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Efficiency

Cree, Inc.

15 kV SiC IGBT Power Modules for Grid-Scale Power Conversion

Cree is developing silicon carbide (SiC) power transistors that are 50% more energy efficient than traditional transistors. Transistors act like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon semiconductors to conduct electricity. However, transistors with SiC semiconductors operate at much higher temperatures, as well as higher voltage and power levels than their silicon counterparts. SiC-based transistors are also smaller and require less cooling than those made with traditional silicon power technology. Cree's SiC transistors will enable electrical circuits to handle higher power levels more efficiently, and they will result in much smaller and lighter electrical devices and power converters. Cree, an established leader in SiC technology, has already released a commercially available SiC transistor that can operate at up to 1,200 volts. The company has also demonstrated a utility-scale SiC transistor that operates at up to 15,000 volts.

CUNY Energy Institute

Metacapacitors

City University of New York (CUNY) Energy Institute is developing less expensive, more efficient, smaller, and longer-lasting power converters for energy-efficient LED lights. LEDs produce light more efficiently than incandescent lights and last significantly longer than compact fluorescent bulbs, but they require more sophisticated power converter technology, which increases their cost. LEDs need more sophisticated converters because they require a different type of power (low-voltage direct current, or DC) than what's generally supplied by power outlets. CUNY Energy Institute is developing sophisticated power converters for LEDs that contain capacitors made from new, nanoscale materials. Capacitors are electrical components that are used to store energy. CUNY Energy Institute's unique capacitors are configured with advanced power circuits to more efficiently control and convert power to the LED lighting source. They also eliminate the need for large magnetic components, instead relying on networks of capacitors that can be easily printed on plastic substrate. CUNY Energy Institute's prototype LED power converter already meets DOE's 2020 projections for the energy efficiency of LED power converters.

Dais Analytic Corporation

Nanotechnology Membrane-Based Dehumidifier

Dais Analytic Corporation is developing a product called NanoAir which dehumidifies the air entering a building to make air conditioning more energy efficient. The system uses a polymer membrane that allows moisture but not air to pass through it. A vacuum behind the membrane pulls water vapor from the air, and a second set of membranes releases the water vapor outside. The membrane's high selectivity translates into reduced energy consumption for dehumidification. Dais' design goals for NanoAir are the use of proprietary materials and processes and industry-standard installation techniques. NanoAir is also complementary to many other energy saving strategies, including energy recovery. Dais received a separate award of up to $800,000 from the Department of the Navy to help decrease military fuel use.

Dartmouth College

Nanocrystalline t-MnAl Permanent Magnets

Dartmouth College is developing specialized alloys with magnetic properties superior to the rare earths used in today's best magnets. EVs and renewable power generators typically use rare earths to turn the axles in their electric motors due to the magnetic strength of these minerals. However, rare earths are difficult and expensive to refine. Dartmouth will swap rare earths for a manganese-aluminum alloy that could demonstrate better performance and cost significantly less. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an easily scalable process that enables the widespread use of low-cost and abundant materials for the magnets used in EVs and renewable power generators.

Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC

Gallium-Nitride Advanced Power Semiconductor and Packaging

Delphi Automotive Systems is developing power converters that are smaller and more energy efficient, reliable, and cost-effective than current power converters. Power converters rely on power transistors which act like a very precisely controlled on-off switch, controlling the electrical energy flowing through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon (Si) semiconductors. However, Delphi is using semiconductors made with a thin layer of gallium-nitride (GaN) applied on top of the more conventional Si material. The GaN layer increases the energy efficiency of the power transistor and also enables the transistor to operate at much higher temperatures, voltages, and power-density levels compared to its Si counterpart. Delphi is packaging these high-performance GaN semiconductors with advanced electrical connections and a cooling system that extracts waste heat from both sides of the device to further increase the device's efficiency and allow more electrical current to flow through it. When combined with other electronic components on a circuit board, Delphi's GaN power transistor package will help improve the overall performance and cost-effectiveness of HEVs and EVs.

Dioxide Materials, Inc.

Energy Efficient Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into Useful Products

Dioxide Materials is developing technology to produce carbon monoxide, or "synthesis gas" electrochemically from CO2 emitted by power plants. Synthesis gas can be used as a feedstock for the production of industrial chemicals and liquid fuels. The current state-of-the-art process for capturing and removing CO2 from the flue gas of power plants is expensive and energy intensive, and therefore faces significant hurdles towards widespread implementation. The technologies being developed by Dioxide Materials aim to convert CO2 into something useful in an economical and practical way. The technology has the potential to create an entirely new industry where waste CO2--rather than oil--is used to produce gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and industrial chemicals.

Duke University

An Autonomous Coded Aperture Mini Mass Spectrometer (autoCAMMS) based Methane Sensing System

Duke University, in conjunction with its partners, will build a coded aperture miniature mass spectrometer environmental sensor (CAMMS-ES) for use in a methane monitoring system. The team will also develop search, location, and characterization algorithms. Duke will apply its recent innovations in mass spectrometers to increase the throughput of the spectrometer, providing continuous sampling without diminishing its resolution by integrating spatially coded apertures and corresponding reconstruction algorithms. The coded aperture will also provide advanced specificity and sensitivity for methane detection and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with natural gas production. Duke's innovations could provide low-cost, advanced sensors to localize and characterize methane and VOC emissions, helping to accelerate detection and mitigation of methane and VOC emissions at natural gas sites.

Duke University

Detecting Human Presence Using Dynamic Metasurface Antennas

Duke University will develop a residential sensor system that uses a dynamic meta-surface radar antenna design to determine occupancy in residential buildings. Traditional line-of-sight movement sensors suffer from high error rates. To increase accuracy, the Duke team will develop a sensor that monitors electromagnetic waveforms that are scattered both directly and indirectly off a person, eliminating the need for a direct line-of-sight between the sensor and the person. The sensor hardware continuously generates distinct microwave patterns to probe all corners of the house. Once a person enters a room, their motion changes the scattering statistics of the environment, which is used to establish real-time room occupancy. These characteristics are then analyzed using machine-learning techniques to establish human presence. The radar antenna can quickly sample an area and this information can be used to distinguish humans with the sensitivity to detect even stationary human's micro movements such as breathing. Further, the system operates at microwave frequencies, ensuring minimal concern for human safety. The proposed sensor does not require an internet connection or communication links, ensuring minimal security and privacy concerns. If successful, the system promises detection of occupants and near-zero false negative rate without any complex user interactions.

e Nova, Inc.

Waste Heat-Powered Gas Compressor

eNova is developing a gas compressor powered by waste heat from the exhaust of a gas turbine. A conventional gas turbine facility releases the exhaust heat produced during operation into the air--this heat is a waste by-product that can be used to improve power generation system efficiency. eNova's gas compressor converts the exhaust waste heat from the simple cycle gas turbine to compressed air for injection into the turbine, thereby lessening the burden on the turbine's air compressor. This new compressor design is ideal for use with a remote gas turbine--such as that typically used in the natural gas industry to compress pipeline natural gas--with limited options for waste heat recovery and access to high voltage power lines and water.

Eaton Corporation

SiC-Based Wireless Power Transformation for Data Centers & Medium Voltage Applications

Eaton will develop and validate a wireless-power-based computer server supply that enables distribution of medium voltage (AC or DC) throughout a datacenter and converts it to the 48V DC used by computer servers. Datacenters require multiple voltage conversions steps, reducing the efficiency of power distribution from the grid to the server. The converter will employ commercially available wide-bandgap power devices for both the medium-voltage transmitter circuit and the low-voltage receiver circuit, respectively. The heart of the medium voltage supply is the wireless power transfer transformer, which will eliminate the multiple conversion stages present at datacenter locations all while providing operators touch-safe isolation from the medium input voltage side. If successful, the technology can reduce U.S. datacenter energy consumption and operations costs. It will eliminate the need of some transformers and reduce copper use in conductors providing a significant cost and space savings when medium voltage distribution is used.

Eclipse Energy Systems, Inc.

Eclipse Shield

Eclipse Energy Systems will further develop its proprietary transparent electrical conductor material (EclipseTEC) for use in low-emissivity (low-e) window films. Transparent, low-emissivity coatings improve building energy efficiency by reducing heat loss through the windows. Over the course of the project, the team will transfer their present technology for depositing EclipseTEC films to scalable manufacturing processes while preserving the desirable optical and low-e properties. Eclipse will partner with one or more companies offering thermal insulation solutions and incorporate EclipseTEC into their panes and/or applied products. The unique combined system will offer significant energy savings over traditional single-pane windows.

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI)

Indirect Dry Cooling Using Recirculating Encapsulated Phase-Change Materials

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and its partners will design, fabricate, and demonstrate an indirect dry-cooling system that features a rotating mesh heat exchanger with encapsulated phase-change materials (PCMs) such as paraffin, which can absorb and reject heat efficiently. The novel system can be used downstream from a water-cooled steam surface condenser to cool water to a temperature near ambient air temperature, eliminating the need for a cooling tower. The team's design capitalizes on the high latent heat of the solid-to-liquid transition in the PCMs to provide an extremely effective way to lower the temperature of hot water exiting the condenser. The encapsulated PCMs are embedded in polymer tubes that form a porous, mesh-like structure. These modules are then mounted on a rotating system that continuously circulates the encapsulated PCMs from the hot water - where they absorb heat - into a dry section where ambient air passes by the encapsulated PCMs, causing the PCMs to solidify and reject heat to the atmosphere. The multidisciplinary team includes leading industry and academic partners that will provide technical and market assistance, and help build and test a 50 kWth prototype to demonstrate the technology's commercial viability.

Empower Semiconductor, Inc

Resonant Voltage Regulator Architecture Eliminates 30-50% Energy Consumption of Digital ICs

Empower Semiconductor will develop a new architecture for regulating voltage in integrated circuits (IC) like computer microprocessors. Empower's design will enable faster & more accurate power delivery than today's power management hardware. As transistors continue to shrink, the number of transistors per chip has increased, resulting in increased computing power. Existing Voltage Regulator ICs (VRICs) have not kept pace and deliver excessive (and wasted) power to these advanced digital ICs. The team has proposed a new resonant voltage regulator architecture based on silicon technology that can power digital ICs with 5x improved voltage regulation and 1,000x faster transient response. The increased regulation serves to eliminate excess voltage, which translates to significant energy savings. The dramatic increase in transient response enables dynamic voltage scaling which allows the digital IC to reduce its voltage within a few cycles when its full operation & voltage is not needed, thereby further conserving energy. If successful, these improvements in speed and accuracy translate to up to 50% reduction in energy consumption for a digital IC, while enabling a much smaller form factor and lower costs.

Endeveo, Inc

Hotspot Enabled Accurate Determination of Common Area Occupancy Using Network Tools (HEADCOUNT)

Endeveo will develop an occupancy sensor system to accurately determine the presence of occupants in residential buildings and enable temperature setbacks to provide energy savings of 30% per year. Their technique uses standard Wi-Fi-equipped devices, such as routers, to monitor an environment using the wireless channel state information (CSI) collected by these devices and occupancy-centric machine learning algorithms to determine occupancy from changes in CSI. The developed algorithms will distinguish between humans and pets, sense presence even when occupants are stationary for extended periods of time, and possess the flexibility to adapt to activities of daily living such as furniture being moved or opening doors. While their sensor hardware components use so-called "Wi-Fi protocols" to wirelessly probe an environment, they do not require nor utilize any internet access, Wi-Fi or otherwise. If successful, the system could offer cost-effective occupancy sensing to homes with and without internet service or broadband access.

Energy Research Company

Development of an Integrated Minimill for the Aluminum Industry: From Scrap to Product in One Step

Energy Research Company (ERCo) is developing an automated Aluminum Integrated Minimill (AIM) that can produce finished components from mixed metal scrap. Unlike most current approaches, ERCo's AIM can distinguish and accurately sort multiple grades of aluminum scrap for recycling. ERCo's AIM reduces energy consumption in several ways. First, the technology would provide real-time feedback controls to improve the accuracy of the sorting process. The sorted scrap is then melted and cast. Further, ERCo's design replaces the inefficient dryers used in conventional processes with advanced, high-efficiency equipment. ERCo's AIM enables significantly more efficient and less expensive scrap sorting and aluminum recovery for casting.

Fairfield Crystal Technology, LLC

High-Quality, Low-Cost GaN Single Crystal Substrates for High-Power Devices

Fairfield Crystal Technology will develop a new technique to accelerate the growth of gallium nitride (GaN) single-crystal boules. A boule is a large crystal that is cut into wafers and polished to provide a surface, or substrate, suitable for fabricating a semiconductor device. Fairfield Crystal Technology's unique boule-growth technique will rapidly produce superior-quality GaN crystal boules--overcoming the quality and growth-rate barriers typically associated with conventional growth techniques, including the current state-of-the-art hydride vapor phase epitaxy technique, and helping to significantly reduce manufacturing costs.

Gas Technology Institute

Dual Electrolyte Extraction Electro-Refinery for Light Metal Production

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is developing a continuously operating cell that produces low-cost aluminum powder using less energy than conventional methods. Conventional aluminum production is done by pumping huge electrical currents into a vat of molten aluminum dissolved in mineral salts at nearly 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. GTI's technology occurs near room temperature using reusable solvents to dissolve the ore. Because GTI's design relies on chemical dissolution rather than heat, its cells can operate at room temperature, meaning it does not suffer from wasteful thermal energy losses associated with conventional systems. GTI's electrochemical cell could also make aluminum production significantly less expensive by using less costly, domestically available ore with no drop in quality.

Gas Technology Institute

Reactor Engine

The team led by Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will develop a conventional automotive engine as a reactor to convert ethane into ethylene by using a new catalyst and reactor design that could enable record-breaking conversion yields. The technology proposed by GTI would use a reciprocating engine as a variable volume oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) reactor. This means a conventional engine would be modified with a new valving mechanism that would take advantage of high flow rates and high pressure and temperature regime that already exists in an internal combustion engine. This process requires no energy input, does produce minimal CO2 emissions, and improves yields to about 80% at one third the cost. The ODH reactor engine's relatively small size and high throughput will enable ethylene producers to add ethylene production capacity without the financial risk of building a billion-dollar steam cracking plant. This technology will reduce energy-related emissions and could enable the U.S. plastics industry to increase utilization of low-cost, domestic ethane to produce ethylene for plastics.

General Electric

Low-Cost Heat Pump with Advanced Refrigerant/Absorbent Separation

General Electric (GE) Global Research will design, manufacture, and test an absorption heat pump that can be used for supplemental dry cooling at thermoelectric power plants. The team's project features a novel, absorbent-enabled regenerator that doubles the coefficient of performance of conventional absorption heat pumps. The new absorbents demonstrate greater hygroscopic potential, or the ability to prevent evaporation. To remove heat and cool condenser water, these absorbents take in water vapor (refrigerant) and release the water as liquid during desorption without vaporization or boiling. GE's technology will use waste heat from the power plant's flue gas to drive the cooling system, eliminating the need for an additional power source. GE estimates the system will cost half that of conventional absorption heat pumps.

General Electric

CO2 Capture Process Using Phase-Changing Absorbents

General Electric (GE) Global Research and the University of Pittsburgh are developing a unique CO2 capture process in which a liquid absorbent changes into a solid upon contact with CO2. Once in solid form, the material can be separated and the CO2 can be released for storage by heating. Upon heating, the absorbent returns to its liquid form, where it can be reused to capture more CO2. The approach is more efficient than other solvent-based processes because it avoids the heating of extraneous solvents such as water. This ultimately leads to a lower cost of CO2 capture and will lower the additional cost to produce electricity for coal-fired power plants that retrofit their facilities to include this technology.

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