Energy Department Invests $14 Million in Innovative Building …

The Energy Department today announced up to $14 million in funding for 15 research and development projects to support technologies that will contribute to advancing early-stage, breakthrough energy-efficient solutions for buildings and homes. These projects will help building managers and homeowners reduce energy demand, save money and accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies.

Seven incubator projects will be funded with nearly $6 million to improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), water heating, sensors and controls, and building energy modeling. Additionally, eight frontier projects will receive $8 million to address energy efficiency in advanced clothes dryers, windows, and building thermal insulation. Frontier projects seek to improve the efficiency of existing technologies by incorporating new, innovative materials or components.

Cost-shared with a $3 million investment from industry, the projects are intended to dramatically reduce energy consumption in commercial and residential buildings. In 2013, this accounted for nearly 40 percent of all energy use in the U.S., an estimated cost of $413 billion.

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“Investments in advanced energy-efficient technologies will help families and businesses reduce energy costs, while reducing carbon emissions,” said Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “These innovative approaches will improve smart-building technologies, including lighting, lighting controls, highly insulated walls and windows, as well as increase efficiency measures that complement a building’s entire energy management system.”

The incubator projects selected for funding are:

  • University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) and Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, New York) – A gas-fired combined water heater, dehumidifier, and cooler that uses membrane-based absorption to cool and dehumidify an interior space, and uses water condensed during dehumidification to heat domestic hot water.
  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) (Livermore, California) and University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland) – A high-performance refrigerator that uses a novel rotating heat exchanger that allows for evaporation without the need for a defrost cycle.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) (Berkeley, California) with California Energy Commission (Sacramento, California) – A hybrid energy modeling method that combines physics-based simulations with in-situ measured temperature data to create a more robust model for retrofit analysis.
  • SNL (Livermore, California) with Creative Thermal Solutions (Urbana, Illinois) – An ultra-efficient air conditioning and heating system based on an air-bearing rotary heat exchanger for building-scale HVAC systems.
  • QM Power Inc. (Lee’s Summit, Missouri) with United Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, Connecticut) – A higher efficiency HVAC electric motor with a novel parallel magnetic circuit path that will lower the cost of the motor by reducing the size of the conductor loop and using less powerful magnets.
  • Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio) with Intwine Connect LLC (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) – Transforming ordinary buildings into smart buildings by developing low-cost, user-installable building sensors that are powered without wires or batteries and instead harvest power from vibrational energy in the environment.
  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) with Richman Surrey LLC (Scottsdale, Arizona) and University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee) – Improving energy efficiency in small and medium commercial buildings by non-intrusively monitoring load and equipment health of HVAC systems.

The frontier projects selected for funding are:

  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) with GE Appliances (Fairfield, Connecticut) – Development of a prototype highly energy-efficient ultrasonic clothes dryer that uses ultrasound to remove moisture from a range of fabric types while producing low levels of lint.
  • GE Global Research (Niskayuna, New York) – An advanced energy-efficient clothes dryer that uses infrared heating to add energy directly to the water molecules in the clothing and heat recovery from the condensed water.
  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, TN) with Sheetak, Inc. (Austin, Texas) – An energy-efficient ventless thermoelectric clothes dryer that uses low-cost, solid-state heat pumps that use temperature differences to generate electricity, rather than a resistive heating element or gas burner.
  • Fraunhofer USA Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (Boston, Massachusetts) with Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia), Atlas Roofing Corporation (Atlanta, Georgia) – A biobased, inexpensive, noncorrosive, nonflammable foam insulation that incorporates better foaming agents and strong nanocellulose fibers to make this product more commercially-viable.
  • Alcoa Inc. (Alcoa Center, Pennsylvania) with Adhesive Systems Inc. (Frankfort, Illinois), DIAB Americas (DeSoto, Texas) & Ellsworth Adhesives (Germantown, Wisconsin) – An enhanced foam thermal insulation for commercial window systems that is placed between the inner and outer frames of the window to prevent temperature transfer through the frame and condensation on the inside frame. The final product would enable cost-neutral manufacturing of highly-insulating windows.
  • PPG Industries Inc. (Cheswik, Pennsylvania) with ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) – This project seeks to improve highly insulating vacuum insulated glazings by lowering the manufacturing costs with a fabricate-on-demand process, improving edge sealing, pillar design and the evacuation process.
  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, TN) with NanoPore, Inc. (Albuquerque, New Mexico) and Firestone Building Products Co. (Indianapolis, Indiana) – A new type of foam board insulation which uses a modified atmosphere insulation panel sandwiched inside a foam board insulation.
  • ORNL (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) with VELUX Design and Development Company USA (Greenwood, South Carolina) – A transparent window glaze that insulates without distorting or hazing the image, with applications to skylights and windows.

The Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. For more information on building technologies, visit the Building Technologies Office page.

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