DOE Invests $15.8 million in Building Efficiency, HVAC Projects

Aug. 16, 2017

The 13 projects include investments in HVAC, controls, data management, windows and envelope. 

In an effort to improve the efficiency of buildings in the United States, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) is investing up to $15.8 million in 13 projects that aim to spur innovation in early-stage research and development.

Advancing building technologies is at the forefront of a DOE agenda, especially at a time when buildings consume almost half of all energy used in the United States and produce 39% of CO2 emissions.

The projects hope to set a foundation for future technological developments and reductions in building energy consumption.

“Technological innovations enable energy efficiency advances in the buildings sector, providing a tremendous opportunity to reduce energy waste and costs – boosting the competitiveness of U.S. companies and easing energy bills for American families,” says David Nemtzow, Director of the Building Technologies Office. “As buildings account for 40% of the energy consumption in the United States, these efficiency innovations allow us to further improve upon past progress.”

The 13 projects include investments in HVAC, controls, data management, windows and envelope. Specifically, the projects are:

Six heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) projects selected:

  • Stone Mountain Technologies Inc. (Johnson City, Tennessee) will validate and analyze a gas-fired absorption heat pump that uses an ammonia-water absorption cycle.
  • University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland) will develop the next-generation reduced charge air-to-refrigerant heat exchangers using non-round tubes.
  • Arkema Inc. (King of Prussia, Pennsylvania) will develop formulations and additive materials that can mitigate the flammability of A2L refrigerant blends.
  • Xergy (Harrington, Delaware) will investigate electrochemical compression technology combined with ionic liquid desiccant technology to improve latent and sensible heat loads in air-conditioning systems.
  • United Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, Connecticut) will develop and validate a high-efficiency compressor based roof-top air-conditioning system that uses a sustainable, nontoxic, nonflammable, and high-efficiency refrigerant.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) will investigate a novel dehumidification process to avoid the excessive energy utilized by conventional approaches, through high frequency mechanical vibration of ultrasonic transducers to “eject” adsorbed water.

Five sensors, controls, data, and modeling projects:

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (Golden, Colorado) will characterize DC miscellaneous electric loads and distribution equipment, DC network configurations, and savings opportunities by extending DOE’s state-of-the-art open-source whole-building energy modeling tool-chain EnergyPlus and OpenStudio with power distribution modeling capabilities, enabling evaluation of energy and economic benefits of AC, DC, and hybrid distribution systems.
  • University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California) will integrate AC plug-through meters to measure real, reactive, and apparent power with load monitoring based on extracting high-fidelity electrical waveform features to capture power profiles and automatically identify and categorize miscellaneous electric loads in a scalable manner to improve understanding of their energy consumption.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia) will explore innovations in RF integrated circuits, optimal operation and coordination of multiple radios and miscellaneous electric load modes, and energy efficient antennae to develop ultra-low power radios to reduce power consumption of wireless appliances.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia) will develop a technique to automatically construct new contextual information for sensing and control points, allowing integration and connectivity from building analytics engines to commercial building control systems with minimal or no manual point mapping.
  • PARC Xerox (Palo Alto, California) will investigate reversible physisorption by measuring the heat generated by the absorption of CO2 into a sorbent for occupancy detection to enable demand control ventilation (DCV) on a per-room basis.

Two windows and envelope projects:

  • Fraunhofer CSE (Boston, Massachusetts) will develop a novel polyisocyanurate-based aerogel insulation through novel freeze drying processing.
  • Stanford University (Stanford, California) will explore reversible electroplating of metal and low resistance transparent conductors with micro copper grids to develop low-cost dynamic windows with faster switching speeds.

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