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December 2009

ORNL 'deep retrofit' can cut home energy bills in half

Physorg.com
November 25, 2009

ORNL’s Jeff Christian points out the insulating foam used to seal the attic in a deep retrofit house.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced plans to conduct a series of deep energy retrofit research projects with the potential to improve the energy efficiency in selected homes by as much as 30 to 50 percent.

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The projects will be supported by up to $1.4 million from the Department of Energy's Building America Program, which has received additional funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Deep energy retrofits are renovations to existing structures that use the latest in energy-efficient materials and technologies and result in significant energy reductions. Jeff Christian, the ORNL buildings technologies researcher heading the project, said at least 10 homes across the region will be sought to participate. The home selection process is yet to be finalized, and homeowners will have to pay most of the costs—about $10 per square foot of living space—and agree to allow their post-retrofit to be monitored. But Christian said costs can be recovered in as little as 10 years, and energy bills potentially can be cut in half. Most important, data from the project can provide huge incentives for more deep retrofits across the region, he said.

"Deep retrofit is a fairly expensive upfront proposition, but can be one of the best investments available to many homeowners," said Christian, who also is a board member of the East Tennessee Quality Growth Council, which is helping lead the project. "We're targeting homes that are 15-35 years old—homes that are ready for new windows, heating and cooling units, appliances and maybe even solar panels to push their homes closer to near-zero energy consumption. Then we want to monitor these homes, analyze their energy consumption and celebrate the progressive vision of this region."

Christian said large efficiency gains via retrofitting were proven feasible on a test house in Knoxville last year. ORNL continues to collaborate with the Tennessee Valley Authority to better quantify the impact of deep retrofits at the Campbell Creek Energy Efficient Homes Research Project. The retrofits are part of an energy-efficient systems approach that involves making the building more air-tight; weatherizing the attic, crawl space and windows; upgrading heating and cooling units, water heaters, appliances and lighting; and installing solar panels.

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 "We're trying to look at what we can do with existing housing stock to improve the efficiency and also how we can influence new construction," said TVA researcher Bruce Rogers. "The deep retrofit project will enhance our research findings with results from additional homes in the Valley."

Christian explained many new two-story houses have a heat pump for downstairs and another in the attic for upstairs. Much of the cost of cooling conventional houses comes from the unit in the hot attic operating very inefficiently. In a retrofit house, insulation is removed from the attic floor. The roof and sides of the attic are sealed with insulating foam, and a high-efficiency heat pump is installed in the attic. The result: huge savings in heating and cooling because the entire HVAC system is inside the insulation layer.

Also, the system provides thermostats on both floors, but instead of operating two separate heat pumps, a single smarter unit directs heating or cooling where it's needed.

Christian said results of all of the retrofits will be available online, showing detailed data on the costs and benefits of the retrofits.

"This project connects our research to the surrounding community," Christian said. "We're hoping that this demonstration stimulates enough interest among members of the public that it will become self-sustaining—growing the number of houses with deep retrofits."

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (news : web)


November 2009

US Department of Energy

NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
(202) 586-4940
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Department of Energy Announces More Than $104 Million for National Laboratory Facilities

Eight Projects Will Support Growth of Clean Energy and Efficiency through Research, Development and Testing

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – While visiting Sandia National Laboratories, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today announced $104.7 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for eight new projects to establish critical research and testing facilities at seven DOE National Laboratories.  The projects will support the development and improvement of clean energy and efficiency technologies of strategic national interest. Specifically, the funding will go toward reducing the production cost of carbon fiber manufacturing, to help in reducing the weight of vehicles; improved efficiency and lower costs for car batteries; and net-zero energy building technologies. This effort will leverage the combined intellectual and technical resources of DOE National Laboratories to support technologies that will help transform the economy and create jobs, while decreasing carbon emissions.

“Our National Laboratories are national treasures and home to some of the best science in the world,” said Deputy Secretary Poneman. “As they have since the time of their founding, they are helping us meet the great challenges of our day, including our energy and climate challenges. Their innovation and ingenuity are helping jumpstart American manufacturing, accelerate job creation and lay the foundation for a clean energy economy.”
Projects announced today have been selected in three areas:

  • Carbon Fiber Manufacturing and Processing Technologies: Carbon fiber is a light weight, high-strength material that has the potential to revolutionize the automobile and wind industries.  Low-cost carbon fiber is critical to reducing the weight of vehicles and thereby raising their fuel efficiency, while maintaining the strength and safety found in steel autobodies. 
  • Advanced Battery Prototype Fabrication and Testing Facilities: Energy storage technologies, especially batteries and electric drive components, are critical enabling technologies for developing advanced, fuel-efficient vehicles and meeting the Administration’s goal of putting 1 million Plug-In Electric Vehicles on the road by 2015. 
  • Development of Integrated Building Systems: Buildings account for 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States.  Net-zero energy buildings – those that generate as much energy as they use on an annual basis through high efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation – are a key way to address and reduce these emissions.  New laboratory facilities will develop the technologies and design approaches that enable net-zero energy buildings (N-ZEB) at low incremental cost.

The Department of Energy solicited applications from eligible National Laboratories nationwide.  Applications underwent a thorough technical review process.

Laboratories selected today include:

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN) will receive $34.7 million for carbon fiber manufacturing and processing to construct the Carbon Fiber Technology Center.  The Center will investigate novel manufacturing processes and alternative feedstocks in order to lower the cost of carbon fiber from the current $10-$20 per pound to under $5 per pound. 
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN) will receive $20.2 million to develop an Integrated Net-Zero Energy Buildings Research Laboratory that includes a commercial building field research platform.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, CA) will receive $15.9 million to build and operate a National User Facility for Net-Zero Energy Buildings Research that will contain a series of coordinated integration test beds that address key technical challenges for net-zero energy buildings.
  • National Energy Technology Laboratory (Morgantown, WV) will receive $13.9 million to construct a 35,000 square foot Performance Verification Laboratory to perform nearly 17,000 verifications tests per year on a broad range of residential and commercial appliances.
  • Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne, IL) will receive $8.8 million to construct three battery research and development facilities:  a Battery Prototype Cell Fabrication Facility, a Materials Production Scale-Up Facility, and a Post-Test Analysis Facility.
  • Idaho National Laboratory (Idaho Falls, ID) will receive $5 million to establish a High Energy Battery Test Facility.  The High Energy Battery Test Facility will possess capabilities that will enable development of low cost batteries that meet real world performance requirements. 
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) will receive $4.2 million to modify and enhance its Battery Abuse Testing Laboratory. Abusive testing includes such conditions as over charging, over discharge, short circuits, fire and external heat exposure. The improved battery abuse testing facilities will possess capabilities critical for developing low cost batteries that meet real world performance requirements.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) will receive $2 million to establish a Battery Thermal and Life Test Facility. The Battery Thermal and Life Test Facility will enable researchers to develop lower cost, more robust battery thermal management systems and battery designs.

-DOE-

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October 2009

ORNL, Da Vinci Sign Licensing Agreement For Oil-Dilution Diagnostic Technology to Optimize Advanced Combustion Engines

Green Car Cingress (Energy, Technologies, Issues and Policies for Sustainable Mobility)
21 October 2009

UT-Battelle has licensed an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) technology for analyzing automotive engine oil to Da Vinci Emissions Services, Ltd., a Texas firm that specializes in a broad suite of combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy.

The licensed invention, known as “Laser-Induced Fluorescence Fiber Optic Probe Measurement of Oil Dilution by Fuel,” was developed by James E. Parks and William P. Partridge of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Group in ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division. The oil-dilution diagnostic grew out of a successful and ongoing CRADA, or cooperative research and development agreement, partnership between ORNL and Cummins Inc. The work is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies.

The device uses fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the amount of fuel dilution in engine oil, which can occur as fuel-efficient engines are operated in advanced combustion modes to meet increasingly lower emissions regulations. The condition thins the oil, lowers the lubricating ability, and can lead to higher engine wear, increased oil consumption, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Fuel dilution also is associated with modern diesel particulate filters, injection systems, and use of biodiesel fuels.

The ORNL-developed fluorescence measurement system provides real-time feedback on the fuel level in oil to engineers so that fuel efficient and low emission engine calibrations can be developed that prevent oil dilution from occurring.

ORNL’s technique is faster, cheaper, and capable of detecting fuel contamination in lower amounts than other methods. Conventional techniques require sampling and sending the oil to an analytical lab, resulting in up to two days delay for results.

DOE supports the development of advanced combustion engines that provide high efficiency and low emissions, but better diagnostic tools are required to realize these technology improvements. This technology and its transfer to the private marketplace through Da Vinci will hasten development of these advanced engine systems that meet DOE goals.

—James E. Parks

The oil dilution probe was developed in the Fuels, Engines, & Emissions Research Center, a comprehensive laboratory for internal combustion engine technology and one of DOE’s National User Centers at ORNL.

Licensing this technology enhances Da Vinci’s ability to help engine manufacturers build more environmentally clean engines with reduced oil consumption, less catastrophic wear, no oil leakages, extended oil change intervals, less fouling of exhaust treatment systems, and fewer emissions.

—Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund

ORNL, Da Vinci Sign Licensing Agreement

Special to the Oak Ridger
Posted Oct 22, 2009 @ 09:00 AM

An ORNL technology for testing engine oil has been licensed to Da Vinci Emissions Services Ltd. Seated from left are ORNL Partnerships Director Tom Ballard and Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund. Standing are Johney Green, ORNL Energy and Transportation Science Division; David Sims, Partnerships; and James Parks and Bill Partridge, both of Energy and Transportation Science Division.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — An Oak Ridge National Laboratory technology for analyzing automotive engine oil has been licensed to a Texas firm specializing in a broad suite of combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing services and equipment.

The technology transfer took place during a recent patent license signing ceremony between UT-Battelle and Da Vinci Emissions Services Ltd. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy; Da Vinci is a combustion engine emissions testing firm founded in 2005 in San Antonio.

The licensed invention, known as ''Laser-Induced Fluorescence Fiber Optic Probe Measurement of Oil Dilution by Fuel,'' was developed by James E. Parks and William P. Partridge of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Group in ORNL's Energy and Transportation Science Division. The oil-dilution diagnostic grew out of a highly successful and ongoing CRADA, or cooperative research and development agreement, partnership between ORNL and Cummins Inc.

The work is sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies.

The device uses fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the amount of fuel dilution in engine oil, which can occur as fuel efficient engines are operated in advanced combustion modes to meet increasingly lower emissions regulations. The condition thins the oil, lowers the lubricating ability and can lead to higher engine wear, increased oil consumption, and in extreme cases, engine failure. Fuel dilution also is associated with modern diesel particulate filters, injection systems and use of biodiesel fuels.

The ORNL-developed fluorescence measurement system provides real-time feedback on the fuel level in oil to engineers so fuel efficient and low emission engine calibrations can be developed to prevent oil dilution from occurring.

ORNL's technique is faster, cheaper, and capable of detecting fuel contamination in lower amounts than other methods. Conventional techniques require sampling and sending the oil to an analytical lab, resulting in up to two days delay for results.

''DOE supports the development of advanced combustion engines that provide high efficiency and low emissions, but better diagnostic tools are required to realize these technology improvements,'' Parks stated in an Oct. 20 press release.

''This technology and its transfer to the private marketplace through Da Vinci will hasten development of these advanced engine systems that meet DOE goals.''

Da Vinci CEO Kent Froelund called the invention ''a perfect fit'' for his company, which specializes in internal combustion engine lubrication and emissions testing, such as providing engine manufacturers with real-time oil consumption measurements.

''Licensing this technology enhances Da Vinci's ability to help engine manufacturers build more environmentally clean engines with reduced oil consumption, less catastrophic wear, no oil leakages, extended oil change intervals, less fouling of exhaust treatment systems and fewer emissions,'' Froelund said.

As previously referenced, the oil dilution probe was developed in the Fuels, Engines, & Emissions Research Center, a comprehensive laboratory for internal combustion engine technology and one of DOE's National User Centers at ORNL.


August 2009

Brass: State taking Electric Car, Solar Lead

Larisa Brass

By Larisa Brass (Knoxville News Sentinel)
Posted Aug 11, 2009

Already on the national radar in the up-and-coming solar industry, Tennessee is now among the go-to states for electric vehicle deployment — and the two are not unrelated.

Last week the Department of Energy announced a nearly

$100 million grant to Arizona-based ECOtality, which will use the funds via a subsidiary — Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. or eTec — to establish a charging infrastructure for electric cars now in development at Nissan. The company, with U.S. headquarters in Nashville, has announced it will put all-electric vehicles on the road by 2010 and has partnered with the state to test the infrastructure needed for the new technology.

Tennessee is among five states that will receive ECOtality-built charging stations, both for private home and public use at places of work, shopping centers or other locations. The company will partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to configure and erect solar-powered charging stations in an effort to prevent overtaxing the existing power structure by tapping the sun’s rays.

The lab will likely get about

$15 million in funding for the project, although project specifics are still being worked out, according to Dana Christensen, associate laboratory director for energy and engineering sciences at ORNL.

While electric vehicle owners’ primary charging stations would be located at home, others would be set up to allow drivers to “top off” their batteries while at work or running errands, he said.

“We’ve got an initial design for 10 cars in a pod and, depending on how the dollars work out, we’ll (equip) between a dozen and 20 pods … maybe as many as 200 parking spots,” he said. One will be located at Nissan’s Smyrna headquarters and another will likely be located at ORNL, where Christensen said many employees already have expressed an interest in purchasing a Nissan vehicle. The lab also will include electric vehicles in its own fleet, he said. The location of other charging stations across the state are in the works.

With the charging technology already developed by ECOtalilty and commercial solar panels readily available, the lab will be working on connecting the two for a new purpose, Christensen said.

“The power electronics and the connectivity of those systems is the problem,” he said. Some systems will feature solar panels only, he said, while others will include battery banks to store electricity generated by the sun. Technology must be developed to effectively connect the charger to the battery bank as well as to the grid and interface seamlessly with the car at the same time.

ORNL researchers also will work with ECOtality and TVA, another partner, to determine the charging patterns of electric car owners and what preparation must be made for a potential mass of plug-in vehicles to come. The project will help answer questions such as, “Do they (utilities) need more smart metering? Do they have to tell you to go charge the car at midnight when the power is low?” Christensen said.

The project, he said, gives Tennessee a front-row seat in what could amount to one of the biggest technology transitions in automobile history.

“This is the most significant turnover in our surface transportation since the introduction of the internal combustion engine over 100 years ago,” Christensen said.

Larisa Brass is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.


ORNL to Support Nissan's Plan to Build 5,000 Short Haul Electric Cars

Nissan's plan to build 5,000 short-haul electric cars with a range of 100 miles will get a boost from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The laboratory will help to provide a solar power infrastructure to relieve the nation's electric grid power supply, according to ORNL's Dana Christensen.

"If we have lots of cars that plug into the grid all at once, it would put a huge demand on the grid, damage the grid or take out portions of the grid," said Christiansen, ORNL's associate laboratory director for energy and engineering sciences. "What the laboratory has proposed to do is to look at how we can buffer that impact onto the electric grid. That buffer would come in the form of providing solar recharging stations."

Christensen said there are alternatives to regular solar recharging stations.

"An alternative would be to actually charge battery packs on ground," Christian said. "When you drove you car up, you could recharge your car off the battery pack. Another variant would be to actually have that solar panel connected to the grid so that when the cars are not present, electricity would be produced by the solar panel and put onto the grid and could be used for normal activities."

Christensen says the new electric vehicles could be on the road between the next 6 to 18 months.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

Posted Aug 9, 2009 (AZo Journal of Materials)


July 2009

Engineer Studying Hurricane Damage

Photo by Julio Cortez//Houston Chronicle/AP

Kara Bridwell, 26, left, and her brother Paul Bisso, 17, stand on the roof of a neighbor’s house on Sept. 14, 2008, in Surfside Beach, Texas, after Hurricane Ike washed away the home. ORNL aeronautical engineer Andre Desjarlais went to Houston last year as part of a team from the roofing industry to study the damage left by Ike.

OAK RIDGE - As we enter the hurricane season for 2009, building researchers are still learning from hurricanes of the past - including last September's Hurricane Ike.

Andre Desjarlais, an aeronautical engineer who heads Oak Ridge National Laboratory's building envelopes research group, traveled to the Houston area last fall as part of a team from the roofing industry to study damage from Ike, which hit Texas.

Desjarlais' work focused on the vulnerability of buildings with large open areas, such as a garage or loading dock.

The ORNL researcher said high winds may cause those buildings to lose their roofs or suffer unusual damage, even if the construction meets up-to-date building codes. The door to a garage or other open spaces is usually the first to fail, creating additional stress on the building, he said.

"What happens is the door mechanisms are typically not designed to withstand the force of a hurricane," Desjarlais. "The railings are not attached to the frame of the building securely enough to maintain the doorway in place for the brunt of the storm. So the doorway will blow in, and then the building begins to pressurize."

As winds rush in, the air pressure pushes the roof up, the ORNL engineer said. That stress amplifies the "sucking effect" of winds blowing over the building's roof, he said.

"The higher the speed of the wind, the higher the pull-up force on the room," he said. "You add another force, another load on the roof, and typically the combination of those two forces is beyond the attachment means of the roof. … Buildings are designed to withstand the sucking force, but not the combination."

That's why it's not uncommon to see commercial buildings or houses where only the section of roof over a garage or loading dock is missing following a storm, Desjarlais said.

Desjarlais has studied on-the-scene destruction from at least five hurricanes, including Katrina, as well as a couple of tornadoes and other storms.

The damage from Ike when it reached the upper Texas coast wasn't as bad as it could have been, he said, because the strongest winds are always on the eastern side of a storm's eye. Hurricane Ike skirted Houston to the east, where there was much less development, he said.

The Houston area was mostly hit by weaker winds on the west side of the eye, but still there were lessons to be learned, he said.

"You go into a neighborhood and there are 10 buildings with no damage, and one does (have damage)," Desjarlais said. "Why did this one not survive?"

In a reverse situation, when there are few surviving structures, researchers study the positive elements that allowed a building to withstand the worst that Mother Nature could throw at it.

There were two recurring themes in assessing Ike's damage, Desjarlais said.

One was the damage related to buildings with "large apertures," such as a garage, and the other was the impact on buildings that had not been properly maintained, he said.

Building maintenance is always an issue during major storms, he said.

"Just because you design and construct buildings to withstand these storms, they still have to be maintained - especially in the Southeast where you see a lot of metal corrosion because the South is so hot and humid," the Oak Ridge researcher said.

Twenty years after construction, the integrity of many buildings can be compromised by deterioration, he said.

"Codes don't require us to go back and fix everything," he said. "We always test (for compliance with building standards) when they're brand-new."

With increasing emphasis on energy efficiency, researchers at ORNL's Buildings Technology Center are studying the potential impact of energy conservation on a building's storm-worthiness.

"Are we marching blindly down a path where buildings become more energy efficient but can't withstand wind storms anymore? If we start seeing buildings fail, is it because of what we advocated?" Desjarlais said.

Fortunately, he said, the answer is, "Not yet."

But researchers are looking closely at new building codes proposed for 2010, which probably will increase the building insulation levels by 50 percent, he said.

"Suddenly you have longer screws and fasteners holding things together," the engineer said. "We need to rethink the structure, and we want to make sure we don't forget our lessons."

Senior writer Frank Munger may be reached at 865-342-6329. (Knoxville News Sentinel - July 12, 2009)

Related Links:

Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues

ORNL's Buildings Technology Center


Green Car Congress

http://www.greencarcongress.com/


Grid expert Liu named UT-ORNL Governor's Chair

Grid expert Liu named UT-ORNL Governor's Chair
Liu

Power grid technologies expert Yilu Liu is the fourth member of the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor's Chair.

Liu currently directs the Center for Power Engineering at Virginia Tech. She will hold appointments at ORNL's Energy & Transportation Science Division and UT's department of electrical engineering and computer science.

The Governor's Chair program attracts accomplished researchers around the world in effort to boost joint research. The partnership leads in fields of biological science, computational science, advanced materials and neutron science. ORNL's Electric Grid Research and Development Program conducts about $20 million in research each year.

While developing ways to monitor and understand the flow of energy through the nation's power grid on a large scale, Liu researches ways to develop the "smart grid," a term describing the next generation of electric transmission technology that will move energy more efficiently and effectively.

"A smarter, more efficient power grid is vital to the nation's energy plan and a key part of ORNL's research portfolio," says ORNL Director Thom Mason. "Dr. Liu's work will greatly strengthen our scientific efforts to address this energy challenge."


KAT, H.T. Hackney team with ORNL on project

Photo by ADAM BRIMER

Helmut E. Knee, group leader of transportation technology with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Research Program, stands in a bus in the Knoxville Area Transit service bay next to the data acquisition system that he helped design. The equipment will gather 60 sets of data from the buses in a study of fuel efficiency, emissions and safety.

Knox Area Transit and H.T. Hackney Co. are working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a project to install data collection systems on buses and trucks, hoping to get information that will help improve fuel efficiency, cut emissions and improve safety.

KAT and H.T. Hackney, a regional wholesaler of grocery products with headquarters in Knoxville and its main distribution center in Roane County, hope to use the data to analyze speed, load, types of terrain, tire and brake wear and other variables to improve routes, driving techniques and other procedures.

ORNL also wants to get a bank of "real world" data that will be helpful in evaluating the benefits of hybrid vehicle technology. Three KAT buses and three of Hackney's medium-duty trucks have been fitted with $35,000 in equipment to measure 60 sets of data from the buses and about 80 sets from the trucks.

"This will be a 12-month program," said Helmut E. Knee, group leader of transportation technology with ORNL's Heavy Vehicle Safety Research Program. "We are going to get a lot of data. The research community always has a hunger for data collected from real-world performance."

As the buses travel their routes, ORNL will be able to monitor fuel consumption as the loads shift from passengers getting on and off, as buses go up and down hills, make turns and stop, speed up or slow down. ORNL will track the vehicles by global positioning satellite systems and use equipment it developed for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to receive data from the bus in "real time."

On the H.T. Hackney Co. trucks, ORNL will be able to get similar data plus information on tire and brake wear, to be provided to FMCSA for safety analysis.

Bryan Trentham with H.T. Hackney said the company already gets a lot of information from messaging and satellite locator systems installed in its fleet, but the ORNL project will provide even more.

"We are open to any kind of information that can help with efficiency," he said.

In addition to using the data to boost fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, KAT and ORNL also see the project as a springboard to get stimulus funds available for transit companies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Si McMurray, chief maintenance officer with KAT, said KAT and ORNL plan to seek a share of $100 million available through the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction fund. With the ORNL study as the basis, the plan is to apply for funds so that KAT can replace 20 aging buses with 20 hybrid buses, allowing ORNL to expand its study and allowing KAT to work with the University of Tennessee to develop a program for teaching energy-efficient driving techniques for KAT's drivers, McMurray said.

McMurray said bus companies across America will apply for these funds, but KAT has an advantage over most.

"I certainly think that we have a competitive edge because of our partnership with ORNL," he said.

If the grant money is approved and KAT gets the hybrid buses, ORNL will expand its study to compare the hybrid buses with the regular diesel KAT buses.

"Once we start getting the new hybrid-bus data, we will start comparing it," Knee said. "We might find that there are particular routes that are better suited for hybrid buses than traditional buses. Hybrid is generally better in stop-and-go traffic and hilly routes."

If the grant is approved, KAT probably will have the hybrid buses by February, Knee said. Looking beyond to 2011, ORNL has an even bigger project in mind.

It wants to work with several companies that have large fleets of trucks. Instead of collecting 60 or 80 sets of data, ORNL may only try to get five or six critical sets, but on thousands of trucks, Knee said. Such a large study could have national significance, he said.

"We are trying to settle the question of whether a fleet of hybrid vehicles is more economical than a fleet of traditional vehicles," he said.

Business writer Ed Marcum may be reached at 865-342-6267. (Knoxville News Sentinel - July 7, 2009)


June 2009

Center for Transportation Analysis by Pat Hu

Center for Transportation Analysis Lecture Series

Dr. Jack Wells
Chief Economist, USDOT
June 19, 2009
Building 4500N, Weinberg Auditorium

The Administration's Transportation Priorities and the
Implications for Research and Analysis

9:00 am – 10:00 am
4500N, Weinberg Auditorium
Host: Pat Hu (hups@ornl.gov), (865)946-1349

Abstract
The Obama Administration is setting the following key transportation priorities in order to build a safe, clean and smart transportation system for the 21st Century:

  • Economic recovery
  • Energy conservation
  • Environmental protection
  • Slowing climate change
  • Attention to distributional impacts
  • Impacts on livability and community
  • Improving transportation security

In his presentation, Dr. Wells will discuss these priorities and highlight some of the program and funding implications, as well as implications for research and analysis. 

Biographical Sketch
John V. (“Jack”) Wells is the Director of the Office of Economic and Strategic Analysis in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).  Dr. Wells has been the USDOT Chief Economist since November 2004.  He was previously (from 2001-2004) Chief Economist at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).  Dr. Wells was formerly the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (2000–2001), Democratic Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Railroads (1995–2000), and Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee (1993–1995).  From 1979 to 1993 he was an economist at the U.S. General Accounting Office, working on a wide range of issues in transportation, regulation, and science and technology.  From 1975 to 1979 Dr. Wells was Assistant Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Dr. Wells has a B.A. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Yale University, both in Economics.

Dr. Jack Wells' presentation


Reprinted from: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -- WEEKLY REPORT -- June 12, 2009

Office of Vehicle Technologies Program
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Identifies Cylinder-to-Cylinder Differences in Particle Emissions
Researchers at ORNL have developed an optical backscatter probe to characterize the amount of particulate matter (PM) emitted by individual cylinders of a multi-cylinder engine. The ability to rapidly monitor PM variations from each cylinder is valuable as it enables engine calibrators to balance cylinder combustion to minimize emissions while maximizing fuel efficiency. The probe, based on fiber optics, is relatively non-invasive and allows sampling at various points in the exhaust manifold through a quarter-inch diameter port.  Cycle-resolved measurement of each cylinder’s specific PM plumes have been demonstrated in the exhaust manifold (pre-turbocharger) of a light-duty four-cylinder engine at ORNL’s Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center. This development was performed in conjunction with Cummins Inc. in a DOE-funded Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). 
Media Interest:  Trade press
Program Contact:  Gurpreet Singh, 202-586-2333


Power Electronics and Electrical Power Systems Research Center by Mitchell Olszewski

GE and ORNL Partner on Hybrid Water Heaters

About 400 jobs will be created at a Louisville General Electric plant where a new electric water heater will be built.

The technology was developed through a collaboration between the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and GE. Oak Ridge's Patrick Hughes said the water heater will benefit consumers with its energy efficiency and cost savings.

"It will give you as much hot water and have the same recovery times so you won't run out of hot water, but it will use half the energy to do so," Hughes said. "A typical family of four based on national averages would save between $250 to $300 per year. The device will qualify for the personal tax credits. It will pay for itself in about three years."

Hughes hopes that as word spreads about the new efficiency doubling water heaters, demand will skyrocket.

"Annually, about four and a half to five million electric storage water heaters are shipped," Hughes said. "Given that now when this becomes commercially available, I would hope that there would be a growth in the share of those four to five million units that become hybrid electric water heaters that provide the same amenity, but use half the energy while doing it."

GE's hybrid electric water heaters may be available to consumers as early as October and production starts in Louisville in 2011.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

Posted Jun 5, 2009 (AZo Journal of Materials)


ORNL Scientists developing more fuel efficient, cleaner cars
Posted: June 3, 2009

By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter (WATE.COM)

OAK RIDGE (WATE) -- Scientists and engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are investing time and money into project that could produce cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars, as U.S. automakers struggle financially.

As 6 News reported two weeks ago, President Obama has given automakers until 2016 to conform to strict national standards for fuel efficiency to save energy and protect the climate.

"What you're looking at is a dynamometer, which is a treadmill for cars," says Tim Theiss, a manager at Fuels, Engines and Emissions Research Center.

Theiss points out a Dodge Charger scientists are using to test kits meant to covert regular car engines to run on ethanol. Most of that information is coming right out of the pipes.

"All the equipment you're seeing around us allows us to measure normal pollutants and the unregulated pollutants that maybe more toxic," Theiss says.

Not only is ORNL's research aimed at improving biofuels and reducing emissions, scientists are advancing engines, developing hybrids and creating cost-effective, environmentally sound materials that will help create the cars of the future.

"It's not going to be easy. We don't have one single solution so we have to work on a suite of technologies," says Richard Boeman, director of the Transportation Program at ORNL.

Inside one of the numerous labs, scientists are trying to develop a material to be used for car parts that's as strong as steel. but much lighter in weights so the vehicle can be more fuel efficient.

With much of the U.S. auto industry in the red, Boeman says ORNL plays an even greater role in its partnerships with car and gas companies.

Boeman says much of the technology being tested in ORNL's labs could produce cars that far surpass President Obama's terms, which raise the average fuel economy standards for cars and trucks by 2016.

Under the changes, the overall fleet average would have to be 35.5 mpg by 2016, with cars reaching 39 mpg and light trucks hitting 30 mpg.

"We are the largest funded program within the DOE system and we have seen boosts in our funding," says Boeman.

While he admits some technologies might take years to develop, Boeman says small advances under the hood have been adding up and will ultimately help develop cars Americans want and need.  

If President Obama's proposal works it would save close to 2 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.

It would be similar to removing 177 million cars from the roads over the next six-and-a-half years.

Before the proposal, automakers were dealing with a patchwork of state laws.

In Tennessee, there are no state laws governing vehicle emissions. They vary by county.

More on the Web
ORNL Vehicle Technologies Program


May 2009

Power Electronics and Electrical Power Systems Research Center by Mitchell Olszewski

May 19, 2009 -- Oak Ridge scientists working to meeting Obama's vehicle standards


Power Electronics and Electrical Power Systems Research Center

WATE Interview

On May 19 Mitch Olszewski was interviewed by WATE TV regarding the announcement by the Obama administration raising the efficiency standards for automobiles and light duty trucks.  The interview focused on ORNL activities in the power electronics and electric motors area that could contribute to achieving the fuel efficiency standards required in 2016.  The interview piece was aired at 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm that day.  The progress in inverters, converters, and motors achieved by ORNL was highlighted.   The interview also pointed to the fact that to meet the higher efficiency standards will require hybrid electric vehicles (such as the Ford Escape) be a large fraction of the vehicle fleet.  To make this an option favored by the consumer will require significant decreases in the cost for the electric traction drive systems and the ORNL work will provide opportunities to capture cost savings.


John Kueck was requested by the Energy Foundation to prepare a report on "A Review of Barriers and Opportunities for the Integration of Renewable Energy Resources in the South East."  John will be working with Ben McConnell and Stan Hadley to prepare the report.  A unique aspect of the report will be the potential for biomass in the South East, this portion of the work will be done by Tristam West in Biology and Environmental Sciences.  A description of existing base of renewable electricity installations in the region will be given. The possible barriers and considerations for renewable energy resources will be listed in terms of availability, investment and maintenance costs, reliability, installation requirements, policies, and energy market.  In Phase 1, a summary report based on a literature review will be prepared.  In Phase 2, a systematic cost analysis, using NEMS, will be performed of the various generation options.   A coordination meeting was held at Georgia Tech on May 29 to coordinate this work with concurrent reports being prepared by Duke, Georgia Tech and EPRI.


ZEBRAlliance Project Progress

The initial project of the Zero Energy Building Research Alliance (ZEBRAlliance) is in full swing. The project is a public/private partnership between ORNL and Schaad Companies. Schaad is sponsoring the land, bricks and mortar for four research houses and ORNL is being sponsored by DOE and TVA to share expertise and expand the collaboration to include ORNL’s industry partners, many of whom are providing in-kind engineering assistance and their latest (in some cases pre-commercial) technologies. The pie chart below acknowledges the relative contributions of sponsors for the project as of FY 2008-09. The project will demonstrate four different strategies for achieving full-sized, appealing homes that use half the energy yet cost the same to own and operate. Cost neutrality is possible when lower utility bills offset the incrementally higher mortgage. The project also strives to educate consumers to increase demand for such homes, and to educate builders and contractors so the market place can deliver them. A web site (www.zebralliance.com) has been established to support the education mission of the project. Contact: Patrick Hughes, 865-574-9337, hughespj1@ornl.gov; William Miller, 865-574-2013, millerwa1@ornl.gov.


Reprinted from: Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy -- WEEKLY REPORT -- May 15, 2009

Office of Vehicle Technologies Program
12th CLEERS (Cross-Cut Lean Exhaust Emissions Reduction Simulations) Workshop. Deerborn, MI, April 28-30.
Developments in emission control technologies were discussed at the 12th CLEERS Workshop in Dearborn, MI on April 28-30, organized by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, General Motors, and others.  There were approximately 100 attendees from industry, universities and national labs. In addition to focusing on diesel particle filters and catalytic nitrogen oxides control, a special panel discussion of on-board diagnostics (OBD) for diesel engines was held that included industry representative presentations on this critical subject.  OBD is generally seen as a very challenging task that will affect all aspects of future engine system design; activities presented at CLEERS will aid OBD compliance and system efficiency improvements by providing fundamental mechanisms and models to assist OBD approaches. 
Media Interest:  None
Program Contacts:  Gurpreet Singh, 202-586- 2333; Ken Howden, 202-586-3631


Commercial Motor Vehicle Research Government Agency Synergy Meeting

The first commercial motor vehicle (CMV) research synergy meeting was held at the Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters in Washington, DC on March 24, 2009.  The purpose of the meeting was to initiate sharing of information on CMV research and to seek collaborative inter-agency research opportunities.  The meeting was attended by representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s Joint Program Office, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Vehicle Technologies, DOE’s 21st Century Truck Partnership, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ORNL. DOE representatives included Pat Davis, Lee Slezak and Ken Howden.  ORNL representatives included Ray Boeman, Keith Kahl, Bill Knee, Gary Capps, and Tim LaClair. Bill Knee provided a presentation of on-going research and a review of the Heavy Truck Duty Cycle (HTDC) project.


April 2009

Power Electronics and Electrical Power Systems Research Center

On April 7 and 8, the quarterly meeting of the GridApps consortium has held at ORNL.  The goal of the consortium is to help modernize the U.S. electrical grid.  The consortium provides members with the technical and financial resources to develop and deploy grid modernization technologies in a collaborative effort enhancing the individual resources contributed by each utility, provides best technologies and practices with a viable market size for commercialization success, and provides a collective voice of the utility industry on the importance of technology investments. There were 13 visitors representing 10 utility companies present at the meeting. The group's discussion included demand side management, dynamic rating of transformers, dynamic line rating, integrated distributed energy resources and distribution equipment management, and fleet application of electric vehicles. Presentations and tours were made by ORNL staff on the VERDE project (Visualizing Energy Resources Dynamically on Earth), superhydrophobic technology demonstration, power line conductor accelerated testing, Campbell Creek homes in West Knoxville, Buildings Technology Research Integration Center, Distributed Energy Communication & Controls Lab, High Temperature Superconductivity Cable Test Facility, and - National Transportation Research Center.


Dr. Green participates in NAE's German-American Frontiers in Engineering Program

Dr. Johney Green   Dr. Johney Green

Dr. Johney Green, Director, Energy and Transportation Science Division, has been selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering German-American Frontiers of  Engineering (GAFOE) Program.  The GAFOE Program was started in 1998 and the GAFOE symposia is held every year in locations alternating between Germany and the United States.  GAFOE brings together outstanding, early-career German and American engineers from industry, universities, and other research institutions to introduce their areas of engineering research and technical work, thereby facilitating an interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge and methodology that could eventually lead to collaborative networks of engineers from the two countries.  Approximately 60 participants are invited to participate, 30 engineers from each country.  This year’s symposium will be held in Potsdam Germany, April 22-25.


Energy savings from Extended Daylight Saving Time report highlighted in Scientific American and other report

Stan Hadley of the Power and Energy Systems Group, Shih-Mao Chin of the Transportation Technology Group, and David Belzer of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory wrote a DOE report to Congress last fall that examined the energy savings from extending Daylight Saving Time three weeks in the spring and one week in the fall. The DOE program manager, Jeff Dowd, was interviewed by Scientific American, and an article highlighting the results was published in the March 2009 issue. A number of other magazines, newspapers, and television stations also reported the results in early March, at the time of the switch to Daylight Saving Time. Congressman Markey issued a press release about the savings and the report, although some of their numbers were not based on our analysis.

Key results of the study were:

  • The total electricity savings of Extended Daylight Saving Time were about 1.3 Tera Watt-hour (TWh). This corresponds to 0.5 percent per each day of Extended Daylight Saving Time, or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. In reference, the total 2007 electricity consumption in the United States was 3,900 TWh.
  • In terms of national primary energy consumption, the electricity savings translate to a reduction of 17 Trillion Btu (TBtu) over the spring and fall Extended Daylight Saving Time periods, or roughly 0.02 percent of total U.S. energy consumption during 2007 of 101,000 TBtu.
  • During Extended Daylight Saving Time, electricity savings generally occurred over a three- to five-hour period in the evening with small increases in usage during the early-morning hours. On a daily percentage basis, electricity savings were slightly greater during the March (spring) extension of Extended Daylight Saving Time than the November (fall) extension. On a regional basis, some southern portions of the United States exhibited slightly smaller impacts of Extended Daylight Saving Time on energy savings compared to the northern regions, a result possibly due to a small, offsetting increase in household air conditioning usage.
  • Changes in national traffic volume and motor gasoline consumption for passenger vehicles in 2007 were determined to be statistically insignificant, and, therefore, could not be attributed to Extended Daylight Saving Time.

Publications:
“Does Daylight Saving Time Conserve Energy?” Scientific American, March 2009.
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=does-daylight-saving-times-save-energy

“Daylight Saving Time: How Much Energy Does It Really Save?” U.S. News and World Report, March 6, 2009.
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/fresh-greens/2009/03/06/daylight-savings-times-true-energy-savings.html

Mar. 5, 2009 - Markey & Upton: Time Really is Money with Daylight (and Energy) Saving Bill, “DOE report vindicates money and energy savings from Markey-Upton legislation extending Daylight Saving Time”
http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=3550&Itemid=125

Department of Energy, 2008, Impact of Extended Daylight Saving Time on National Energy Consumption, Report to Congress, Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 110, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Washington D.C., October http://www.eere.energy.gov/ba/pba/pdfs/epact_sec_110_edst_report_to_congress_2008.pdf

Belzer, David B., Stanton W. Hadley, and Shih-Miao Chin, 2008, Impact of Extended Daylight Saving Time on National Energy Consumption: Technical Documentation, prepared for U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, October. http://www.eere.energy.gov/ba/pba/pdfs/epact_sec_110_edst_technical_documentation_2008.pdf


Air Barrier Test Facility Completed

Air leakage is responsible for up to 25 percent of the energy loss through building envelope components. The inclusion of air tightness as a requirement in building codes and standards has been a controversial topic with adversaries indicating that there are no well documented studies that can be cited to prove the cost effectiveness of this requirement.  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Program and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), along with the Air Barrier Association of America, their industry members, and the Syracuse University have completed the construction of a new outdoor test facility in December 2008 that will be employed to address this issue. The test facility is located on the grounds of Syracuse University. This facility can be employed to evaluate up to 34 different building envelope components simultaneously. Data acquisition systems and test specimens for the first round of tests are being installed in Winter and Spring 2009. Contact: Patrick Hughes, 865-574-9337, hughespj1@ornl.gov or André Desjarlais, 865-574-0022, desjarlaisa@ornl.gov.


New Highly Versatile Single-Cylinder Gasoline Research Platform Operational at ORNL (Jim Szybist - March 19, 2009)

Background

A new gasoline engine research platform is now operational at ORNL.  The research platform is based on a production GM Ecotec direct injection (DI) engine, and with three deactivated cylinders it will operate as a single-cylinder engine.  The engine has also undergone additional significant modifications to make it a unique and highly versatile research platform capable of HCCI combustion strategies, as well as other unconventional engine cycles.  The new capability will be used for several projects, and is available for use in joint research programs with industry partners.

Sturman Hydraulically
Actuated Valve

Unique Capabilities

  • Infinitely variable valve actuation:  The engine is equipped with a hydraulic valve actuation (HVA) system from Sturman Industries instead of a cam-based valve train.  The two intake valves and two exhaust valves can all be actuated independently, making it an ideal research tool to study charge motion, HCCI combustion, over-expanded cycles, as well as other unconventional engine cycles.
  • Fully flexible engine controller:  A LabVIEW-based engine controller using 3rd party hardware from DRIVVEN allows for full access to all engine controls.  This includes spark timing, fuel trim, and valve events.  In addition, the integrated combustion analysis system has the capability to provide fast enough analysis for cycle-to-cycle control.  This capability makes the engine an ideal tool to study control algorithms during unstable operation, such as during the SI-HCCI transition, and for unstable lean-burn combustion. 

    Engine Installation at ORNL

     

    Modified Engine Head with
    Sturman HVA modules

  • Direct and port fuel injection:  Both a DI fuel injector as well as a PFI injector are installed on the engine.  This will allow for direct comparisons between the two fuel injection techniques, which may be particularly interesting for studying the charge-cooling effects of ethanol.  In addition, studies of dual-fuel combustion techniques can be studied on this platform.
    Engine Control System with Integral Combustion Analysis

Summary

The new gasoline research platform that has been commissioned at ORNL is a highly versatile tool that significantly expands the research capability at ORNL.  The new research capabilities enabled by this platform are as follows:

  • HCCI combustion and fuel effects:  The HVA valvetrain enables investigations of negative valve overlap and exhaust rebreathing HCCI in-house at ORNL. 
  • Effects of charge motion on combustion:  By controlling each valve individually, varying amounts of charge motion can be imparted.  The capability to perform charge motion studies will be available for conventional SI combustion as well as HCCI combustion techniques.
  • Unique and unconventional engine cycles:  The infinitely variable valvetrain enables investigations into unconventional engine cycles in the pursuit of higher efficiency. 
  • Engine control algorithm development:  The cycle-to-cycle control capability of the engine controller allows for the implementation of control strategies for unstable engine operation. 
  • Fuel effects research:  In addition to fuels work in advanced combustion regimes, the dual DI and PFI injectors on this engine make it ideal to study the differing effects of intake charge cooling for SI engine conditions.