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EL Highlights June 2012

EL Highlights for June 2012

Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment

NIST Champions Change to International Standardization on Vocabularies for Model-Based Engineering

Engineering Laboratory (EL) staff led the U.S. industry review, comment, and ballot on the draft International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specification for the development and validation of reference vocabularies for engineering complex systems and process plants (ISO 15926-6). This review identified significant problems in the draft standard and developed recommendations for delivering reference vocabularies for systems integration standards.  Mark Palmer of the Engineering Laboratory, presented these ballot results and the NIST recommendations for validation and compliance assessment at the June 2012 meeting of ISO TC 184/SC4, the ISO Technical Committee for Automation systems and integration/Subcommittee on Industrial data. The ISO project and committee responsible for this work adopted these recommendations and those from the U.S. ballot. 

NIST's technical assessment and leadership at this juncture in the standardization process provided the catalyst to focus U.S. industry efforts and this ISO effort to deliver a logically consistent and tested standard that is sufficient to determine software implementations' conformance and to achieve "plug and play" interoperability.   Proven methods, metrics and tools for developing and using "reference vocabularies" are foundational for U.S. industry to migrate to model-based engineering.

Contact: Mark Palmer, (301) 975-5858

Category: Technical Accomplishment

NIST Research Supports Safety Alert Warning of Thermal Degradation of Facepiece Lens Used by Fire Fighters

During the investigation of fire fighter fatalities that occurred from 2002 to 2011, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found evidence of thermal degradation or melting of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lenses, which may have been a contributing factor in multiple fatalities.  The SCBA, which supplies clean breathing air to a fire fighter, is a critical component in the personal protective equipment used by today's fire service.   NIOSH's findings were communicated to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Respiratory Equipment, which enlisted the aid of the NIST Engineering Lab's Fire Fighting Technology Group to characterize the performance of SCBA facepiece lenses.

In 2010, NIST, NIOSH, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, and NFPA jointly hosted a research planning workshop[1] on evaluating and addressing the concerns regarding the thermal performance of SCBA facepiece lenses.   Follow-up NIST research, including field and lab experiments verified the thermal degradation of facepiece lenses under extreme thermal conditions.[2]  The NIST research team, which included Nelson Bryner, Anthony Putorti, Roy McLane, Amy Mensch, and George Braga, developed additional test methodology and performance criteria for the NFPA Technical Committee. 

Based on the NIST results, the committee upgraded the convective heat and flame test to higher temperatures for the whole SCBA and incorporated an additional radiant heat test specifically for the lens.   These new tests are included in the latest proposed revision of NFPA 1981 Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Responders, 2013 Edition.

The new tests and performance metrics for SCBA lenses will improve the performance of personal protective equipment and will enable fire fighters to gain an increased ability to survive in extreme conditions. 

On July 2, 2012, an alert notice was released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to the 1.3 million fire fighters in the U.S., warning that exposure to high temperature environments can result in the thermal degradation or melting of  the SCBA facepiece lenses, resulting in  exposure of the fire fighters to high temperature smoke and toxic gases.

Contact: Anthony Putorti, (301) 975-8615

Category: Technical Accomplishment


EL Scientist Gave Keynote at the European Union Smart Grid Coordination Group International Plenary Conference

George Arnold, Director of the Engineering Laboratory's Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office, presented an invited keynote talk and participated in the European Union Smart Grid Coordination Group (EU SG-CG) International Plenary conference held at the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on June 18-19, 2012. This was a two- day conference hosted by CEN and CENELEC to share the status of the EU's smart grid standardization effort with international partners.  Both NIST and the SG-CG have mandates to coordinate the development of a standards framework for Smart Grids, which can unlock innovation in the electrical sector. The EU SG-CG is responding to a mandate from the European Commission to publish a European smart grid standards framework by the end of 2012. For the Federal government, NIST has the "primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems..." under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA).

NIST and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) have established collaborations with the EU SG-CG.  NIST and SG-CG jointly published a White Paper on Standardization of Smart Grids that is available at: The EU effort has drawn extensively on the NIST/SGIP work – it has four working groups which are developing a reference architecture, identifying a first set of standards, defining a sustainable process for further work, and cybersecurity strategy.

This cooperation between the EU and the U.S. in developing standards for the smart grid is beneficial for U.S. manufacturers as Europe represents a large market for smart grid devices and systems and common standards will benefit U.S. suppliers in addressing this opportunity.  Cooperation also allows U.S. utilities to benefit from Europe's greater experience in managing grids with large penetration of distributed and renewable energy. 

Contact: George Arnold, (301) 975-2232

Category: Interactions

NIST-Organized Workshop Focuses on Measurement Needs of MEMS/NEMS Industry

NIST researchers Jason Gorman (EL), Michael Gaitan (PML), and Robert Cook (MML) co-organized the Frontiers in Characterization and Metrology for Micro- and Nanosystems Workshop, held on June 3, 2012 in South Carolina. The program included 8 presentations on subjects including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) reliability, material characterization, wafer-level device testing, and the characterization and calibration of packaged MEMS. There were 58 attendees from 18 companies, 3 national laboratories, and 15 universities. In particular, representatives from many of the largest U.S. MEMS manufacturers were present, including Alcatel-Lucent, Analog Devices, Freescale Semiconductor, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm. A number of measurement challenges were identified at this meeting and in subsequent discussions, which are currently being documented in a workshop report. Some of these challenges include high-throughput functional testing of MEMS/NEMS at the wafer level, measuring the effect that packaging has on device performance, lifetime testing of MEMS with mechanical contacts, and dimensional metrology of high aspect ratio MEMS structures. The report will be distributed to all of the attendees for comment and will be released in early FY13.

Contact: Jason Gorman, (301) 975-3446

Category: Interactions

EL Collaborates with UL and FDNY to Examine Firefighting Ventilation and Suppression Tactics

The Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) invited researchers from the Engineering Laboratory at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to assist them in developing and conducting experiments designed to examine current firefighting tactics, as well as, alternate methods and tools.  The ultimate objective of the experiments was to increase fire fighter safety and effectiveness. 

The experiments were conducted during the first two weeks of July 2012 in abandoned Coast Guard row houses built in the 1980s on Governors Island in New York Harbor.  Eight researchers from NIST teamed with researchers from UL for nearly three weeks preparing and conducting the experiments.  FDNY provided the project oversight and crews of firefighters extinguish the fires.  Hundreds of firefighters participated during the course of the testing. 

The experiments were conducted in townhouses, each of similar design and construction, wood-framed with brick exteriors.  Each townhouse was supplied with the same package of sofas, chairs, beds, and other furnishings and outfitted with about 100 sensors to measure temperatures, gas flows, concentrations of toxic gases and other variables. Cameras were installed inside each house, as well as outside (front and back), to monitor and record conditions.

Firefighters across the country have concerns regarding changes in their "working conditions" in residential fires due to changes associated with the contents or "fuel load" in homes over the past several decades.  As a result, interior house fires tend to burn faster and hotter today.  Hence, new tactics are needed.  Information gathered and lessons learned from the 20 Governors Island experiments will be shared with fire departments throughout the nation. In addition, NIST will use the data to improve the accuracy and improve the capabilities of its widely used fire modeling software, the Fire Dynamics Simulator/Smokeview.

The media covered the experiments with articles appearing in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.  The Associated Press and Reuters also picked up the story.  National news programs including the NBC Nightly News and the CBS Morning Show aired segments on the experiments. 

Contact: Daniel Madrzykowski, (301) 975-6677

Category: Interactions

NIST Hosts CTO Roundtable on Cyber-Physical Systems

NIST convened a CTO Roundtable on Cyber-Physical Systems in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 2012 to explore the strategic vision, compelling business and mission drivers, and collaboration opportunities for CPS research and development. Cyber-physical systems, or CPS, are hybrid networked cyber and engineered physical elements that are co-designed and co-engineered to create adaptive and predictive systems for enhanced performance. They create an opportunity for significant impact in a wide range of industry domains, and also potentially disruptive challenges for NIST and other federal agencies. NIST Director Pat Gallagher hosted the meeting, and approximately 30 industry, government agency, and academic leaders contributed to the discussions. The Roundtable built upon a successful March 2012 workshop on Foundations for Innovation in Cyber-Physical Systems, which identified R&D needs limiting innovation and U.S. competitiveness in CPS. During the Roundtable, three panel sessions covered the perspectives of user industries such as aerospace and medical systems, technology and service providers such as software tool vendors, and academia and government agencies. Common themes of discussion included the strategic need for more rapid, predictable, and cost-effective development of cyber-physical systems, as well as the importance of ensuring the performance, safety, security, reliability, and robustness of CPS over all phases of the system life cycle. A summary report will be produced to document the discussions and conclusions of the Roundtable, articulating the high-level strategic national needs for CPS R&D. The report is expected to be available in late summer 2012.

Contact: Shyam Sunder, (301) 975-5900

Category: Interactions

EL conducts Workshop for Fire-Structure Interaction and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)/Urban Fires Operation Tomodachi: Fire Research

The 2nd Japan-USA workshop on Fire-Structure Interaction and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)/Urban Fires was held in Tokyo, Japan from July 1 to July 4, 2012.  The workshop was known as "Operation Tomodachi - Fire Research".  Tomodachi means friendship in Japanese.  This workshop, led by Dr. Samuel L. Manzello of EL-NIST and Dr.Tokiyoshi Yamada of the University of Tokyo, and was conducted in partnership with the Japan Association of Fire Science and Engineering (JAFSE).  The workshop opened a dialogue for new research collaboration between Japan and the USA in an effort to develop scientifically based building codes and standards that will be of use to both countries to reduce the devastation caused by unwanted fires. The Workshop was a continuation of the kickoff meeting held at NIST's Engineering Laboratory in June 2011. EL presented NIST's new National Fire Research Laboratory (NFRL) and an overview on WUI fire research. A follow-on workshop at EL-NIST is planned for 2014.

Contact:  Samuel Manzello, (301) 975-6891

Category: Interactions


EL's Daniel Madrzykowski Receives the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Leadership and Management

On July 14, the International Fire Service Journal of Leadership and Management Research Symposium in Tulsa, OK awarded Daniel Madrzykowski, Leader of EL's Firefighting Technology Group, the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Leadership and Management.  The recognition goes to a person who has advanced the science of fire leadership and management through their research.  For many years Dan has been applying his knowledge of fire dynamics and NIST research results to aid the fire service to develop a working knowledge of fire behavior in structure fires.  Dan has been active assisting in the development of fire dynamics classes at the National Fire Academy, collaborating with fire science text book developers, providing insight into the root causes of firefighter line of duty deaths, dissemination of research findings to fire service groups across the county, and conducting research and training programs with several of the largest fire departments in the United States. 

Contact: Daniel Madrzykowski, (301) 975-6677

Category: Recognition

EL Researchers Receive ASHRAE Technical Paper Award

William Healy, Tania Ullah, and John Roller of EL's Energy and Environment Division were selected to receive a Technical Paper Award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for their paper entitled "Input-Output Approach to Predicting the Energy Efficiency of Residential Water Heaters – Testing of Gas Tankless and Electric Storage Water Heaters."  The manuscript was selected among papers published in the journal ASHRAE Transactions during 2011, and the award was presented at the plenary session of the ASHRAE Conference held on June 23, 2012 in San Antonio. TX.  The paper discussed experiments and analysis conducted to find better ways to rate the energy efficiency of residential water heaters.  As a result of the findings, the ASHRAE committee devising changes to the test method has chosen to pursue a test in which the usage of a water heater over a 24-hour period is simulated via a series of draws of hot water from the appliance, and the energy used and delivered during that period is used to estimate its efficiency. This satisfies a water heater community need by providing a repeatable test method that can be used to test efficiency of water heaters. 

Contact:  William Healy, (301) 975-4922

Category: Recognition





[1]. Bryner N. and Mensch A., "Emergency First Responder Respirator Thermal Characteristics: Workshop Proceedings," Workshop held in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2010, NIST Special Publication 1123, Gaithersburg MD, June 2011.

[2]. Mensch, A., Braga, G., and Bryner, N., "Fire Exposures of Fire Fighter Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Facepiece Lenses," NIST Technical Note 1724, Gaithersburg, MD, November 2011.

Created October 1, 2012, Updated November 21, 2012