4th Research Award of the Energy Technology Division of the Electrochemical Society

Dr. Al Czanderna, NREL

Dr. Al Czanderna, a research fellow and internationally recognized surface scientist in the NCPV, has been selected to receive the 4th Research Award of the Energy Technology Division (ETD) of the Electrochemical Society (ECS).  This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the science and technology of energy-related research areas that include scientific and technological aspects of fossil fuels and alternative energy sources, energy management and environmental consequences of energy utilization.

The Research Award, consisting of a scroll and $1,500, will be presented to Dr. Czanderna at the luncheon business meeting of the ETD during the Spring ECS meeting in Seattle, WA.  Dr. Czanderna will deliver the keynote presentation at 2 p.m. on May 5, 1999.  The Electrochemical Society, founded in 1902, is an international nonprofit, educational, organization concerned with a broad range of phenomena relating to electrochemical and solid state science and technology.  The Society has more than 7,000 scientists and engineers in over 75 countries worldwide, who hold individual membership, as well as roughly 100 corporations and laboratories that hold contributing membership. 

In his nearly 21 years at NREL, Czanderna (in chronological order) led team efforts for (1) using accelerated life testing methods for rank-ordering candidate solar mirrors, PV cells and minimodules, and electrochromic devices, (2) understanding degradation mechanisms of silver-glass mirrors and metal/oxide interfaces, (3) establishing the direction for improving the stability of silvered polymers for reflector applications - a continuing task since 1983, (4) identifying cationic and anionic polymers as water-sorbing desiccants for solar cooling applications, (5) establishing a new subfield of surface science dealing with interactions and reactions at metal/organic self-assembled monolayer interfaces, (6) coleading two workshops (1980 and 1991) about the crucial role of understanding interfaces that limit the stability of multilayered solar-related devices, (7) studying the durability of electrochromic devices for potential buildings applications, and (8) advocating and implementing efforts for developing a service life time prediction methodology that can be used for PV cells, encapsulated PV cells and minimodules, mirrors in the CSP program, electrochromic windows, coated LoE windows, flat plate collectors, etc.

His contributions also include addressing the (surface) soiling problem with wind turbines, encapsulation of high temperature superconducting thin films, surface analysis of biological membranes, and surface analysis of heteorogeneous catalysts. Dr. Czanderna and his coworkers have about 250 publications including 25 SERI/NREL reports.  For his research contributions, the New York Academy of Sciences (1972), the American Physical Society (1975), SERI (1983), and the American Vacuum Society (1995) have recognized Czanderna as a Fellow.

The excerpts are:
Dr. A. W. Czanderna has demonstrated research excellence in energy-related research since 1976, or 2 years before he joined The Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), which became the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 1991.  Prior to 1978, the candidate had been recognized nationally and internationally for his research in fundamental surface science, applied surface science, and thin films through his elegant studies of the oxygen adsorption and other gases on silver and the oxidation of copper films to CuO0.67........

From 1983 through 1992, he led the effort for identifying cationic and anionic polymers, which have desirable properties for sorbing water vapor, for desiccant cooling applications (14 publications).  Several of the polymers he identified are now being used in commercial desiccant systems......

Beginning in 1989 and through August 1998, his service to NREL has roughly been divided among studying the stability/durability of photovoltaic (PV) module materials and encapsulated minimodules (50%), electrochromic window (ECW) durability (25%), interactions at metal/organic self-assembled monolayer interfaces (15%), and as a group leader or team leader (overhead, 10%).  In the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV), he is currently the RSL team leader for nine scientists involved in reliability and service lifetime prediction R&D of multilayer solar devices, specifically electrochromic windows, PV cells and minimodules, and reflectors in the CSP program.

By combining all DOE-funded RSL efforts in the NCPV, team efficiencies and synergism about problems that cross programmatic lines are effected, a concept he championed during NREL's reorganization in 1995.  As team leader, he individually employs his breadth of knowledge in a several technical fields that include accelerated life testing, materials science, polymer science, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, electrochemical science, corrosion science, physics, materials engineering, and adhesion science as well as surface science. For the PV task, he used his leadership to focus the effort (2.5 FTE/yr) on understanding the causes of the photothermal degradation of the encapsulating polymer pottant, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA).  His team has achieved the desired results that are embodied in about 35 publications by Czanderna or Dr. F. J. Pern, or both......

In 1987, he began advocating that SERI develop an effort for the service lifetime prediction (SLP) for solar energy conversion devices.  His advocacy was raised several notches in 1991 through a Surface Processing Workshop; tangible work was begun in 1993 with G. Jorgensen for a $450 K two-year funded NREL Director's Development Fund effort for developing a SLP methodology.  A center of excellence in SLP was proposed to the NREL Director and his organizational realignment team in September 1995; Czanderna became the team leader for Reliability and Service Lifetime in May 1996, shortly after the Center for Performance Engineering and Reliability was formed.

Crucial to the conservation of energy for air conditioning buildings, electrochromic windows (ECWs) have the potential of saving several quads of power annually.  Dr. Czanderna is currently leading the task at NREL for testing the durability of electrochromic windows and increasing their service lifetime.  His reputation at DOE for durability R & D with silvered solar mirrors, which included a detailed understanding of the mechanisms of  their degradation and a patent for their improvement, enabled NREL to retain a small ECW program in 1988.  He immediately established an identity for NREL through a joint publication with C. Lampert of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory dealing with the performance and evaluation criteria for establishing the durability of ECWs, and with an experimental approach for identifying the causes of degradation.

From 1991 to date, part of his ECW efforts have been devoted to serving on ASTM and National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) durability committees with the focus on windows.   He currently serves as Chairman of Task Group in ASTM entitled "Durability of Chromogenic Glazings," (E06.22.07).  Before June 1996, NREL only had eight complete ECWs for durability studies, so NREL has not had sufficient opportunity to understand most of the parameters for establishing ECW durability.   Yet, in October 1996, in a manner similar to a seminal talk he gave in 1990 about the complexity of PV module reliability, Czanderna established an international recognition for NREL with an invited talk at a durability forum that he organized at the second international meeting on electrochromism; the talk summarized what is and is not known about establishing the durability and service lifetime of ECWs.   He is now interacting with several international research groups about ECW durability.   Because the past priorities for using the available ECW resources has had to be for the accelerated testing of industrially produced ECWs, interface degradation in ECWs, which will surely limit their service lifetime, is planned for future studies.