The movement towards a clean energy future demands the hard work and ingenuity of our scientists and engineers – people who spend their days imagining and creating solutions for our most pressing energy needs. As the holiday season approaches, we would like to take the time to recognize some of the top renewable energy inventors of 2012.
The top biofuel inventors of 2012, by a long stretch, are co-inventors Aniket Kale, Milton Sommerfeld, and Qiang Hu of Arizona State University (ASU). This is not surprising, given Professors Milton Sommerfeld and Qiang Hu‘s years of experience researching and optimizing various strains of algae for fuel production, pharmaceuticals, foods, and other applications.
Most of Kale, Sommerfeld, and Hu’s 2012 patents are assigned to Heliae Development, an algae technology company based in Gilbert, AZ. The relationship between ASU and Heliae has lasted over 4 years. In 2008, Heliae signed a technology licensing agreement with ASU, and in return, contributed $3 million towards biofuel R&D at ASU. In 2010, Science Foundation Arizona, ASU, and Heliae partnered to develop a world-class algae R&D center at ASU.
Congratulations again to Kale, Sommerfeld, and Hu for being the top biofuel innovators in 2012! We look forward to hearing more about your algae research in the years to come.
The top solar inventor of 2012 is Bulent Basol. Basol claims his fame from his work on high-efficiency thin film solar cells, in particular, low-cost electrodeposition methods for CIGS solar cells.
Bulent Basol was the founder of SoloPower, a San Jose-based company that researches and produces flexible CIGS solar panels based on Basol’s research. Just this past October, Solopower received a Solar Industry Award from Solar International magazine. Basol was chief technology officer at SoloPower until 2009, before moving on to form EncoreSolar. Another San Jose-based company, EncoreSolar uses Basol’s innovative electrodeposition techniques to produce cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar cells.
Congratulations Bulent Basol on being our top solar inventor and developing new ways to produce low cost solar cells!
In wind power, we have a tie for top US patent grants between two foreign inventors:
Jacob Johannes Nies is an engineer for General Electric, and is based in the city of Zwolle, Netherlands. Most of his inventions relate to improving the mechanics of wind turbine blades to improve their efficiency and reliability. For instance, his most recent US granted patent (US8321062 “Systems and method for operating a wind turbine having active flow control”) addresses the removal of debris from wind turbines, through a combination of computer monitoring systems, air pumps/fans, and robotic cleaning devices.
Numajiri Tomohiro is an engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and is based in Nagasaki, Japan. His work focuses on improving the structure of wind power towers and generators. His latest US granted patent (US8313266 “Construction method and construction apparatus for offshore wind turbine generator”), addresses the adverse ocean conditions of constructing an offshore wind turbine. His patent outlines a crane ship that can grip an offshore wind turbine while doing maintenance work, thereby avoiding alignment issues between a crane and a turbine caused by ocean waves.
Congratulations again to Jacob Nies and Numajiri Tomohiro for being the top wind power inventors of 2012! We hope to see your patents in action soon on the next GE and Mitsubishi wind turbines.
Do you know a cleantech inventor that has done amazing things and should be featured on our blog? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject “Inventor,” with details about your hero inventor. We will let you know within a few days if we will highlight the inventor in our next blog.