News and Events June 14, 2012
The Energy Department announced on June 7 that it will invest more than $7 million in three innovative solid-state lighting projects, to be carried out by companies in California, Michigan, and North Carolina. The projects aim to lower the cost of manufacturing high-efficiency solid-state lighting technologies such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). LEDs and OLEDs are generally ten times more energy-efficient than conventional incandescent lighting and can last up to 25 times as long. By 2030, these technologies have the potential to nearly cut in half the amount of electricity used for lighting in the United States, which could save up to $30 billion a year.
The three projects include one led by Cree, Inc. of Durham, North Carolina, to develop an optimized, cost-competitive LED fixture design that uses fewer raw materials and can be readily integrated into buildings. In addition, KLA-Tencor Corp. of Milpitas, California, will develop a measurement tool to help reduce variation in LED production quality, potentially helping to improve LED performance, color quality, and brightness while reducing manufacturing costs. And k-Space Associates, Inc. of Dexter, Michigan, will build on its optical monitoring technology to enable high-precision measurements of the thickness and composition of OLED layers during mass production, paving the way for future large-scale production of OLEDs. See the DOE press release, a detailed description of the selected projects, and the Energy Department’s Solid-State Lighting website.
The Energy Department announced on June 12 it has awarded more than $54 million for 13 projects across the country to advance transformational technologies and materials. These projects, which are leveraging approximately an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector, can help U.S. manufacturers increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs. The projects will be in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and will develop cutting-edge manufacturing tools, techniques, and processes that will be able to save companies money by reducing the energy needed to power their facilities.
From improving manufacturing processes that reduce the energy needed to make components for aircraft and vehicles, to lowering the production costs of carbon fiber for a wide range of clean energy products, these projects represent a major investment in the solutions that will transform energy-intensive manufacturing technologies and materials used by industry in the United States. The results of these projects could produce large improvements in energy productivity, reduce pollution, and boost product output, while creating jobs and helping American companies expand export opportunities globally. Each project will advance technologies early enough in their development cycles to permit the full scope of their technical benefits to be shared across a broad cross-section of the domestic economy. Collectively, these projects are part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support the creation of good jobs by helping U.S. manufacturers reduce costs, improve quality, and accelerate product development. See the DOE press release and the project descriptions.
The Energy Department announced on June 6 the Popular Choice winners for the “Apps for Energy” competition. “VELObill,” the winner of the public vote, will receive $8,000, while “Innovative Solar Demand Response,” took second place and will be awarded $4,000. App developers submitted more than 50 innovative mobile and Web applications that will help utility consumers save money by making the most of their “Green Button” electricity usage data. The Popular Choice awards reflect the results of public voting, which ran from May 17 to May 31 and involved more than 12,000 participants. Other winners in the competition were selected by a panel of expert reviewers and announced May 22 at Connectivity Week, a gathering of smart grid industry leaders in Santa Clara, California. See the May 30 EERE Network News article on the previous winners.
In April, the Energy Department launched Apps for Energy, challenging developers to create apps that were designed to make the best use of the data provided through the President’s Green Button initiative, through which nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will provide more than 31 million customers with access to data about their own energy use. The top Popular Choice winner, “VELObill,” makes it easier for utility customers to view their energy usage, measure whether it is high or low, and compare it to that of their peers. With this information in hand, users can create an energy-saving action plan tailored to their individual needs and preferences. The second-place winner, “Innovative Solar Demand Response,” sizes a solar photovoltaic and battery storage system based on the customer’s average peak energy demand for each hour of the day. The system is sized to release stored energy during peak times, when energy production is more costly. See the DOE press release and the full list of “Apps for Energy” submissions.
The Energy Department and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on June 5 that Chicago, Illinois, is joining the Better Buildings Challenge, part of an initiative launched last year by President Obama to catalyze investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades and support new jobs across the country. As a partner in this national initiative, Chicago is committing to reduce energy use by 20% across nearly 24 million square feet of public and private building space within the next five years. The Better Buildings Challenge supports the Obama Administration’s blueprint for an economy built to last, reducing energy costs in buildings—which last year consumed more than 40% of all the energy used by the U.S. economy—while boosting U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy race.
Chicago plans to upgrade 10 million square feet of city-owned buildings and nearly 14 million square feet of privately owned buildings that have partnered with the city. The City of Chicago and its partners will share their most successful energy-saving strategies and solutions so that others can follow. To date, more than 60 organizations are partnering with the Energy Department for the Better Buildings Challenge and have committed nearly $2 billion in energy efficiency financing to improve the energy efficiency of more than 1.6 billion square feet of building space and to reduce energy waste across more than 300 manufacturing facilities. See the DOE press release and the Better Buildings Challenge website.
The Energy Department recently released a new methodology for evaluating homeowner savings through residential energy codes. These codes are commonly adopted by states and local code enforcement jurisdictions across the nation to make homes more efficient and cheaper to power. DOE’s new approach is based on a life-cycle analysis that balances initial costs with the longer-term savings these codes make possible. By demonstrating savings available to homeowners, this methodology will aid the adoption of cost-effective, energy-saving codes for residential buildings, and help families save money over the lifetime of their home.
The methodology provides policymakers with an estimate of the economic benefits of energy codes though a life-cycle cost assessment over a 30-year period, based on a set of parameters typical for an average mortgage. The assessment includes both single-family and multifamily buildings, as well as a variety of common building foundation and fuel types. Costs of efficiency measures are derived from the Energy Department’s Residential Cost Database and balanced against energy cost savings, mortgage payments, and other financing impacts over the life of the home. DOE intends to use this new method to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these residential energy codes. See the Energy Department’s Progress Alert and the new Residential Code Methodology on the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program website.
The Energy Department announced on June 1 a new interagency advisory committee to accelerate deployment of innovative products and technologies in the federal sector. The Senior Executive Committee for Technology Deployment, a subcommittee of the Interagency Technology Deployment Working Group, brings together leaders of technology deployment programs from across the federal government to implement the Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy to reduce energy costs in agency facilities, while boosting U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy race.
The Senior Executive Committee features founding representatives from the Energy Department, General Services Administration, and the Department of Defense, including the Army and Navy, and is expected to grow. The committee will support the transition of energy efficient technologies from research and development to successful commercialization by developing consistent processes to test and evaluate innovative and underutilized technologies, and share information on technology performance and economic value agency-wide. The committee’s activities will be coordinated agency-wide by the Energy Department’s Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). See the DOE Progress Alert and the FEMP website.
By Leo Christodoulou, PhD, Program Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Office
Most of us are familiar with the classic Thermos bottle. The bottle keeps hot liquids hot with its vacuum insulation material—but without good insulation, the heat from the liquid is wasted.
Likewise, on a much larger scale, about 950 trillion BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat energy is lost every year due every year to the poor insulation of pipes, valves, traps, and components from industrial steam distribution systems. This is almost one percent of total domestic energy consumption—the equivalent of wasting close to 165 million barrels of crude oil or just over 7,500 million gallons of gasoline.
As part of the President’s all-of-the-above strategy to solve America’s clean energy challenges, the Energy Department is investing in an innovative insulation material that saves energy and money for industrial facilities while also helping to support 50 full-time clean energy jobs for Americans.
With help from the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, Aspen Aerogels created Pyrogel and Cryogel, insulation products that use aerogel insulation technology. Aerogel insulation saves energy and money because of its structure—which is comprised of lightweight silica solids that take up only three percent of its total volume. The remaining 97% of the insulation is composed of air in the form of extremely small pores. Because the air has little room to move, it traps the heat effectively – saving energy and money. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.