Book:The Laboratories of Our Lives: Labs, Labs Everywhere!/Labs by industry: Part 2/Energy

From LIMSWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
-----Return to the beginning of this guide-----

4.3 Energy

Pomiary rezystancji uzwojenia transformatora z rdzeniem amorficznym miernikiem Sonel MMR-6000.jpg

The energy laboratory is largely a place for the research and development of energy sources and devices, though it also is a place for researchers to focus on improving energy efficiency in current fuels, systems, and structures. These labs are found in the government and academic sectors, and occasionally in the private sector, providing many different services, including (but not limited to)[1]:

  • chemical and biomolecular engineering
  • applied research and development
  • analysis and improvement of energy efficiency
  • analysis and improvement of transportation systems
  • development of energy systems
  • discovery and development of materials
  • integration of energy systems

But how do energy laboratories intersect the average person's life on a daily basis?

"I want my phone's battery to last longer!" you shout, as you put it on the charger for the second time in a day. The truth is your device probably has a better battery life than the generation before it, and the generation before it, etc., but you're at the same time making it do more demanding tasks than it used to at the same time. Yet advances continue to be made in energy storage.[2] You can thank an energy laboratory and its scientists for that and similar advances that affect you on a daily basis.

4.3.1 Client types

Private - Private laboratories tend to focus on a company's R&D or provide third-party analysis of materials used as fuel sources.

Examples include:

Government - Along with academic labs, government labs (public and public-private) make up the majority of energy laboratories and typically provide much of the funding for energy research, at least in the United States.[3]

Examples include:

Academic - Higher education continues to be a major source for the study, research, and application of energy sources and equipment. From the optimization of commercial and industrial buildings to alternative fuels and clean energy systems, the academic-affiliated energy lab is pushing energy science forward at a significant pace.

Examples include:

4.3.2 Functions

What are the most common functions? analytical, QA/QC, research/design, and teaching

What materials, technologies, and/or aspects are being calibrated, researched, and quality controlled? biomass, emissions, energy efficiency, energy storage and retrieval, hydropower, nuclear energy, petrochemicals, solar energy, thermal energy, thin films, wind power

What sciences are being applied in these labs? chemical engineering, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, material science, mechanical engineering, microbiology, nuclear physics, physics, thermodynamics

What are some examples of test types and equipment?

Common test types include:

Accelerated stress testing, Aging, Calorimetry, Characterization, Climatics, Combustion, Contact mechanics, Contamination, Degredation, Design verification testing, Dielectric withstand, Durability, Efficiency, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electromagnetic interference, Electrostatic discharge, Emissions, Endurance, Flash point, Fluid dynamics, Friction, Geothermal, Hydraulic, Lightning, Mechanical, Mechanical durability, Power quality, Proficiency, Resistance - capacitance - inductance, Solar, Temperature, Thermal, Torque, Validation, Velocity and flow, Voltage

Industry-related lab equipment may include:

calorimeter, climate test chamber, gas turbine, geothermal energy absorber, hydrogen fuel cell, impulse turbine, light sensor, photovoltaic trainer/system, plasma light system, porosimeter, reaction turbine, solar thermal system, temperature sensor, viscometer, wind turbine

What else, if anything, is unique about the labs in the energy industry?

By and far, energy laboratories seem to have the most prominent footprint in the government and academic sectors. One of the largest footprints in the U.S. government sector is that of the Department of Energy (DoE) National Laboratories. The DoE's 2020 report on the state of the National Laboratories revealed a network of 17 laboratories with more than 95,000 staff and contractor employees addressing energy technologies, unique research programs, fundamental science discoveries, nuclear security, and environmental management issues.[4]

Privately run energy laboratories exist but appear to be the minority, appearing as either R&D labs inside a larger manufacturing company or as niche third-party testing facilities for biomass and/or petrochemicals. As an aside, since agriculture and forest biomass[5], as well as petrochemicals, can be used as fuel sources, the energy industry has ties to the agriculture, forestry, and petrochemical industries. Of course, the power and utility industry—which focuses on large-scale energy solutions for communities—is closely linked as well.

4.3.3 Informatics in the energy industry

When it comes to informatics in the energy industry, we have direct crossover with the power and utility industry, discussed later in this guide. On one hand, energy R&D drives the development of power sources and storage systems both big (e.g., hydroelectric) and small (e.g., iPhone battery); the power and utility companies, on the other, use a significant chunk of R&D to develop and install infrastructure for the distribution of energy. Those companies are monitoring their distribution grids with smart meters, representing millions of data points to collect and analyze from.[6] This "smart grid" analysis can than lead to developing "automated predictions, optimizing the performance of grid devices, and charting energy usage trends."[7] That grid optimization and its associated data is in return applicable to the energy industry to better improve energy efficiencies and better integrate the renewable energy sources they're developing.[8] In some cases, government-affiliated labs have direct involvement with energy informatics. The United States' Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, attempts to not only solve carbon capture and storage issues for power and utility but also develops energy flow charts using data captured from various points in the energy chain.[9]

4.3.4 LIMSwiki resources and further reading

LIMSwiki resources

Further reading


  1. "Research". National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. Retrieved 28 June 2022. 
  2. Argonne National Laboratory (31 March 2016). "Researchers continue to pave way for improved battery performance testing". Science X. Retrieved 28 June 2022. 
  3. Kotok, A. (14 July 2006). "Financing Your Research in Alternative Energy". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 28 June 2022. 
  4. "The State of the DOE National Laboratories - 2020 Edition" (PDF). U.S. Department of Energy. 2020. Retrieved 06 July 2022. 
  5. "Forest Biorefinery - Introduction". Forest Products Laboratory. U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 28 June 2022. 
  6. "Big Data - Challenges and Opportunities for the Energy Industry". SunGard Data Systems, Inc. 2013. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  7. Fehrenbacher, K. (24 May 2016). "There's Big Money in Energy Big Data". Fortune. Time, Inc. Retrieved 29 June 2022. 
  8. Goebel, C.; Jacobsen, H.-A.; del Razo, V. et al. (2014). "Energy Informatics: Current and Future Research Directions". Business & Information Systems Engineering 6 (1): 25–31. doi:10.1007/s12599-013-0304-2. 
  9. "Energy Informatics". Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2022.