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Efficiency

Rebellion Photonics, Inc.

goGCI - Portable Methane Detection Solution

Rebellion Photonics plans to develop portable methane gas cloud imagers that can wirelessly transmit real-time data to a cloud-based computing service. This would allow data on the concentration, leak rate, location, and total emissions of methane to be streamed to a mobile device, like an iPad, smartphone, or Google Glass. The infrared imaging spectrometers will leverage snapshot spectral imaging technology to provide multiple bands of spectral information for each pixel in the image. Similar to a Go Pro camera, the miniature, lightweight camera is planned to be attached to a worker's hardhat or clothing, allowing for widespread deployment. By providing a real-time image of the plume to a mobile device, the technology's goal is to provide increased awareness of leaks for faster leak repair. This system could enable significant reduction in the cost associated with identifying, quantifying, and locating methane leaks as compared to currently available technologies.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Reflected Light Field Sensing for Precision Occupancy and Location Detection

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) will develop a method for counting occupants in a commercial space using time-of-flight (TOF) sensors, which measure the distance from objects using the speed of light to create a 3D map of human positions. This TOF system could be installed in the ceiling or built into lighting fixtures for easy deployment. Several sensors distributed across a space will enable precise mapping, while preserving privacy by using low-resolution images. The technology is being designed around low power infrared LEDs and a patented plenoptic detector technology together with TOF information, which can enable unique combinations of spatial resolution, field of view and privacy. The sensor network will maintain an accurate count of the number of people in the space, and uses a simple program to track people who may be temporarily lost between sensor "blind spots", thus reducing the number of sensors needed. Occupancy data is then sent to the building control system to manage the heating, cooling and air flow in order to maximize building energy efficiency and provide optimal human comfort. Energy costs of heating and cooling can be reduced by up to 30% by training the building management system to deliver the right temperature air when and where it is needed.

Research Triangle Institute

Novel Non-Aqueous CO2 Solvents and Capture Process with Substantially Reduced Energy Penalties

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is developing a solvent and process that could significantly reduce the temperature associated with regenerating solvent and CO2 captured from the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants. Traditional CO2 removal processes using water-based solvents require significant amount of steam from power plants in order to regenerate the solvent so it can be reused after each reaction. RTI's solvents can be better at absorbing CO2 than many water-based solvents, and are regenerated at lower temperatures using less steam. Thus, industrial heat that is normally too cool to re-use can be deployed for regeneration, rather than using high-value steam. This saves the power plant money, which results in increased cost savings for consumers.

Research Triangle Institute

High Operating Temperature Transfer and Storage (HOTTS) System for Light Metal Production

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is developing a high-quality concentrating solar thermal energy transport and storage system for use in light metals manufacturing. A challenge with integrating renewable energy into light metals manufacturing has been the need for large quantities of very high temperature heat. RTI's technology overcomes this challenge with a specialized heat transfer powder. This powder can be heated to temperatures of 1100 degrees Celsius with concentrating solar thermal energy, some 400 degrees Celsius higher than conventional solutions. Because the heat transfer fluid can also store thermal energy, metal manufacturing plants can continue to operate even when the sun is not shining. RTI will also develop advanced materials that will protect the system's components from the accelerated degradation experienced at these high operating temperatures. This technology will enable constant, high-temperature operation of the light metals production process with reduced CO2 emissions.

Ricardo, Inc.

Reducing Automotive CAPEX Entry Barriers through Design, Manufacturing and Materials

Ricardo will develop a detailed cost model for 10 key automotive components (e.g. chassis, powertrain, controls, etc.), analyzing the investment barriers at production volumes. Prior studies of innovative manufacturing processes and lightweight materials have used differing cost analysis assumptions, which makes comparison of these individual studies difficult. The backbone of the project will be a detailed economic model built on a set of common assumptions that will allow the root cause of cost barriers to be identified. The model will then evaluate emerging alternative manufacturing techniques to determine how they might reduce or remove these barriers. This model will utilize a consistent set of assumptions, allowing for an accurate comparison of potential manufacturing techniques. If successful, this cost model will enable private-sector firms to make informed investment decisions, increasing the deployment of innovative vehicle technologies and saving the average consumer money.

Sandia National Laboratory

High Voltage Re-grown GaN P-N Diodes Enabled by Defect and Doping Control

Vertical transistors based on bulk gallium nitride (GaN) have emerged as promising candidates for future high efficiency, high power applications. However, they have been plagued by poor electrical performance attributed to the existing selective doping processes. Sandia National Laboratories will develop patterned epitaxial regrowth of GaN as a selective area doping processes to fabricate diodes with electronic performance equivalent to as-grown state-of-the-art GaN diodes. The team's research will provide a better understanding of which particular defects resulting from impurities and etch damage during the epitaxial regrowth process limit device performance, how those defects specifically impact the junction electronic properties, and ultimately how to control and mitigate the defects. The improved mechanistic understanding developed under the project will help the team design specific approaches to controlling impurity contamination and defect incorporation at regrowth interfaces and include development of in-chamber cleans and regrowth initiation processes to recover a high-quality epitaxial surfaces immediately prior to crystal regrowth.

Sandia National Laboratory

MVDC/HVDC Power Conversion with Optically-Controlled GaN Switches

Sandia National Laboratories will develop a new type of switch, a 100kV optically controlled switch (often called photoconductive semiconductor switch or PCSS), based on the WBG semiconductors GaN and AlGaN. The capabilities of the PCSS will be demonstrated in high-voltage circuits for medium and high voltage direct current (MVDC/HVDC) power conversion for grid applications. Photoconductivity is the measure of a material's response to the energy inherent in light radiation. The electrical conductivity of a photoconductive material increases when it absorbs light. The team will first measure the photoconductive properties of GaN and AlGaN in order to assess if they operate similarly to gallium arsenide, a conventional semiconductor material used for PCSS, demonstrating sub-bandgap optical triggering and low-field, high-gain avalanche providing many times as many carriers by the electric field as created by the optical trigger. These two effects provide a tremendous reduction in the optical trigger energy required to activate the switch. The team will then design and fabricate GaN and AlGaN-based photoconductive semiconductor switches. The team predicts that WBG PCSS will outperform their predecessors with higher switch efficiency, the ability to switch at higher voltages, and will turn-off and recover faster, allowing for a higher frequency of switching. Ultimately, this will enable high-voltage switch assemblies (50-500kV) that can be triggered from a single, small driver (e.g. semiconductor laser). These modules will be substantially smaller (~10x) and simpler than existing modules used in grid-connected power electronics, allowing the realization of inexpensive and efficient switch modules that can be used in DC to AC power conversion systems on the grid at distribution and transmission scales.

Scanalytics

Floor Sensors for Occupancy Counting in Commercial Buildings

Scanalytics will develop pressure-sensitive flooring underlayers capable of sensing large areas of commercial buildings with a high-resolution and fast response time. This technology will enable the precise counting of people in commercial environments like stores, offices, and convention centers. The floor sensors will consist of a material which changes electrical resistance when compressed. Conductive elements above and below the material will measure the resistance at a grid of points within the floor mat, and electronics will control the switching between sensors, cache the results for transmission, and transmit the readings to a local gateway for analysis. The team's system and data processing algorithms will be developed to resolve multiple people in close proximity, as well as account for non-typical travel methods such as wheelchairs and crutches. This occupancy information may be passed directly to HVAC control, or combined with occupancy information from other sensors to manage the heating, cooling and air flow in order to maximize building energy efficiency and provide optimal human comfort. Energy costs of heating and cooling can be reduced by up to 30% by training the building management system to deliver the right temperature air when and where it is needed.

Sheetak, Inc.

Non-Equilibrium Asymmetic Thermoelectric (NEAT) Devices

Sheetak is developing a thermoelectric-based solid state cooling system that is more efficient, more reliable, and more affordable than today's best systems. Many air conditioners are based on vapor compression, in which a liquid refrigerant circulates within the air conditioner, absorbs heat, and then pumps it out into the external environment. Sheetak's system, by contrast, relies on an electrical current passing through the junction of two different conducting materials to change temperature. Sheetak's design uses proprietary thermoelectric materials to achieve significant energy efficiency and, unlike vapor compression systems, contains no noisy moving parts or polluting refrigerants. Additionally, Sheetak's air conditioner would be made with some of the same manufacturing processes used to produce semiconductor chips, which could lead to less material use and facilitate more affordable production.

Signetron Inc.

Using a Smart-Phone for Fast, Automated Energy Audit of Buildings

Signetron is developing a technology that will enable fast, cost effective, and accurate energy audits without the need for expensive, skilled labor to collect data manually. Signetron's innovation integrates low-cost visible and infrared optical cameras into a handheld scanner with depth sensing. This enables the operator to capture indoor 3D maps of building geometry and energy-relevant features as they traverse a building. Captured data is uploaded to the cloud where it is analyzed by Signetron software to generate an energy model and provide actionable energy audit information. If successful, this technology will reduce the time and cost associated with today's energy audits by a factor of 5 and 10 respectively, while offering actionable energy-saving recommendations. This technology could lower the cost barrier for building energy audits, thereby enabling property owners and facility managers to better understand the sources of energy loss in their buildings and where to optimally target retrofits to improve energy savings.

SixPoint Materials, Inc.

GaN Homoepitaxial Wafers by Vapor Phase Epitaxy on Low-Cost, High-Quality Ammonothermal GaN Substrates

SixPoint Materials will create low-cost, high-quality vertical gallium nitride (GaN) substrates for use in high-power electronic devices. In its two-phase project, SixPoint Materials will first focus on developing a high-quality GaN substrate and then on expanding the substrate's size. Substrates are thin wafers of semiconducting material used to power devices like transistors and integrated circuits. SixPoint Materials will use a two-phase production approach that employs both hydride vapor phase epitaxy technology and ammonothermal growth techniques to create its high-quality, low-cost GaN substrates.

Soraa, Inc.

High-Pressure Ammonothermal Process for Bulk Gallium Nitride Crystal Growth for Energy Efficient Commercially Competitive Lighting

Soraa's new GaN crystal growth method is adapted from that used to grow quartz crystals, which are very inexpensive and represent the second-largest market for single crystals for electronic applications (after silicon). More extreme conditions are required to grow GaN crystals and therefore a new type of chemical growth chamber was invented that is suitable for large-scale manufacturing. A new process was developed that grows GaN crystals at a rate that is more than double that of current processes. The new technology will enable GaN substrates with best-in-world quality at lowest-in-world prices, which in turn will enable new generations of white LEDs, lasers for full-color displays, and high-performance power electronics.

Soraa, Inc.

Large-Area, Low-Cost Bulk GaN Substrates for Power Electronics

Soraa will develop a cost-effective technique to manufacture high-quality, high-performance gallium nitride (GaN) crystal substrates that have fewer defects by several orders of magnitude than conventional GaN substrates and cost about 10 times less. Substrates are thin wafers of semiconducting material needed to power devices like transistors and integrated circuits. Most GaN-based electronics today suffer from very high defect levels and, in turn, reduced performance. In addition to reducing defects, Soraa will also develop methods capable of producing large-area GaN substrates--3 to 4 times larger in diameter than conventional GaN substrates--that can handle high-power switching applications.

SRI International

Direct Low-Cost Production of Titanium Alloys

SRI International is developing a reactor that is able to either convert titanium tetrachloride to titanium powder or convert multiple metal chlorides to titanium alloy powder in a single step. Conventional titanium extraction and conversion processes involve expensive and energy intensive melting steps. SRI is examining the reaction between hydrogen and metal chlorides, which could produce titanium alloys without multiple complicated steps. Using titanium powder for transportation applications has not been practical until now because of the high cost of producing powder from titanium ingots. SRI's reactor requires less material because it produces powder directly rather than converting it from intermediate materials such as sponge or ingot. Transforming titanium production into a direct process could reduce costs and energy consumption by eliminating energy intensive steps and decreasing material inputs.

SRI International

Window Retrofit Applique Using Phonon Engineering (WRAP)

SRI International, in collaboration with its partners will develop a transparent, adhesive film that can be easily applied to single-pane windows to reduce heat loss from warm rooms during cold weather. The team proposes an entirely new approach to thermal barriers and will develop a new class of non-porous materials that use nanoparticles to reflect heat and provide superior thermal insulation. Moreover, the transparent film does not block visible light, meaning that the coating allows light to transmit through the window and brighten the interior. The film could also improve the soundproofing of the window.

SRI International

STATIC Radiative Cooling for Cold Storage

SRI International and PPG Industries are integrating SRI's proprietary Spectrally Tuned All-Polymer Technology for Inducing Cooling (STATIC) technology into a novel structure for use as a radiative cooling system that can provide supplemental cooling for power plant water during the daytime or nighttime. The two-layer polymer structure covers a pool holding power plant condenser discharge water. The cover prevents sunlight from penetrating it and warming the water, while allowing thermal energy to radiate to the sky, even during the day. The STATIC structure provides an insulating air gap to prevent conductive and convective heating, and both layers work in concert to reject solar energy. Specifically, the bottom layer acts as an emitter at the water temperature and radiates heat to the sky, while the top layer and key component, produced using STATIC technology, enables transmittance of the thermal radiation. The cooling power can achieve greater than 100 W/m2 without evaporation. All materials are inexpensive and amenable to scalable manufacturing techniques, which could lower the cost of the system.

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

Large-Scale Energy Reductions through Sensors, Feedback, and Information Technology

A team of researchers from more than 10 departments at Stanford University is collaborating to transform the way Americans interact with our energy-use data. The team built a web-based platform that collects historical electricity data, which it uses to perform a variety of experiments to learn what triggers people to respond. Experiments include new financial incentives, a calculator to understand the potential savings of efficient appliances, new Facebook interface designs, communication studies using Twitter, and educational programs with the Girl Scouts. Economic modeling is underway to better understand how results from the San Francisco Bay Area can be broadened to other parts of the country.

Stanford University

Utilizing CO2 for Commodity Polymer Synthesis

Stanford University will develop a new process to produce furan-2,5-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a potential replacement for purified terephthalic acid (PTA). PTA is produced from petroleum on the scale of 60 million tons per year and used to make synthetic polymers like polyester. The production of PTA is associated with 90 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. FDCA, on the other hand, can be made from biomass and its polymers boast superior physical properties for high-volume applications such as beverage bottles. Current technologies produce FDCA from food sources (fructose) and have not demonstrated economic competitiveness with PTA. The Stanford technology produces FDCA from CO2 and furfural, a feedstock chemical produced industrially from waste biomass. The use of CO2 avoids challenging oxidation reactions required for fructose-based syntheses, which provides a potential advantage for commercial production. Packed-bed reactors utilizing the technology have achieved high FDCA yields but require reaction times that are too long for industrial application. This project will transition the process to a fluidized bed reactor, where reactants are suspended in flowing CO2, to achieve industrially viable synthesis rates. If optimized, the process could enable the production of FDCA with negative greenhouse gas emissions.

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.

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