ORNL Receives $55 Million for Two Energy Projects
Rendering of proposed Carbon Fiber Technology Center
Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive $54.9 million from the Department of Energy to assist the department in meeting the 21st-century challenges of energy and climate while also creating jobs. ORNL landed two of eight projects, which will get $104.7 million in DOE funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to establish critical research and testing facilities.
For the first project, construction of the Carbon Fiber Technology Center, ORNL will receive $34.7 million. The center’s staff and industrial partners will investigate novel carbon fiber manufacturing processes and alternative feedstocks (e.g., lignin from papermaking). The goal is to lower the cost of carbon fiber from the current $10 to $20 per pound to under $5 per pound—the affordable range for the auto industry.
Carbon fiber is a lightweight, 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, thereby raising their fuel efficiency while maintaining the strength and safety present in steel bodies of cars.
Oak Ridge will also receive $20.2 million from DOE to develop an Integrated Net-Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) Research Laboratory that will include a commercial-building field research platform. NZEBs generate as much energy as they use annually through high-efficiency appliances, advanced insulation, and on-site renewable energy generation (e.g., solar panels). Given that buildings account for 40% of energy use and carbon emissions, they will be essential to reducing these levels. The new NZEB laboratory will help ORNL’s industrial partners develop the design approaches and technologies that will enable construction and operation of NZEBs at low incremental costs.