This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 11, 2011

United States' Clean Energy Patents Soar in 2010: Report

The number of U.S. patents issued in 2010 for clean energy technologies jumped to 1,881, according to the recently released Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. This was a 170% increase over those recorded in 2009. The report, published by the Cleantech Group at Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., noted that the past year showed the largest year-to-year jump since the firm began tracking clean energy patents in 2002. The index surveys filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in technologies including solar power, wind power, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), fuel cells, hydropower, tidal and wave power, geothermal power, and biomass and biofuels. The report noted solar patents were up 134% while hybrid and EVs vehicles increased 60% over the previous year. Patents are seen as an indicator of successful innovation and research.

General Motors claimed first place, overtaking last year's leader Honda by registering 135 patents. The automaker's inventions covered hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cells, and solar power. For example, GM patented a multi-injection combustion cycle system for spark-ignition direct-injection engines to improve fuel and air mixing. General Motors also patented a method of operating a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle heater to preheat the battery, improving electric driving range. GE finished fifth, and Ford Motors took the eighth spot in the annual tally. See the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index releasePDF and the GM press release.