Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? (Searching the Web)

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? (Searching the Web)

Article excerpt

Energy Research at DOE: Was it Worth It? Committee on Benefits of DOE R&D in Energy and Fossil Energy; National Research Council; $46 (prepaid) plus $4.50 shipping first copy, from National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution AVe., N. W., Washington, DC 20418; http://www.nap.edu

In a comprehensive review of federal R&D efforts to advance energy-efficient and fossil-fuel technologies, a committee of the National Academies' National Research Council found these programs have yielded significant economic, environmental and national security benefits. Looking back as far as 1978, the report examines 17 R&D programs in energy efficiency and 22 programs in fossil energy funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. These programs yielded economic returns of an estimated $40 billion from an investment of $13 billion.

Three energy-efficiency programs, costing approximately $11 million, produced nearly three-quarters of this benefit. Most significant were advances made in compressors for refrigerators and freezers, energy-efficient fluorescent-lighting components called electronic ballasts, and low-emission, or heat-resistant, window glass. Standards and regulations incorporating efficiencies attainable by these new technologies ensured that the technologies would be adopted nationwide, thus dramatically compounding their impact, says the report.

The committee's study emphasized that DOE research has produced large public benefits that cannot easily be reduced to dollar terms. Large environmental gains were identified chiefly in the fossil energy arena, where two technologies--atmospheric fluidized bed combustion, a cleaner, more thorough method for burning coal, and nitrogen oxides control to reduce emissions--decreased nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere by more than 26 million tons and sulfur dioxide by 2 million tons. …

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