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Efficiency

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.

Southwest Research Institute

Novel SOC and SOH Estimation Through Sensor Technology

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is developing a battery management system to track the performance characteristics of lithium-ion batteries during charge and discharge cycles to help analyze battery capacity and health. No two battery cells are alike--they differ over their life-times in terms of charge and discharge rates, capacity, and temperature characteristics, among other things. In SwRI's design, a number of strain gauges would be strategically placed on the cells to monitor their state of charges and overall health during operation. This could help reduce the risk of batteries being over-charged and over-discharged. This novel sensing technique should allow the battery to operate within safe limits and prolong its cycle life. SwRI is working to develop complex algorithms and advanced circuitry to help demonstrate the potential of these sensing technologies at the battery-pack level.

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

High Efficiency Wafer-Scale Thermionic Energy Converters

By leveraging advanced microfabrication processes, the team led by Stanford University will develop a scalable heat-to-electricity conversion device with higher performance at a lower manufacturing cost than is presently available to industry. The team's solid-state conversion device is based on a 20th century thermionic converter design, where an electric current is produced by heating up an electrode to eject electrons across a vacuum gap for collection by a cooler electrode. Historically, thermionic energy converters are limited by heat losses and are costly to manufacture due to the high precision used in their construction. However, by utilizing wafer-based fabrication processes to create a much smaller vacuum gap and enhanced thermal isolation structures, Stanford's thermionic converter will result in improved device performance, lower manufacturing cost, and a scalability for systems producing Watts to Megawatts of power. The team's initial focus is on the residential Combined Heat and Power (CHP) applications, but their innovative microfabricated thermionic device could also be used to improve efficiency in high-temperature solar thermal systems as well as convert waste heat from factory equipment, power plants, and vehicles to useful power.

Stanford University

Exploring the Limits of Cooling for Extreme Heat Flux Applications: Data Centers and Power Electronics

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.

Stanford University

Photonic Structures for High-Efficiency Daytime Radiative Cooling

Stanford University is developing a device for the rooftops of buildings and cars that will reflect sunlight and emit heat, enabling passive cooling, even when the sun is shining. This device requires no electricity or fuel and would reduce the need for air conditioning, leading to energy and cost savings. Stanford's technology relies on recently developed state-of-the-art concepts and techniques to tailor the absorption and emission of light and heat in nanostructured materials. This project could enable buildings, cars, and electronics to cool without using electric power.

Stanford University

Thermoacoustic Root Imaging, Biomass Analysis, and Characterization

Stanford University will develop a non-contact root imaging system that uses a hybrid of microwave excitation and ultrasound detection. Microwave excitation from the surface can penetrate the soil to the roots, and results in minor heating of the roots and soil at varying levels depending on their physical properties. This heating creates a thermoacoustic signal in the ultrasound domain that travels back out of the soil. The team's advanced ultrasound detector has the ability to detect these signals and maintain sufficient signal-to-noise ratio for imaging and root biomass analysis. The team will develop a suite of image processing algorithms to convert the data into an understanding of root properties including structure, biomass density, and depth. Plant physiologists from the Carnegie Institution for Science will partner with Stanford to characterize maize roots under various drought conditions as well as soil type and density variations. Since the entire system is non-contact, it eliminates the need to make good physical contact with the irregular soil surfaces. Over a three-year period, the team will first demonstrate the feasibility of non-contact thermoacoustics for root imaging under laboratory conditions, then develop and test a thermoacoustic system in the field. If successful, Stanford's system could examine root structures in a noninvasive manner that produces images far more advanced than current imaging methods.

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. 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.

Stony Brook University

Condensing Flue Gas Water Vapor for Cool Storage

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook will work with Brookhaven National Laboratory, United Technologies Research Center, and the Gas Technology Institute to develop a thermosyphon system that condenses water vapor from power plant flue gas for evaporative cooling. The system could provide supplemental cooling for thermoelectric power plants in which the combustion process - burning fossil fuel to produce heat - results in a significant quantity of water vapor that is typically discharged to the atmosphere. In Stony Brook's system, an advanced loop thermosyphon will allow the liquid and vapor phases to flow in the same direction, and the working fluid (water) is actively managed with a fluid delivery system to create a thin film on the wall of the thermosyphon. This thin film will enable significantly higher heat transfer rates than traditional thermosyphon evaporators that use a pool of liquid. The cooled flue gas condensate is then stored and used for subsequent evaporative cooling when the ambient temperature exceeds acceptable operating limits, such as on a hot day when a dry-cooling system alone could not cool water sufficiently for reuse. In addition to creating a novel design and control architecture, the team will also design innovative, polymer-based components to minimize corrosion from the flue gas. The team estimates its system can capture 320,000 gallons of water per day for evaporative cooling, helping to eliminate the consumption of local water resources for evaporative cooling on high-temperature days.

SUNY Polytechnic

Demonstration of PN-junctions by Implant and Growth techniques for GaN

The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), on behalf of SUNY Polytechnic University, will develop innovative doping process technologies for gallium nitride (GaN) vertical power devices to realize the potential of GaN-based devices for future high efficiency, high power applications. SUNY Polytechnic's proposed research will focus on ion implantation to enable the creation of localized doping that is necessary for fabricating GaN vertical power devices. Ion implantation is a doping process used in other semiconductor materials such as Si and GaAs but has been difficult to use in GaN due to the limited ability to perform high temperature heat treatments or anneals needed to activate the implanted dopants and repair the damage caused by implantation. The team will develop new annealing techniques to activate magnesium or silicon implanted in GaN to build p-n junctions, the principal building block of modern electronic components like transistors. High temperature anneals will be performed using an innovative gyrotron beam technique (a high-power vacuum tube that generates millimeter-length electromagnetic waves) and an aluminum nitride cap. Central to the team's project is understanding the impact of implantation on the microstructural properties of the GaN material and effects on performance.

SUNY Polytechnic

Smart SiC Power Integrated Circuits (Scalable, Manufacturable, and Robust Technology for SIC Power Integrated Circuits)

The State University of New York Polytechnic Institute will develop a scalable, manufacturable, and robust technology platform for silicon carbide (SiC) power integrated circuits. The team will leverage the relatively high maturity of SiC technology to develop highly scalable SiC integrated circuits and support devices and establish a manufacturable process baseline in a state-of-the-art, 6-inch fabrication facility. This allows for much higher power (as compared to silicon) integrated circuits in future. The technology platform opens the door to a myriad of high-performance energy applications, including automotive, industrial, electronic data processing, energy harvesting, and power conditioning.

Sustainable Energy Solutions

Cryogenic Carbon Capture

Sustainable Energy Solutions (SES) is developing a process to capture CO2 from the exhaust gas of coal-fired power plants by desublimation--the conversion of a gas to a solid. Capturing CO2 as a solid and delivering it as a liquid avoids the large energy cost of CO2 gas compression. SES' capture technology facilitates the prudent use of available energy resources; coal is our most abundant energy resource and is an excellent fuel for baseline power production. SES capture technology can capture 99% of the CO2 emissions in addition to a wide range of other pollutants more efficiently and at lower costs than existing capture technologies. SES' capture technology can be readily added to our existing energy infrastructure.

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.

Syracuse University

Microcam: A Low Power Privacy Preserving Multi-modal Platform for Occupancy Detection and Counting

Syracuse University will develop a sensor unit to detect occupancy in residential homes called MicroCam. The MicroCam system will be equipped with a very low-resolution camera sensor, a low-resolution infrared array sensor, a microphone, and a low-power embedded processor. These tools allow the system to measure shape/texture from static images, motion from video, and audio changes from the microphone input. The combination of these modalities can reduce error, since any one modality in isolation may be prone to missed detections or high false alarm rates. Advanced algorithms will translate these multiple data streams into actionable adjustments to home heating and cooling. The algorithms will be implemented locally on the sensor unit for a stand-alone solution not reliant on external computation units or cloud computing. The MicroCam system itself will be wireless and battery-powered (operating for at least 4.5 years on 3 AA or 2 C batteries), and will be designed to be easily installed and self-commissioned.

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