractors, the California utilities and several vendors were able to develop initial implementations and applications in a short three month time period, with initial public demonstrations and implementations starting in December 2011. On January 18, 2012, Dr. David Wollman of NIST's Engineering Laboratory joined Aneesh Chopra and officials from the three investor-owned California utilities and the Department of Energy in a question and answer session at the "Transforming the Energy Landscape with the Green Button" event in Santa Clara, California marking the initial formal public roll-out of Green Button implementations by the California utilities. Two of California's three largest utilities announced at this event that they launched their Green Button download feature on their websites for use by nearly six million households. Additional utilities in California and across the country that collectively serve an additional 11.3 million households also announced plans to make the Green Button feature available to their customers later this year, representing substantial impact traceable to NIST contributions. 

Contact: david.wollman [at] (David Wollman), (301) 975-2433

Technical Accomplishment

Key Manufacturing Technology furthers Systems Integration

Peter Denno of the Engineering Laboratory provided key enabling technology for the Object Management Group's (OMG) Model Interchange Working Group (MIWG) , a major step in ensuring reliable interchange of engineering models based on OMG technology. The MIWG's work over the past 2 years resolved many impediments to interoperability, resulting in a test suite for tool vendors and users to ensure reliable interchange of models based on the Systems Engineering Modeling Language and Unified Modeling Language (SysML/UML).

Mr. Denno developed the NIST Validator which processes computer-interpretable specifications of those standards and configures itself for assessing conformance. The Validator provides an interface accessible to anyone on the web, for uploading models and immediate analysis. Public release of the MIWG test suite enables vendors and users of tools based on OMG technology to investigate for themselves interoperability concerns they may have with the modeling tools they use or develop.

"The MIWG has demonstrated our OMG standards compliance and directly benefited our customers and partners with improved model interchange for more design flexibility. We are pleased to publish these test results to help organizations assess model interchange."  ReportedAtego, IBM, NoMagic, Sodius (supporting IBM Rhapsody), SOFTEAM, and Sparx Systems.

Systems engineering relies on modeling to validate requirements or evaluate the system, and applies to such industries as automotive, rail, aerospace, military, and energy.  SysML provides a single systems engineering modeling language for heterogeneous teams to communicate more effectively.

More information can be obtained from the NIST Validator Site (

Contact: peter.denno [at] (Peter Denno), 301-975-3595

Industry Invests in Deploying NIST Results to Achieve Interoperability

The Hydraulics Institute (HI) announced the release of a series of webinars and conformance assessment tools for achieving interoperability with the new HI standard, HI 50.7, "Electronic Data Exchange for Pumps and Pump Packages." HI 50.7 is based on the results of the NIST-led Automating Equipment Information Exchange (AEX) project. The AEX project developed the information models, methods and specifications for manufacturers to exchange data required to engineer, manufacture and install engineered equipment. HI standards are widely referenced in other standards such as those of ANSI, API, ASME, AWWA, and ISO. NIST contributed to the development of the webinars and the conformance assessment tools. The webinars explain how to deploy this standard in industry practices and how to use conformity assessment tools to achieve interoperability and advancements in efficiency and productivity.

Contact: mark.palmer [at] (Mark Palmer), 301 975 5858

New Standards for Demand Response in the Smart Grid

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP)—a public-private partnership between NIST and industry (—has successfully advanced Smart Grid demand response standards. EL has been the NIST lead on key standards that enable buildings to participate in demand response, and allow communication of prices, energy usage, and schedules across the building interface to and from the smart grid.

Demand Response (DR) signal communication was one of the priority standards gaps identified in the NIST-led smart grid interoperability effort, as documented in the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards 1.0 ( The Smart Grid now has a suite of three standards covering DR signaling, price and product communication, and schedule communication. A joint effort with input and collaboration between multiple organizations has led to the publication of these standards in the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). NIST staff led in coordination efforts and technical development of the standards.  These standards are available publically, with links available at:, along with information on the NIST process leading up to and approving the work.

Contact: david.holmberg [at] (David Holmberg), EL (30 775 6450)

Impact of NIST Research and Services

ACTA Technology Develops Handheld Blood Meter Based on NIST Micro/Nano Research

Researchers from ACTA Technology (Boulder, CO) are developing a hand-held point-of-care and home-use test for measuring blood coagulation that uses a drop of whole blood taken by a finger prick. Unlike clinical devices currently on the market, which use optical analysis, cantilevers, or chemical reactions, their approach uses micro-electro-mechanical sensors that incorporate a parallel plate to measure the blood clotting time. Based on the micro/nano research done by Nicholas Dagalakis of the NIST Engineering Laboratory, the device tests a small amount of whole blood, making it less intrusive so it can be used at home or in a doctor's office without the need for a laboratory.

The prothrombin time test works by introducing a tissue factor to begin the series of reactions that occur when a blood vessel is ruptured. The clot changes the blood from a free-flowing solution to a gel-like substance and it is this change that the sensor monitors and detects.

Various medical conditions require the use of the anti-coagulant warfarin, a powerful but potentially dangerous drug. Affected patients need their clotting time monitored to ensure proper drug dosing. ACTA's device has been demonstrated to measure the rheometric properties of complex fluids similar to blood in seconds using nanoliter size samples.

Edward Clancy, ACTA's Chief Technical Officer, also credits NIST staff from the CNST NanoFab for his company's ability to rapidly develop prototypes. "We built our entire sensor device in the NanoFab, everything from the mask writing to the ion etching to the deposition of our gold contacts," says Clancy, "Now that we have the processes optimized, we can go to a fabrication shop in the U.S. for mass production." According to Clancy, "a small company cannot do this ourselves, and it is hard to get commercial fabs to produce small quantities for prototyping."

Medicare recently announced expanded coverage for warfarin patients, including monitoring clotting time at home. Thirty million Americans take warfarin, a number that will grow as more people use blood thinners to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Clancy believes that ACTA is well positioned to see its product widely adapted as home blood testing becomes more common.

Contact: nicholas.dagalakis [at] (Nick Dagalakis), (301) 975-5845

Created May 2, 2012, Updated November 21, 2012