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Efficiency

University of California, Berkeley

Rapid Building Energy Modeler - RAPMOD

The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Indoor Reality are developing a portable scanning system and the associated software to rapidly generate indoor thermal and physical building maps. This will allow for cost-effective identification of building inefficiencies and recommendation of energy-saving measures. The scanning system is contained in a backpack which an operator would wear while walking through a building along with a handheld scanner. The backpack features sensors that collect building data such as room size and shape along with associated thermal characteristics. These data can then be automatically processed to detect building elements, such as windows and lighting, and then generate 2D floor plans and 3D maps of the building geometry and thermal features. The backpack technology enables rapid data collection and export to existing computer models to guide strategies that could reduce building energy usage. Because the skills required to operate this technology are less than required for a traditional energy audit and the process is significantly faster, the overall cost of the audit can be reduced and the accuracy of the collected data is improved. This reduced cost should incentivize more building managers to conduct energy audits and implement energy saving measures.

University of California, Berkeley

Heating and Cooling the Human Body with Wirelessly Powered Devices

The University of California, Berkeley (UC 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, Los Angeles

Compact MEMS Electrocaloric Cooling Module

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is developing a novel solid state cooling technology to translate a recent scientific discovery of the so-called giant electrocaloric effect into commercially viable compact cooling systems. Traditional air conditioners use noisy, vapor compression systems that include a polluting liquid refrigerant to circulate within the air conditioner, absorb heat, and pump the heat out into the environment. Electrocaloric materials achieve the same result by heating up when placed within an electric field and cooling down when removed--effectively pumping heat out from a cooler to warmer environment. This electrocaloric-based solid state cooling system is quiet and does not use liquid refrigerants. The innovation includes developing nano-structured materials and reliable interfaces for heat exchange. With these innovations and advances in micro/nano-scale manufacturing technologies pioneered by semiconductor companies, UCLA is aiming to extend the performance/reliability of the cooling module.

University of California, Los Angeles

THermally INsulating TraNsparEnt BarrieR (THINNER) Coatings for Single-Pane Windows

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will harness advances in nanotechnology to produce thermally insulating transparent barrier (THINNER) coatings to reduce heat losses through single panes of glass. The porous coatings consist of multiple layers of silica/titania films that can simultaneously control the transmission of heat, light and thermal radiation. The internal structure of the coatings is determined by a polymer lattice that is later removed. This leaves a robust porous oxide layer that is transparent and thermally insulating. In addition to reducing heat loss, the coatings will reduce water condensation on the inner window surface and block harmful ultraviolet light. The project will also develop a scalable, high-temperature spray-on process to inexpensively deposit the coating onto glass at the factory.

University of California, San Diego

Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling & Heating (ATTACH)

The University of California, San Diego (UC 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 UC San Diego'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 California, San Diego

LEED: A Lightwave Energy-Efficient Datacenter

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) will develop a new datacenter network based on photonic technology that can double the energy efficiency of a datacenter. Their LEED project mirrors the development of CPU processors in PCs. Previous limitations in the clock rate of computer processors forced designers to adopt parallel methods of processing information and to incorporate multiple cores within a single chip. The team envisions a similar development within datacenters, where the advent of parallel lightwave networks can act as a bridge to more efficient datacenters. This architecture leverages advanced photonic switching and interconnects in a scalable way. Additionally, the team will add a low-loss optical switch technology that routes the data traffic carried as light waves. They will also add the development of packaged, scalable transmitters and receivers that can be used in the system without the need for energy-consuming optical amplification, while still maintaining the appropriate signal-to-noise ratio. The combination of these technologies can create an easily controllable, energy-efficient architecture to help manage rapidly transitioning data infrastructure to cloud-based services and cloud-based computing hosted in datacenters.

University of California, San Diego

"Thinner Than Air": Polymer-Based Coatings of Single-Pane Windows

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) will develop a polymer-based thermal insulating film that can be applied onto windowpanes to reduce heat loss and condensation. The team's approach uses polymer-based coatings with specifically designed structures. Heat management is gained by the thermal conductivity of polymer and the internal thermal barriers. The coating is inherently low-emissivity, and also resists condensation and abrasion. The technology is initially designed for single-pane windows, but can be expanded in the future for use in double-pane windows, doors, and roofs, as well as potential applications in the automobile, aerospace, and military industries.

University of California, San Diego

Production of Large-Sized LOCH Parts

The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) will develop a scalable process for the production of large (up to 500 lb.) pre-cast blocks using lean-organic compacted hybrid (LOCH), a new type of infrastructural material which may compete with traditional portland cement. Portland cement is the most common cement type and one of the most versatile construction materials in the world. Its widespread use over the last century is due to its low cost, abundance of its ingredients including limestone and shales, and standard performance characteristics. However, the production of portland cement involves heating the raw materials to high temperatures, which is an energy intensive process. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions by producing nearly one ton of CO2 for every ton of cement. The UC San Diego team proposes LOCH as a cheaper, more durable, energy efficient alternative to portland cement. LOCH is not formed through hydration like traditional cement, but rather uses a polymer binder to bond raw sand or soil grains together. This method uses only the minimal amount of binder content, leading to low material costs. If implemented widely, LOCH could provide a drastic reduction in energy use and CO2 emissions as compared to portland cement, at a significant cost reduction. The 1-2 hour fast setting time of LOCH can simplify project management and further lower costs of construction logistics and labor. The construction procedure of LOCH does not require rebar, the steel mesh and bars used to reinforce traditional cement, eliminating their time consuming installation and repair operations. LOCH also promises increased strength, durability, and longer service life. Nearly 15% of portland cement is used for precast parts, standard cement parts pre-assembled offsite. The team will first target this precast market, as it provides the best opportunity to easily integrate and scale the new technology.

University of California, Santa Barbara

FRESCO: Frequency Stabilized Coherent Optical Low-energy Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) DC Interconnects

The University of California-Santa Barbara will develop a low power, low-cost solution to overcome power and bandwidth scaling limitations facing hyperscale data centers and exponential growth in global data traffic. The FRESCO transceiver leverages advances in fundamental laser physics and photonic integration to enable terabit, coherent optical data transmission inside data centers through chip-scale spectrally pure and ultra-stable wavelength division multiplexed laser light sources . The project outcome will be an integrated photonic package capable of connecting to 100 terabit-per-second networking switches over coherent optical short-reach data center fiber links. This effort could transform the way data centers, data center interconnects, and terabit Ethernet switches are built, drastically reducing their global energy consumption.

University of California, Santa Barbara

High Efficiency Quantum-Dot Photonic Integrated Circuit Technology Epitaxially Grown on Silicon

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will develop a new technology for optical communication links. Optical interconnects transfer data by carrying light through optical fibers, and offer higher bandwidths than copper with higher efficiency and, consequently, reduced heat losses. However, short-reach optical interconnects are not widely used because of their higher costs and larger device footprints. Production costs of these interconnects could be reduced by using silicon-based fabrication technologies, but silicon is not suited for fabricating lasers, a key ingredient. In contrast III-V semiconductors, are well-suited for fabricating highly efficient lasers, but at a high cost. The team plans to combine these components to create III-V lasers, grown on a silicon substrate, harnessing both the low cost of silicon and the superior laser of the III-V semiconductor. However, growing the III-V laser material directly on silicon is difficult due to incompatibilities in their crystal structures. The team aims to overcome this challenge by implementing nanostructures called "quantum dots" as the light producing material and by growing the structure on patterned silicon substrates to help contain potential defects.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Laser-Based Solid State Lighting 

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will develop a gallium nitride (GaN) laser-based white light emitter with no efficiency droop at high current densities. The team's solution will address the efficiency and cost limitations of LEDs. Laser diodes do not suffer efficiency droop at high current densities, and this allows for the design of lamps using a single, small, light-emitting chip operating at high current densities. Using a single chip reduces system costs compared with LEDs because the system uses less material per chip, requires fewer chips, and employs simplified optics and a simplified heat-sink. The chip area required for LED technologies will be significantly reduced using laser-based solid state lighting. This technology will also enable highly controllable beams of light that cannot be achieved with LEDs. The goal of the project is to develop a 1,000 lumen laser-based white light emitter with the efficiency of at least 200 lm/W and a cost of $0.25/klm.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Intelligent Reduction of Energy through Photonic Integration for Datacenters (INTREPID)

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will develop and demonstrate a technology platform that integrates efficient photonic interfaces directly into chip "packages." The simultaneous design and packaging of photonics with electronics will enable higher bandwidth network switches that are much more energy efficient. Traditional electronic switches toggle connections between wires, each wire providing a different communication channel. Having a limited number of communication channels means that electronic switches can lead to "fat" hierarchical networks, consuming energy each time data has to travel through one switch to another. By developing a platform that directly integrates efficient photonics into first-level chip packages, layers of traditional network hierarchy can be eliminated, reducing the power, latency, and cost of datacenters. Photonic interconnects integrated directly into chip packages can enable switches with a much larger port count than traditional electronic switches. These new, larger switches will connect more servers using fewer levels of required switching. The team estimates that an improvement in the network metrics (either cost or power) will enable a more than linear improvement in the overall transactional efficiency because faster networks and faster endpoint data-rates can be deployed, reducing the total number of computational and storage systems necessary to satisfy user transactions.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Current Aperture Vertical Electron Transistor Device Architectures for Efficient Power Switching

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) will develop new vertical gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technologies that will significantly enhance the performance and reduce the cost of high-power electronics. UCSB will markedly reduce the size of its vertical GaN semiconductor devices compared to today's commercially available, lateral GaN-on-silicon-based devices. Despite their reduced size, UCSB's vertical GaN devices will exhibit improved performance and significantly lower power losses when switching and converting power than lateral GaN devices. UCSB will also simplify fabrication processes to keep costs down.

University of Cincinnati

Enhanced Air-Cooling System with Optimized Asynchronously-Cooled Thermal Energy Storage

University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers will develop a dry-cooling system, featuring an enhanced air-cooled condenser and a novel daytime peak-load shifting system (PLSS) that will enable dry cooling for power plants even during hot days. The team will transform a conventional air-cooled condenser by incorporating flow-modulating surfaces and modifying the tubular geometry of the system, both of which will reduce heat transfer resistance and increase the thermal surface area. Whenever the air temperature becomes too high for the air-cooled heat exchanger to be effective, the PLSS will cool the air inlet temperature back down to acceptable temperatures. This inlet air-cooler technology removes heat from the incoming air and stores it in a thermal energy storage (TES) system that incorporates phase-change materials, which can store and release heat over a range of temperatures. During periods when the ambient air is cooler, the TES will release the stored heat to the atmosphere. Together, the combined innovations could quadruple the condenser's coefficient of performance, while the system's compact design will result in a smaller footprint than other air-cooled designs.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Efficient Capacitive Wireless Power Transfer System for Electric Vehicles

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) proposes to develop a capacitive wireless power transfer (WPT) architecture to dynamically charge EVs. Dynamic charging poses serious technical challenges. Transmitters must be connected to the plates in the road while rectifiers and battery charging is integrated with the plates in the vehicle. While energy transfer through the air is efficient, the large distance between the embedded vehicle plates and the road results in a weaker pairing between the two. To effectively transfer kilowatts of power without exceeding safe voltages, the operating frequency of the resonant inverters has to be very high. Today's WPT systems operate with resonant magnetic fields focused with hefty ferrite cores and losses in these ferrites limit the frequency at which these systems can operate to less than 150 kHz. This project focuses on capacitive WPT with potentially higher efficiency than resonant inductive power transfer, while reducing size and cost. The team will develop a novel MHz frequency capacitive WPT system that safely operates within the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) radio spectrum. The team's WPT technology aims to improve EVs by reducing the need for expensive and bulky on-board batteries, enable unlimited driving range, and accelerate electric vehicle penetration. The project aims to design a 1-kW 12-cm air gap capacitive WPT, which targets >90% efficiency and 50 kW/m2 power transfer density, a power density improvement of 2 over current methods.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Advancing Insulation Retrofits from Flexible Inexpensive Lucid Materials (AIR FILMs) for Single-Pane Windiows

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) with its partners will develop a flexible window film made of nanostructured cellulose. The film can be applied onto single-pane windows to improve their energy efficiency without compromising transparency. The team will be able to economically harvest cellulose needed for the films from food waste using a bacteria-driven process. The cellulose will self-assemble into liquid crystal type structures that selectively reflect infrared light (or heat) while transmitting visible light. The technology is related to liquid crystals that are used in display screens ranging from smart phones to flat-panel HDTVs. The optical properties of these crystals arise from fine-tuning the arrangement of the individual molecules and nanostructures that compose the crystals. Engineering the liquid crystals to be transparent to visible light but able to reflect infrared light will allow heat retention in building spaces, similar to low-emissivity glass.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Frequency Comb-Based Remote Methane Observation Network

The University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) will team up with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (a partnership between CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to develop a reduced-cost, dual frequency comb spectrometer. The frequency comb would consist of 105 evenly spaced, sharp, single frequency laser lines covering a broad wavelength range that includes the unique absorption signatures of natural gas constituents like methane. The team has shown that frequency comb spectrometers can measure methane and other gases at parts-per-billion concentration levels over kilometer-long path lengths. Current, long-range sensing systems cannot detect methane with high sensitivity, accuracy, or stability. The team's frequency combs, however, are planned to be able to detect and distinguish methane, ethane, propane, and other gases without frequent calibration. When integrated into a complete methane detection system, the combs could lower the costs of methane sensing due to their ability to survey large areas or multiple gas fields simultaneously. When employed as part of a complete methane detection system, the team's innovation aims to improve the accuracy of methane detection while decreasing the costs of systems, which could encourage widespread adoption of methane emission mitigation at natural gas sites.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Achieving a 10,000 GPU Permeance for Post-Combustion Carbon Capture with Gelled Ionic Liquid-Based Membranes

Alongside Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute, the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is developing a membrane made of a gelled ionic liquid to capture CO2 from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants. The membranes are created by spraying the gelled ionic liquids in thin layers onto porous support structures using a specialized coating technique. The new membrane is highly efficient at pulling CO2 out of coal-derived flue gas exhaust while restricting the flow of other materials through it. The design involves few chemicals or moving parts and is more mechanically stable than current technologies. The team is now working to further optimize the gelled materials for CO2 separation and create a membrane layer that is less than 1 micrometer thick.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Wafer-Level Sub-Module Integrated DC/DC Converter

The University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) is developing advanced power conversion components that can be integrated into individual solar panels to improve energy yields. The solar energy that is absorbed and collected by a solar panel is converted into useable energy for the grid through an electronic component called an inverter. Many large, conventional solar energy systems use one, central inverter to convert energy. CU-Boulder is integrating smaller, microconverters into individual solar panels to improve the efficiency of energy collection. The university's microconverters rely on electrical components that direct energy at high speeds and ensure that minimal energy is lost during the conversion process--improving the overall efficiency of the power conversion process. CU-Boulder is designing its power conversion devices for use on any type of solar panel.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Nanomanufacturing of Nanophononic Devices: Ultra-High ZT Thermoelectrics for Efficient Conversion of Waste Heat

The University of Colorado Boulder aims to revolutionize thermoelectrics, the semiconductor devices that convert heat flow into electricity without moving parts or emitting pollutants, by creating a "nanophononic" thermoelectric device. This concept relies on a newly discovered phenomenon where closely packed tiny structures added perpendicular to a thin solid membrane impede the flow of heat down the membrane through atomic vibrations (phonons). The device is predicted to convert waste heat to electricity at twice the efficiency of today's best thermoelectric devices.

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