The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology announced today that it has ended a long-standing program for evaluating energy-related inventions. The Energy-Related Inventions Program assessed new technologies and ideas submitted by businesses and individual inventors. The most promising proposals were recommended for possible financial and other support by the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE now has complete responsibility for these evaluations as part of its new Inventions and Innovations Program.
NIST announced the action in today’s Federal Register.
During its 22 years of service, the NIST ERIP’s multistage evaluation process recommended an average of two to three inventions per month to DOE. In all, the ERIP processed 33,430 requests for evaluations before it stopped taking them on Aug. 2, 1997. Of these, 17,482 were not accepted for evaluation, largely due to inadequate documentation, obvious technical flaws or insufficient relevance to energy. Of the 15,948 evaluated, 14,239 were rejected most often in a first-stage review as lacking competitive advantage. Of the 1,709 remaining proposals, 741 received ERIP endorsement for possible DOE support.
DOE estimates that the over 500 ERIP-recommended inventions that actually received support and reached the marketplace have totaled more than $1 billion in cumulative sales and resulted in energy savings in excess of 1 quad (enough energy to light 10 million homes for a year). These inventions include: a low-cost method to provide solar heating to in-ground or above-ground swimming pools; a steam turbine packing ring that prevents the damage and energy efficiency loss that occurs over time in turbines; a portable ultrasonic inspection system for oil drill tubes; and a laser-based, non-destructive evaluation system for investigating heat exchanger tubing.
DOE’s Inventions and Innovations Program issued a solicitation for the funding of new inventions on May 1, 1998. Information on this solicitation may be obtained by contacting the Office of Industrial Technologies, Information Resource Center, DOE, Mail Stop EE-24, 1000 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20585, (202) 586-2090. Inventors also may wish to access the World Wide Web site at http://www.oit.doe.gov/ and click on "Inventions and Innovations" under the heading "Technology Access."
As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.