Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


New user facility dedicated at ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 17, 2002 — A facility to test distributed generation energy for building applications was designated today as the 20th national user facility at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

ORNL's Cooling, Heating and Power Integration Laboratory will enable researchers from industries, universities and other institutions to conduct tests on distributed energy products and systems.

User facilities allow researchers to conduct proprietary and nonproprietary work. They also encourage collaborative efforts among ORNL, private industry and other institutions. ORNL's Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development coordinates these efforts.

"This user facility is a key asset to DOE's efforts to develop advanced and cost effective distributed generation technologies," said Marilyn Brown, director of ORNL's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program.

Distributed generation is electricity produced on site using fuel cells, microturbines, renewable electric systems and other "prime movers." This type of power generation is creating a new industry of custom-designed programmable features to meet specific energy needs for factories, hospitals, office and commercial buildings, and other users of distributed power generation.

Distributed energy resources make use of energy normally wasted in the generation of power by combining electricity generation with heating and cooling systems.

Integrating building, cooling, heating and electricity systems with on-site or near-site electricity generation could increase energy efficiency by as much as 30 percent, reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent or more and improve indoor air quality through humidity control.

The laboratory contains a 30 kW microturbine, heat recovery units and dehumidifiers to test distributed energy sources and projects. The new user facility will enable developers of these projects to do performance and reliability testing.

Seven companies have been selected as industry partners to develop package systems, and some will be the first customers of the Cooling, Heating and Power Integration user center. They are Burns and McDonnell, the Gas Technology Institute, NiSource Energy Technologies, Capstone Turbine Corp., Honeywell Laboratories, United Technologies Research Center and Ingersol Rand.

ORNL has led an R&D program on heating, cooling and ventilating equipment since the early 1970s. This expertise is now being focused on technologies essential to successful CHP, including turning waste heat generated by power-producing equipment, such as microturbines or fuel cells into useful heat for thermally activated cooling and desiccant generation.

The facility designation was announced during a day-long distributed energy resources showcase held at ORNL.

ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

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Gail Beyersdorf Communications and Community Outreach Education Outreach 4500N, MS-6266, Room J245 Phone: (865) 241-9515; Fax: 241-6776 beyersdorfvg@ornl.gov .