Breaking New Ground
Capabilities And Apparatus
BETTER LEAK SEEKING
SYSTEM USES FLOURESCENT VITAMIN B2 TO TARGET AIR LEAKS
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a novel, nontoxic fluorescent air leak detection system that can find cracks in walls and roofs in existing and new buildings. The technology uses a humidifier to release a water-based solution of riboflavin, or Vitamin B2, supplement against a plywood wall with cracks. When the room is pressurized, tiny vitamin droplets accumulate at the leak points, and remain invisible until fluoresced under ultraviolet light. Repair of a leaky home could yield a $450 per year energy savings with a 2.5-year payback.
ROOF SAVINGS CALCULATOR WINS R&D 100 AWARD
WEB-BASED TOOL ESTIMATES ANNUAL ENERGY SAVINGS
Congratulations to the team of developers, including ORNL’s Joshua New and Bill Miller, for their Roof Savings Calculator Suite winning a 2016 R&D 100 Award. The calculator was developed as an industry-consensus tool to perform whole-building energy simulations on commercial and residential buildings. The web-based tool allows users to easily estimate annual energy cost savings achievable by installing cool roofing products on the most common building types in the U.S.
MONTREAL PROTOCOL AMENDMENT CITES ORNL’S REFRIGERANT RESEARCH
HFC PHASEOUT TO LIMIT GLOBAL TEMPERATURE INCREASE
World climate leaders will amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out potent greenhouse gas refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, and replace them with climate-friendly alternatives. This landmark decision relied on a series of reports, led by ORNL’s Omar Abdelaziz, that evaluated the viability of alternative refrigerants, and found they can provide better efficiency and cooling capacity than baseline refrigerants, and help avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century.
BUILDINGBOT RECEIVES SIEMENS-ORNL JUMP CHALLENGE AWARD
USES SMART PHONES TO INTERACT WITH BUILDINGS
The latest JUMP challenge award recipient is “Building Bot,” a technology that uses personal smart devices to leverage chat applications to enable building occupants to interact with the building facilities and systems for safety, comfort, way-finding, and improved energy efficiency. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash award, and may be eligible for future collaboration with Siemens and ORNL technical experts and an additional $20,000 of in-kind technical support to bring this new idea to market.
SPOTLIGHT: XIAOBING LIU
EVANGELIST OF GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS
Xiaobing Liu is passionate about geothermal heat pumps, which use energy stored in Earth’s crust to heat and cool buildings. As a child growing up in China, he was impressed with the comfort of Yao Dong, homes built into hillsides. This early exposure inspired him to make a career out of advancing GHP technology. After obtaining his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University, he became system engineering manager at ClimateMaster before joining Oak Ridge National Laboratory as lead GHP researcher. He says, "If we can send people to the moon, we can make drilling cheap."
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy