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DELTA

Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities

The projects in ARPA-E's DELTA Program, short for "Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities," aim to reduce the costs for heating and cooling buildings by developing Localized Thermal Management Systems (LTMS). LTMS modify the physical space around the human body rather than the entire building, with significant energy savings for both new and old buildings. Such technologies range from on-body wearable devices to off-body installed systems and provide more options for maintaining occupant comfort within buildings. ARPA-E's DELTA projects include a broad range of LTMS approaches that potentially enable energy savings of upwards of 2% of the total domestic energy supply and similar reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Cornell University

Thermoregulatory Clothing System for Building Energy Saving

Cornell University will develop thermoregulatory apparel that enables the expansion of the comfortable temperature range in buildings by more than 4°F in both heating and cooling seasons. Cornell's thermoregulatory apparel integrates advanced textile technologies and state-of-the-art wearable electronics into a functional apparel design without compromising comfort, wearability, washability, appearance, or safety. The thermoregulatory clothing system senses the wearer's skin temperature and activates a heated or cooled airflow around the individual, reducing the energy required to heat or cool the building itself by satisfying the comfort requirements of the individual.

Otherlab, Inc.

Passive Thermo-Adaptive Textiles with Laminated Polymer Bimorphs

Otherlab will develop thermally adaptive materials that change their thickness in response to temperature changes, allowing the creation of garments that passively respond to variations in temperature. In contrast to existing garments that have a constant insulation value whether conditions are hot or cold, thermally adaptive materials change shape as temperature changes, leading to a change in insulation. The material change is a physical response, passively operating and requiring no input from the wearer or any control system. Garments made from thermally adaptive fabrics will enable the wearing of fewer layers of clothing for comfort over a broader temperature range, effectively lowering the heating and cooling requirements for buildings. Beyond apparel, this advanced insulation may find applications in drapery and bedding.

SRI International

Wearable Electroactive Textile for Physiology-based Thermoregulation

SRI International will develop a highly efficient, wearable thermal regulation system that leverages the human body's natural thermal regulation areas such as the palms of the hands, soles of feet, and upper facial area. This innovative "active textile" technology is enabled by a novel combination of low-cost electroactive and passive polymer materials and structures to efficiently manage heat transfer while being quiet and comfortable. SRI's electronically controllable active textile technology is versatile - allowing the wearer to continue to use their existing wardrobe. We believe that these features will allow for products that augment wearable technologies and thus achieve the widespread adoption needed to save energy on a large scale.

Stanford University

Photonic Structure Textiles for Localized Thermal Management

Stanford University will develop transformative methods for integrating photonic, or radiant energy structures into textiles. Controlling the thermal photonic properties of textiles can significantly influence the heat dissipation rate of the human body, which loses a significant amount of heat through thermal radiation. To achieve heating, the team utilizes metallic nanowire embedded in textiles to enhance reflection of body heat. To achieve cooling, the team utilizes visibly opaque yet infrared transmissivity (IR) transparent textile. These techniques for heating and cooling have not yet been achieved to date. The team will leverage advances in photonic structures to build textiles with varying amounts of infrared transparency and reflectivity to enable a wearer to achieve comfort in a wider temperature range, and therefore generate a substantial reduction of energy consumption for both heating and cooling.

Stony Brook University

Electroactive Smart Air-Conditioner VEnt Registers (eSAVER) for Improved Personal Comfort and Reduced Electricity Consumption

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook will develop eSAVER, an active air conditioning vent capable of modulating airflow distribution, velocity, and temperature to promote localized thermal envelopes around building occupants. SUNY Stony Brook's smart vent modulates the airflow using an array of electro-active polymer tubes that are individually controlled to create a localized curtain of air to suit the occupant's heating or cooling needs. The eSAVER can immediately be implemented by simply replacing an existing HVAC register with the new unit or can be installed in new constructions for significant reduction in HVAC system size,construction cost,and further improvement in energy efficiency.The project team estimates this will result in upwards of 30% energy savings through directed localization of existing building heating/cooling output.

Syracuse University

Micro-Environmental Control System

Syracuse University will develop a near-range micro-environmental control system transforming the way office buildings are thermally conditioned to improve occupant comfort. The system leverages a high-performance micro-scroll compressor coupled to a phase-change material, which is a substance with a high latent heat of fusion and the capability to store and release large amounts of heat at a constant temperature. This material will store the cooling produced by the compression system at night, releasing it as a cool breeze of air to make occupants more comfortable during the day. When heating is needed, the system will operate as an efficient heat pump, drawing heat from the phase-change material and delivering warm air to the occupant. The micro-scroll compressor is smaller than any of its type, minimizing the amount of power needed. The use of this micro-environmental control system, along with expanding the set-point range could save more than 15% of the energy used for heating and cooling, while maintaining occupant comfort.

University of California - Irvine

Thermocomfort Cloth Inspired by Squid Skin

The University of California at Irvine will develop a dynamically adjustable thermoregulatory fabric. This fabric leverages established heat-managing capabilities of space blankets and color-changing polymers inspired by squid skin that will provide wearers with the unique ability to adaptively harness their own individual radiant heat production. This technology holds the potential to establish an entirely new line of personal apparel and localized thermal management products that could significantly reduce the energy required to heat and cool buildings.

University of California, Berkeley

Heating and Cooling the Human Body with Wirelessly Powered Devices

Until now, local comfort devices have had little market traction because they had to be tethered by a cord to a power source. The University of California at Berkeley will team with WiTricity to develop and integrate highly resonant wireless power transfer technology to deliver efficient local thermal amenities to the feet, hands, face, and trunk of occupants in workstations. Until now, local comfort devices have had little market traction because they had to be tethered by a cord to a power source. The team will leverage on-going developments in wireless charging systems for consumer electronics to integrate high-efficiency power transmitting devices with local comfort devices such as heated shoe insoles and cooled and heated office chairs. The team will develop four types of local comfort devices to deliver heating and cooling most effectively. The devices will draw very little electrical power and enable potential HVAC energy savings of at least 30%.

University of California, San Diego

Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling & Heating (ATTACH)

University of California at San Diego will develop smart responsive garments that enable building occupants to adjust their personal temperature settings and promote thermal comfort to reduce or eliminate the need for building-level air conditioning. The essence of building energy savings in UCSD's approach is based on the significant energy consumption reduction from the traditional global cooling/heating of the whole room space. This is done via localized cooling and heating only in the wearable structure in the very limited space near a person's skin. This smart textile will thermally regulate the garment's heat transport through changes in thickness and pore architecture by shrinking the textile when hot and expanding it when cold.

University of Maryland

Meta-Cooling Textile with Synergetic Infrared Radiation and Air Convection for Bidirectional Thermoregulation

Led by Dr. YuHuang Wang, the "Meta Cooling Textile (MCT)" project team is developing a thermally responsive clothing fabric that extends the skin's thermoregulation ability to maintain comfort in hotter or cooler office settings. Commercial wearable localized thermal management systems are bulky, heavy, and costly. MCT marks a potentially disruptive departure from current technologies by providing clothing with active control over the primary channels for energy exchange between the body and the environment. In hotter surroundings, the fabric's pores open up to increase ventilation while changes in the microstructure of the fabric increase the amount of energy transmitted through the fabric from the wearer. In cooler conditions, these effects are reversed to increase the garment's ability to insulate the wearer. The added bidirectional regulation capacity will enable the wearer to expand their thermal comfort range and thus relax the temperature settings in building.

University of Maryland

Robotic Personal Conditioning Device

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) account for 13% of energy consumed in the U.S. and about 40% of the energy used in a typical U.S. residence, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. Even though more energy-efficient HVAC technologies are being adopted in both the commercial and residential sectors, these technologies focus on efficiently heating or cooling large areas and dealing with how the building's net occupancy changes during a day, a week and across seasons. Building operators have to tightly manage temperature for an average occupancy comfort level; but the occupants only occupy a small fraction of the building's interior. There is a critical need for technologies that create localization of thermal management to relax the temperature settings in buildings, reduce the load on HVAC systems and enhance occupant comfort. This is achieved by tailoring the thermal environment around the individual, thus saving energy by not over-heating or over-cooling areas within the building where the occupants do not reside.

ARPA-E brings together experts from diverse disciplines and industries to frame new ways of looking at the energy challenge. By viewing the problem through a different lens, ARPA-E brings together new capabilities to develop new technology solutions. The DELTA and MONITOR programs illustrate this novel approach well. In this video, Associate Director of Technology Dr. Patrick McGrath discusses how ARPA-E has reframed the challenge of building efficiency with the DELTA program and methane leaks with the MONITOR program differently in order to yield “out of left field” technologies that can lead to transformational gains. The video features two projects – University of California San Diego’s DELTA project and Rebellion Photonics’ MONITOR project.
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