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  • Building Equipment Research Group Recognized for Heat Pump Work

    Recipient of 2017 Rittinger International Award

    A team of researchers from ORNL’s Building Equipment Research Group (BERG) was awarded the 2017 Peter Ritter von Rittinger International Heat Pump Award. The award recognized ORNL’s rich history of heat pump research and development though BERG, which has made significant contributions to increasing the efficiency of heat pump technologies for the past 40 years.

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  • ORNL’s Ultrasonic Clothes Dryer Dries Clothes in Half the Time

    Technology Relies on High-Frequency Vibrations

    Scientists at ORNL are taking a new approach to doing the laundry. The ultrasonic clothes dryer technology using vibrations to dry and transducers to shake the water out. The dryer is up to five times more efficient than current appliances, cutting drying time in half and leaving little lint behind.

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  • Viral Patel: Engineering A Better Everyday Life

    Research Provides Benefits to the Average Consumer

    Viral Patel came to Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the aim of conducting research that would provide benefits to the average consumer, and his work has not disappointed. Viral jumped into three energy efficiency projects almost immediately after starting at the lab as a postdoctoral researcher in the Energy and Transportation Science Division in 2015, working on development of two clothes dryers (one ultrasonic and the other thermoelectric) and a new, more efficient rotating heat exchanger for refrigerator applications.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • JUMP Recognized as Innovator for Innovation Management

    Online Crowdsourcing Community Identifies New Technologies

    Co-hosted by five national laboratories in the buildings sector and launched at ORNL, JUMP was recognized by IdeaScale as the winner for Best Moderation Strategy in the Innovation Management Awards Competition. JUMP developed a five-step repeatable process used in 13 calls for innovation, identifying 10 new technologies.

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  • BUILDING TECHNOLOGIES UPDATE NOW AVAILABLE

    NEWSLETTER HIGHLIGHTS CUTTING-EDGE RESEARCH

    ORNL’s summer issue of Building Technologies Update covers news and technical highlights associated with innovative building technologies and related research activities and projects, breaking new ground in energy efficiency.

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  • 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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  • JOIN INDUSTRY EXPERTS AT BUILDINGS XIII CONFERENCE

    HELP SOLVE MAJOR BUILDING ISSUES

    Since 1979, the “Buildings Conference” has taken place every three years to allow new research and technology applications to develop. Attendance is international and draws heavily on the advanced technical knowledge of global experts. Register now to join your colleagues December 4-8, 2016 in Clearwater, Florida to discuss the industry’s greatest achievements, and find solutions to major building issues.

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  • ULTRASONIC DRYER IS REVOLUTIONARY

    USES VIBRATIONS INSTEAD OF HEAT TO DRY CLOTHES

    Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and GE Appliances have developed an ultrasonic dryer that uses high-frequency vibrations, rather than heat, to dry clothes. This press dryer prototype releases moisture from fabric in the form of a cool mist, in half the time and using 70% less energy than conventional dryer technology. The team, led by Ayyoub Momen, is currently developing a clothes dryer drum for commercialization.

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  • NOVEL WATER HEATER PROMISES HIGH EFFICIENCY

    REDUCES COST AND COMPLEXITY OF TRADITIONAL SYSTEMS

    Scientists from ORNL and the University of Florida have developed a novel method that could yield lower-cost, higher-efficiency systems for water heating in residential buildings. This newly termed “semi-open” natural gas-fired design reduces the cost and complexity of traditional closed gas-fired absorption systems by streamlining, and even eliminating, certain components. This technology could result in better than 100% energy efficiency, since it draws energy from the surrounding air as well as from natural gas.

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  • WHITE HOUSE CITES ORNL-LED REPORT ON ALTERNATIVE REFRIGERANTS

    PHASING OUT HFC’S TO LIMIT GLOBAL TEMPERATURE INCREASE

    ORNL published a report that evaluated low-global warming potential alternative refrigerants in hot climates for rooftop air conditioners. It supports the US amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would phase down climate-damaging hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), and demonstrates that viable alternatives exist. As the global community’s most cost-effective action to avoid an additional 0.5°C warming by 2100, this research was highlighted in a White House fact sheet, and in a joint blog post by Energy Secretary Moniz and EPA Administrator McCarthy.

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  • DOE PLEDGES $19M FOR BUILDING EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS

    ORNL LEAD ON 4 OF 18 PROJECTS FOR SENSORS AND HVAC&R

    The Department of Energy will invest $19M on 18 projects that target a variety of building efficiency improvements. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is lead on four projects, and a partner on two others, more than any other national lab. Specifically, ORNL will develop architecture for a multi-sensor platform, adhesive chemistries for bonding metals in heat exchangers, further advance the GLIDES system, and develop a heat pump that uses an ammonia refrigerant.

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  • A "COOL" WAY TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

    REPORT FINDINGS TO IMPACT MONTREAL PROTOCOL AMENDMENT

    Omar Abdelaziz co-authored a report for DOE on “The Future of Air Conditioning for Buildings.” He travelled to Vienna to present the findings to aid world climate leaders, including Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy, and Secretary of State John Kerry, in discussions regarding next steps on a 2016 amendment of the Montreal Protocol to accelerate the phase down of climate-damaging hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigerants.

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  • ORNL TO RECEIVE $2.54M ARPA-E GRANT

    ONE OF 14 SHIELD AWARDS FOR WINDOW PANE RETROFITS

    ORNL, in partnership with Madico Inc. and Georgia Institute of Technology, has received an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) award to develop a low-cost, multilayer, highly transparent, and thermally insulating film for window applications. Led by Jaswinder Sharma, ORNL seeks to develop a film that improves thermal insulation, soundproofing, and condensation resistance. This is one of 14 projects awarded under the Single-pane Highly Insulating Efficient Lucid Designs (SHIELD) program to reduce the significant heat loss incurred from single-pane windows during winter.

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  • LIQUIDARMOR™ Wins 2016 Gold Edison Award

    BUILDING CONSTRUCTION & LIGHTING INNOVATIONS

    LIQUIDARMOR is a sprayable liquid sealant and flashing product that seals insulation joints and other cracks to improve overall management of thermal, moisture, and air quality in a building. The technology was created as part of a Dow Chemical and ORNL collaboration under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center for Building Energy Efficiency, or CERC-BEE. ORNL contributed to this award by providing the estimated energy savings from the implementation of this technology.

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  • LATEST BUILDING TECHNOLOGIES NEWSLETTER RELEASED

    HIGHLIGHTS CUTTING-EDGE RESEARCH

    The April 2016 issue of the Building Technologies Update covers the latest news and scientific discoveries associated with building energy efficiency solutions, and related research activities and projects.

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  • JUMP START YOUR SENSOR INNOVATION

    JOIN US AT THE INNOVATION JAMATHON

    Brainstorm, network, and pitch ideas at the JUMP Innovation Jamathon for Energy Efficient Building Technologies, part of the Chicago Innovation Exchange on July 14. We’re seeking ideas for sensors, phone apps, and platforms that change the way we interact with our homes. JUMP is an online crowdsourcing community for building technologies comprised of five national labs and industry partners that provides innovators with a path to accelerate the transition from tech-to-market for their energy-efficiency ideas.

    Register Here
  • SAVING ENERGY HELPS SAVE LIVES

    REDUCING ENERGY CONSUMPTION OF MILITARY B-HUTS

    During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one in eight US Army casualties occurred during an attack on a refueling convoy. ORNL researchers, led by Som Shrestha, are working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the energy consumption of barrack huts, or “B-Huts,” at forward operating bases. Using EnergyPlus, they have identified a final design that uses structural insulated panels which reduce construction time from a week to six hours and energy consumption by 40%, thus lessening the frequency that dangerous resupply missions are needed.

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  • AUTOTUNE NOW OPEN SOURCE

    AUTOMATICALLY CALIBRATES MODELS TO BUILDING ENERGY USE DATA

    Models of existing buildings are currently unreliable unless calibrated manually by a skilled professional. Autotune, as the name implies, automates this process by calibrating the model of an existing building to measured data, and is now available as open source software. This enables private businesses to incorporate Autotune into their products so that their customers can more effectively estimate cost savings of reduced energy consumption measures in existing buildings.

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  • BEST PRACTICES FOR WALL RETROFITS

    EVALUATING MASONRY CONSTRUCTION IN COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS

    A team of collaborators is researching various retrofit strategies for commercial buildings with masonry construction. The top-performing retrofit scenarios are being evaluated, spanning three seasons, using ORNL’s two-story flexible research platform. The field performance results will be used to identify best practice recommendations based on energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.

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  • BTRIC PARTICIPATES IN CALORICOOL™

    CONSORTIUM TO DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE REFRIGERANTS

    Omar Abdelaziz and his team will participate in a new consortium named CaloriCool™ that will develop alternative forms of refrigeration technologies, specifically caloric cooling. This new institute, led by Ames Laboratory, is one of four consortia that make up DOE’s Energy Materials Network recently announced at the White House.

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  • ORNL DELIVERS "GLIDES"

    GROUND-LEVEL INTEGRATED DIVERSE ENERGY STORAGE

    Since 2013, ORNL has been developing GLIDES, a low-cost energy storage system that hybridizes compressed air and pumped-hydro to store intermittent renewable energy at high efficiency. This technology is also flexible and scalable, and shows promise in both residential and commercial building applications.

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  • TOP DESIGN IDEAS RECOGNIZED

    ORNL Announced Winners at EERE Industry Day

    ORNL recognized the top design ideas in each of three categories - Equipment and Appliances, Sensors and Controls, and Envelope Technologies - during the lab’s first external crowdsourcing endeavor. The winners presented their ideas during the EERE Industry Day event hosted at ORNL. The next crowdsourcing campaign called JUMP was also launched during Industry Day.

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  • YES, IT’S 3D PRINTED!

    AMIE WELL RECEIVED DURING PUBLIC DEBUT

    Thousands of participants at the 2016 International Builders’ Show toured the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) house and printed utility vehicle, which were on display for the first time together outside of ORNL. AMIE was also the focal point of many media representatives eager to #MeetAMIE and spread the word about the future of integrated energy.

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  • Refrigeration projects make R&D 100 list

    ORNL and industry partners garner top recognition

    R&D Magazine has selected the Hillphoenix Advansor Transcritical Booster System in the Green Tech category and Honeywell’s Solstice N40 Refrigerant in the Mechanical Devices/Materials as R&D 100 Award finalists. Congratulations to ORNL’s Ed Vineyard, Omar Abdelaziz, Brian Fricke, Vishaldeep Sharma, and our industry partners. Winners will be announced in November 2015.

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  • Bringing Energy-Saving Innovations Home

    Twitter Chat on Storify

    Read all the great Q&A from Roderick Jackson’s recent Twitter chat, answering questions about how the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration has opened new opportunities in bringing energy-saving innovations home. @ORNLbuildings #AMIEchat

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  • Supermarket Savings

    Advanced refrigeration tech promotes clean energy

    ORNL researchers developed a new commercial refrigeration technology, the Second Nature® Advansor System by Hillphoenix, that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 78% compared to existing systems and lowers energy consumption by 25%.

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  • DOE INVESTS IN ORNL BUILDINGS R&D

    ORNL to lead 1, participate in 2 HVAC projects

    Buildings researchers will lead or participate in 3 of 7 projects recently funded by the DOE Building Technology Office. ORNL is involved in projects receiving $4.3 million for non-vapor compression technologies development - $2.2 million of which will be used for in-house research.

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  • TOP DESIGN IDEAS ANALYZED

    ORNL Will Announce Winners Soon

    ORNL’s Building Technologies Program had launched a new crowdsourcing application to gather and share ideas that could develop into the next big thing in energy efficient technical designs for building technologies. The site is now closed to new submissions, and a team of experts are currently analyzing the top ideas. Those ideas can still be viewed in the “Archived Campaigns” section of the crowdsourcing website.

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  • EERE, BTO Leaders Tour MAXLAB

    ORNL hosts Danielson, Risser; touts tech-to-market successes

    DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy David Danielson and Roland Risser, DOE’s Building Technologies Office director, visited ORNL where researchers showcased ground-breaking, energy-saving technologies developed in partnership with industry for residential and commercial building applications, including highly effective insulation materials, HFC-free refrigerants, and dryers that dry clothes without heat.

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  • BTRIC’s two-story flexible research platform at work

    Project with Samsung yields apples-to-apples comparison of HVACs

    Although variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pumps have several advantages, higher initial costs and difficulty in quantifying those benefits serve as deterrents to their widespread use. ORNL’s two-story flexible research platform (FRP-2), however, provides a solution that enables researchers to characterize real-world performance.

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  • Building Technologies Update now available

    Newsletter highlights cutting-edge research

    ORNL’s spring issue of Building Technologies Update covers news and technical highlights associated with innovative building technologies and related research activities and projects, breaking new ground in energy efficiency.

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  • Flipping the Switch

    Developing next-gen insulation material

    ORNL building technologies researchers and industry partners are using innovative manufacturing techniques to develop high-performance insulation materials that reduce energy loss without a high-cost premium.

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  • Heating Up

    NEUTRON IMAGING OF REFRIGERANT FLOW AIDS IN UNDERSTANDING HEAT TRANSFER

    ORNL researchers have captured undistorted snapshots of refrigerants flowing through small heat exchangers, helping to further elucidate characteristics of heat transfer in the process. The team used additive manufacturing and neutron imaging capabilities to examine microchannel heat exchangers, which hold refrigerants used to move thermal energy and provide cooling or heating in many applications.

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  • Supermarket Refrigeration Advances

    ORNL explores CO2 as environmentally friendly gas

    By experimenting with CO2 refrigerant systems and new refrigerant molecules, ORNL researchers look to mediate and minimize conventional refrigeration’s environmental footprint.

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  • ORNL R&D Graces ASHRAE Journal Cover

    "Living Lab" Platform for New Technologies

    An ORNL co-authored paper became the cover story for the Sept. issue of the ASHRAE Journal. The technical feature article titled, "Energy Performance for ASHRAE Headquarters," discusses the creation of a "living lab" with three types of mechanical systems that enable research on different technologies.

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  • DOE Invests in ORNL Buildings R&D

    ORNL to lead 6 new BTO-funded projects and participate in 2 others

    DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) awarded funding for 15 total projects, 8 of which include ORNL building technologies researchers, that will contribute to advancing early-stage, breakthrough energy-efficient solutions for buildings and homes. ORNL will lead 6 of these projects, partnering with industry, academia, and other national laboratories. It is anticipated that ORNL’s post-negotiation awards will total just shy of $6 million with about $4 million for research by ORNL.

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  • Research Homes Simulate Occupancy

    POPULAR SCIENCE FOCUSES ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECT

    A recent article in Popular Science provides an entertaining look into ORNL’s approach to simulating occupancy in three of TVA’s residential research homes. The project, which lasted six years, analyzed the real-world impact of energy efficient construction and appliances.

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  • Building Technologies Update now available

    Newsletter highlights cutting-edge research

    ORNL’s summer issue of Building Technologies Update covers news and technical highlights associated with innovative building technologies and related research activities and projects, breaking new ground in energy efficiency.

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  • UT-ORNL Gov Chair Enquist Announced

    Governor’s Chair in High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments

    Philip Enquist, leader for urban design and planning with Chicago-based architecture powerhouse Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, was named 16th University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair. Enquist will collaborate with ORNL's Build­ing Technologies Research and Integration Center. The center aims to push new energy-efficient building products to the market.

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  • ORNL shines in Top Inventions blog

    Building Technologies Office R&D becomes the norm

    ORNL buildings researchers were instrumental in collecting historical information for DOE’s blog post about the top four inventions that are helping homeowners save energy and money. The piece displays how many of the technologies that are considered the norm today started as emerging technologies decades ago, and how BTO is further advancing these technologies.

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  • Next-Gen Home Refrigeration

    ORNL, GE promote energy savings and simplified recycling

    Refrigerators featuring magnetic cooling and 20 percent greater efficiency are the product of a cooperative research and development agreement between GE Appliances and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. While the concept of magnetocaloric cooling has been around for many years, only since 2006 has GE explored using the technology for home refrigeration. In addition to energy savings and vastly simplified recycling at end of life, these refrigerators use no compressors or refrigerants that could be harmful to the environment. (Photo courtesy GE Appliances)

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  • New R&D House Evaluates Heat Pump

    Variable-Speed Air-Source Integrated Prototype

    ORNL’s new unoccupied research house provides a risk-reducing, whole building approach to realistic residential technology validation. Currently in the house, ORNL is evaluating a NORDYNE prototype variable-speed air-source integrated heat pump for space conditioning and water heating. Researchers implemented sensor technology that will collect data at regular intervals while the heat pump operates in a residential environment.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy