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Efficiency

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.

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.

Sun Catalytix

Affordable Energy from Water and Sunlight

Sun Catalytix is developing wireless energy-storage devices that convert sunlight and water into renewable fuel. Learning from nature, one such device mimics the ability of a tree leaf to convert sunlight into storable energy. It is comprised of a silicon solar cell coated with catalytic materials, which help speed up the energy conversion process. When this cell is placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, it splits the water into bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen and oxygen can later be recombined to create electricity, when the sun goes down for example. The Sun Catalytix device is novel in many ways: it consists primarily of low-cost, earth-abundant materials where other attempts have required more expensive materials like platinum. Its operating conditions also facilitate the use of less costly construction materials, whereas other efforts have required extremely corrosive conditions.

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.

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.

TDA Research, Inc.

Novel Desiccant Cycle for Flue Gas Water Recovery and Cool Storage

TDA Research will develop a water recovery system that extracts and condenses 64% of the water vapor produced by the gas turbine in a natural gas combined cycle's (NGCC) power plant and stores this water for use in evaporative cooling. The system will provide supplemental cooling to NGCC power plants in which the combustion process - burning the natural gas to produce heat - produces a significant quantity of water vapor that is typically discharged to the atmosphere. First, a direct-contact condensation cycle will recover 27% of water vapor from the flue gas. To increase the amount of water recovered, a desiccant, which is a substance that attracts water, will be used to absorb an additional 37% of the water vapor. TDA's desiccant cycle utilizes the waste heat in the exhaust to regenerate the desiccant for reuse. This water recovery cycle would occur during cooler months when the water from combustion is easier to capture. Much of the water collected during this period will then be stored in an adjacent lake and saved for use during hotter summer months when evaporative cooling offers the maximum benefit to improve power plant efficiency. The project team estimates that its technology can reduce the performance penalty of a dry-cooling system by 30% compared to wet cooling. Moreover, the team is designing the system to use low-cost materials, which reduces capital costs.

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, LLC

Integrated Power Chip Converter for Solid-State Lighting

Teledyne Scientific & Imaging is developing cost-effective power drivers for energy-efficient LED lights that fit on a compact chip. These power drivers are important because they transmit power throughout the LED device. Traditional LED driver components waste energy and don't last as long as the LED itself. They are also large and bulky, so they must be assembled onto a circuit board separately which increases the overall manufacturing cost of the LED light. Teledyne is shrinking the size and improving the efficiency of its LED driver components by using thin layers of an iron magnetic alloy and new gallium nitride on silicon devices. Smaller, more efficient components will enable the drivers to be integrated on a single chip, reducing costs. The new semiconductors in Teledyne's drivers can also handle higher levels of power and last longer without sacrificing efficiency. Initial applications for Teledyne's LED power drivers include refrigerated grocery display cases and retail lighting.

Texas A&M University

SLEEPIR - Synchronized Low-energy Electronically-chopped PIR Sensor for Occupancy Detection

Texas A&M University will develop an advanced, low-cost occupancy detection solution for residential homes. Their system, called SLEEPIR, is based on pyroelectric infrared sensors (PIR) a popular choice for occupancy detection and activity tracking due to their low cost, low energy consumption, large detection range, and wide field of view. However, traditional PIR sensors can only detect individuals in motion. The team proposes a next-generation PIR sensor that is able to detect non-moving heat sources and provide quantitative information on movement. Their innovation relies on the use of an "optical chopper" which temporarily interrupts the flow of heat to the sensor and allows the device to detect both stationary and moving individuals. The team will evaluate several approaches for the chopper, such as new low-power liquid crystal technology with no moving parts. They will apply new signal processing techniques and machine learning to the infrared data, enabling differentiation between pets and people and potentially sleep vs. active states. A central hub accepts wireless data from the sensors and overrides the home thermostat as needed to adjust temperatures and provide up to 30% energy savings to the home.

Texas A&M University

Stimuli-Responsive Metal Organic Frameworks for Energy-Efficient Post Combustion Capture

A team led by three professors at Texas A&M University is developing a subset of metal organic frameworks that respond to stimuli such as small changes in temperature to trap CO2 and then release it for storage. These frameworks are a promising class of materials for carbon capture applications because their structure and chemistry can be controlled with great precision. Because the changes in temperature required to trap and release CO2 in Texas A&M's frameworks are much smaller than in other carbon capture approaches, the amount of energy or stimulus that has to be diverted from coal-fired power plants to accomplish this is greatly reduced. The team is working to alter the materials so they bind only with CO2, and are stable enough to withstand the high temperatures found in the chimneys of coal-fired power plants.

The Boeing Company

A Case Study on the Impact of Additive Manufacturing for Heat/Mass Transfer Equipment used for Power Production

The Boeing Company is developing a next-generation air-cooled heat exchanger by leveraging technological advances in additive manufacturing (AM). The work builds on a previous ARPA-E IDEAS award to the University of Maryland that included the fabrication of geometrically complex heat exchanger coupons. Boeing subsequently demonstrated AM fabrication of thin-walled structures with a thickness of 125 to 150 microns, which represents a 50% reduction relative to then-state-of-the-art AM processes. The high temperature heat exchanger currently under development employs complex internal geometries to achieve an expected 20-30% improvement in thermal performance and up to 20% reduction in weight. Current manufacturing techniques include manual stacking of heat exchangers, brazing in a thermal vacuum chamber, and welding of external features. Each of these manufacturing steps is time consuming, expensive, and may damage the part. A validated AM process for heat exchangers could lead to fabrication cost savings well in excess of 25% by eliminating these steps. If successful, these high performance, lightweight heat exchangers would enable more energy-efficient aircraft. AM can also expand the design space for heat exchangers, enabling advanced designs that conform to challenging form factor requirements. Advances in efficient air-side cooling could also have significant spillover benefits in additional industries such as power plant and distributed energy systems, automotive, air-conditioning and refrigeration, power electronics, and chemical processing.

The Mackinac Technology Company

Retrofit System for Single Pane Glazing

The Mackinac Technology Company will develop an innovative, cost effective, retrofit window insulation system that will significantly reduce heat losses. The insulation system will use a durable window film that is highly transparent to visible light (more than 90% of light can pass through), but reflects thermal radiation back into the room and reduces heat loss in winter. The film will be microporous and breathable to allow air pressures to balance across the window system. The film will be bonded to a rigid frame that can be retrofitted to an existing single-pane glass window. Mackinac's pane assembly will maintain a wrinkle-free appearance over an anticipated 20-year product lifecycle. The system will be fire resistant and lightweight (less than two pounds per square foot of window pane), which will help reduce stress on existing window panes.

Titanium Metals Corp.

A Vision of an Electrochemical Cell to Produce Clean Titanium

Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET) is developing an electrochemical process for producing pure titanium powder. Incumbent titanium production processes require the importation of high-grade titanium ores. TIMET's groundbreaking design will enable the use of abundant, low-cost, domestic ore to produce titanium powder electrolytically. By totally revolutionizing the electrolysis process, TIMET can fully optimize the process more effectively using a unique approach. TIMET's electrochemical methods could produce higher quality titanium powder at lower cost and reduced energy consumption compared to the conventional Kroll process.

Transphorm, Inc.

High-Performance GaN HEMT Modules for Agile Power Electronics

Transphorm is developing transistors with gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors that could be used to make cost-effective, high-performance power converters for a variety of applications, including electric motor drives which transmit power to a motor. A transistor acts like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows around an electrical circuit. Most transistors today use low-cost silicon semiconductors to conduct electrical energy, but silicon transistors don't operate efficiently at high speeds and voltage levels. Transphorm is using GaN as a semiconductor material in its transistors because GaN performs better at higher voltages and frequencies, and it is more energy efficient than straight silicon. However, Transphorm is using inexpensive silicon as a base to help keep costs low. The company is also packaging its transistors with other electrical components that can operate quickly and efficiently at high power levels--increasing the overall efficiency of both the transistor and the entire motor drive.

Triton Systems, Inc.

New Technology for Single Pane Retrofit

Triton Systems will develop and demonstrate a high efficiency windowpane system that will encourage retrofitting of single-pane windows. Triton's Multifunctional Glazing System (MGS) will potentially provide a better balance of performance with cost and weight versus double-pane insulated glass units. The system combines a nanoparticle-polymer composite film with an insulating layer of a porous material filled with air, to provide thermal insulation. The team will enhance the pane's durability by incorporating a nanocomposite edge seal. The thickness of the MGS will be less than ¼ inch, ensuring its compatibility with most single-pane window sashes as a direct glazing replacement.

UHV Technologies, Inc.

Low-Cost High Throughput In-Line X-Ray Fluorescence Scrap Metal Sorter

UHV Technologies is developing a sorting technology that uses X-rays to distinguish between high-value metal alloys found in scrap of many shapes and sizes. Existing identification technologies rely on manual sorting of light metals, which can be inaccurate and slow. UHV's system will rapidly sort scrap metal passed over a conveyer belt, making it possible to lower metals waste while simultaneously increasing the quality of recycled metal alloys. By analyzing the light emitted from X-rayed metal pieces, UHV's probe is able to identify alloy compositions for automated sorting. By automating this process, UHV would significantly reduce the costs associated with recycling light metal scrap.

United Technologies Research Center

Additive Manufacturing of Optimized Ultra-High Efficiency Electric Machines

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is using additive manufacturing techniques to develop an ultra-high-efficiency electric motor for automobiles. The process and design does not rely on rare earth materials and sidesteps any associated supply concerns. Additive manufacturing uses a laser to deposit copper and insulation, layer-by-layer, instead of winding wires. EV motors rely heavily on permanent magnets, which are expensive given the high concentrations of rare earth material required to deliver the performance required in today's market. UTRC's efficient manufacturing method would produce motors that reduce electricity use and require less rare earth material. This project will also examine the application of additive manufacturing more widely for other energy systems, such as renewable power generators.

United Technologies Research Center

Power Conversion Through Novel Current Source Matrix Converter 

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) will develop a silicon carbide-based, single stage, 15 kW direct AC-to-AC (fixed frequency AC to variable frequency AC) power converter that avoids the need for an intermediate conversion to DC or energy storage circuit elements. The team seeks to build a device that weighs about half as much as available converters while demonstrating scalability for a broad power range (from kW to tens of MW) and achieving conversion efficiencies greater than 99%. If successful, the UTRC team will produce advances that help greatly reduce energy losses in a range of industrial applications. Industrial drives for electric motors alone account for approximately 40% of total U.S. electricity demand and incorporation of highly efficient variable-frequency drives, based on this technology, can reduce energy consumption by 10-30%. For aircraft power systems, electrical actuators built using this technology can enable longer, thinner, and lighter wings that result in 50% reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions when compared to current commercial aircraft. The project can also open new possibilities for electric locomotives and ship propulsion, thanks to the reduced weight and complexity of the converter.

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