Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Media Relations (news@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL-developed technology earns DOE Energy Pioneer awards

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 22, 1995 — Three technologies developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have resulted in Energy Pioneer awards from the Department of Energy (DOE).

The awards were among a dozen for technologies or products that have been commercialized or are on the verge of commercialization because of joint research by DOE laboratories and the companies. Projects connected to ORNL, a DOE facility, resulted in more awards than did those associated with any other national laboratory.

Chand/Kare and ORNL researchers in the High Temperature Materials Lab used a $295,000 DOE contract to develop equipment and procedures that reduce the cost of ceramic automotive engine parts, which help reduce vehicle fuel consumption and emission levels. Chand/Kare, located in Worchester, Mass., has already added 40 new jobs and expects to add 40 more because of this project, in which ORNL is helping the U.S. auto industry become more competitive by helping develop more fuel-efficient vehicles and more durable parts.

Columbus Products and ORNL Energy Division researchers developed a high-efficiency compressor for household refrigerators that is 44 percent more energy-efficient than previous models. This technology, which consists of design changes to the motor, suction muffler and compressor valve assembly, was incorporated into product lines and transferred to Americold Compressor Co., located in Cullman, Ala., and Frigidaire of Dublin, Ohio. Americold Compressor makes compressors that have reduced refrigerator energy use from 1,300 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year to 900 kwh.

Between 1980 and 1990 the new energy-efficient refrigerator compressors saved U.S. consumers $6 billion in energy costs, according to DOE.

The third ORNL-led project involved the lab's Energy Division and Foster-Miller Associates (FMA), H.E. Butt Grocery and Friedrich Commercial Refrigeration. Researchers focused on reducing electricity consumption in supermarket refrigeration systems, which use nearly 2 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S.

Improvements in refrigeration systems cut energy use in U.S. supermarkets by 30 percent, reducing energy bills by about $4 billion since the mid-1980s. An improved microprocessor controller that modulates the compressor capacity to meet changing refrigeration loads accounted for about half of the efficiency gain. The remaining improvement came with further refinements developed by FMA and the Electric Power Research Institute. In addition to cost savings, the reduced energy consumption has avoided the emission of almost 10 million metric tons of carbon. About 80 percent of supermarkets now use the advanced system.

Among the technologies honored by DOE as "energy pioneers" are devices that prevent pollution, make automobiles more efficient, advance the economics of wind and solar power, reduce the cost of refrigeration, and save energy in steel and chemical manufacturing.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.