The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced $14 million in funding for 15 research and development projects intended to dramatically reduce energy consumption in commercial and residential buildings.

Six million dollars has been designated for seven incubator projects intended to improve HVAC, water heating, sensors and controls, and building energy modeling, while $8 million has been earmarked for eight frontier projects—projects seeking to improve the efficiency of existing technologies by incorporating new, innovative materials or components—involving advanced clothes dryers, windows, and building thermal insulation.

The funding includes a $3 million investment from industry.

The incubator projects selected for funding include:

  • University of Florida, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Stony Brook University: A gas-fired water heater, dehumidifier, and cooler that uses membrane-based absorption to cool and dehumidify interior spaces and uses water condensed during dehumidification to heat domestic hot water.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with the California Energy Commission: An energy-modeling method combining physics-based simulations with in-situ measured temperature data for more robust retrofit analysis.
  • Sandia National Laboratories with Creative Thermal Solutions: An ultraefficient air-conditioning and heating system based on an air-bearing rotary heat exchanger for building-scale HVAC systems.
  • QM Power with United Technologies Research Center: A higher-efficiency HVAC electric motor with parallel magnetic-circuit path that reduces conductor-loop size and uses less powerful magnets.
  • Case Western Reserve University with Intwine Connect LLC: Low-cost, user-installable building sensors that harvest power from vibrational energy in the environment.
  • ORNL with Richman Surrey LLC and The University of Tennessee: Non-intrusive monitoring of load and HVAC-equipment health in small and medium-size commercial buildings.

The frontier projects selected for funding include:

  • Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlas Roofing Corp.: A more commercially viable biobased, noncorrosive, nonflammable foam insulation.
  • Alcoa Inc. with Adhesive Systems Inc., DIAB Americas LP, and Ellsworth Adhesives: An enhanced foam thermal insulation that is placed between the inner and outer frames of commercial windows to prevent temperature transfer through the frame and condensation on the inside frame.
  • ORNL with NanoPore Inc. and Firestone Building Products Co.: A new type of foam-board insulation.
  • ORNL with VELUX Design and Development Company USA: A transparent insulating window glaze.