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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.

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.

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

A Field-Deployable Magnetic Resonance Imaging Rhizotron for Modeling and Enhancing Root Growth and Biogeochemical Function

Texas A&M AgriLife Research will develop low field magnetic resonance imaging (LF-MRI) instrumentation that can image intact soil-root systems. The system will measure root biomass, architecture, 3D mass distribution, and growth rate, and could be used for selection of ideal plant characteristics based on these root metrics. It will also have the ability to three-dimensionally image soil water content, a key property that drives root growth and exploration. Operating much like a MRI used in a medical setting, the system can function in the field without damaging plants, unlike traditional methods such as trenching, soil coring, and root excavation. The team will test two different approaches: an in-ground system shaped like a cylinder that can be inserted into the soil to surround the roots; and a coil device that can be deployed on the soil surface around the plant stem. If successful, these systems can help scientists better understand the root-water-soil interactions that drive processes such as nutrient uptake by crops, water use, and carbon management. This new information is crucial for the development of plants optimized for carbon sequestration without sacrificing economic yield. The project also aims to help develop ideal energy sorghum possessing high root growth rates, roots with more vertical angles, and roots that are more drought resistant and proliferate under water limiting conditions.

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.

Texas Engineering Experiment Station

Generating Electricity from Waste Heat Using Metal Hydrides

Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) is developing a system to generate electricity from low-temperature waste heat streams. Conventional waste heat recovery technology is proficient at harnessing energy from waste heat streams that are at a much higher temperature than ambient air. However, existing technology has not been developed to address lower temperature differences. The proposed system cycles between heating and cooling a metal hydride to produce a flow of pressurized hydrogen. This hydrogen flow is then used to generate electricity via a turbine generator. TEES's system has the potential to be more efficient than conventional waste heat recovery technologies based on its ability to harness smaller temperature differences than are necessary for conventional waste heat recovery.

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.

Tibbar Technologies

Plasma-Based Electrical Transformers 

Tibbar Technologies will develop plasma-based AC to DC converters for a variety of applications, including DC power for commercial buildings and for High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electrical transmission. A plasma is created when a gas absorbs enough energy to separate the electrons from the nuclei, making it susceptible to electric and magnetic fields. In this project the team will develop a converter based principally on a single plasma component, rather than a system of capacitors and semiconductor switches. The concept is based on a recently discovered plasma configuration that utilizes helical electrodes along the perimeter of the plasma chamber to induce a current along the axis of the plasma. The current induced along the axis produces an output voltage and current at the ends of the plasma chamber, which enables efficient conversion of AC to DC or DC to DC. The project team seeks to develop a robust, economical plasma device to convert 3-phase AC to high quality DC. These devices have the potential to be half the cost and yield power densities 10x higher than state-of-the-art converters, and have the potential to significantly improve electrical use efficiencies in power transmission, distribution, micro-grids, datacenters, and in large, electrified platforms for transportation such as ships and trains.

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.

Four-Quadrant GaN Switch Enabled Three-Phase Grid-Tied Microinverters

Transphorm is developing power switches for new types of inverters that improve the efficiency and reliability of converting energy from solar panels into useable electricity for the grid. Transistors act as fast switches and control the electrical energy that flows in an electrical circuit. Turning a transistor off opens the circuit and stops the flow of electrical current; turning it on closes the circuit and allows electrical current to flow. In this way a transistor can be used to convert DC from a solar panel into AC for use in a home. Transphorm's transistors will enable a single semiconductor device to switch electrical currents at high-voltage in both directions--making the inverter more compact and reliable. Transphorm is using Gallium Nitride (GaN) as a semiconductor material in its transistors instead of silicon, which is used in most conventional transistors, because GaN transistors have lower losses at higher voltages and switching frequencies.

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