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Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Sachin Nimbalkar, left, and Thomas Wenning guide energy-saving training activities for industry during Energy Bootcamps, hosted by DOE’s Better Plants program. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Helping hundreds of manufacturing industries and water-power facilities across the U.S. increase energy efficiency requires a balance of teaching and training, blended with scientific guidance and technical expertise. It’s a formula for success that ORNL researchers have been providing to DOE’s Better Plants Program for more than a decade.

As a chemical engineer focusing on low-carbon energy sources like hydrogen, Cheekatamarla’s research at ORNL supports the deployment of clean energy technologies in buildings and industries. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Cheekatamarla is a researcher in the Multifunctional Equipment Integration group with previous experience in product deployment. He is researching alternative energy sources such as hydrogen for cookstoves and his research supports the decarbonization of building technologies. 

Shift Thermal co-founders Mitchell Ishamel, left, and Levon Atoyan stand in front of one of the company’s ice thermal energy storage modules, which will be submitted to independent measurement and validation testing in May. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Shift Thermal, a member of Innovation Crossroads’ first cohort of fellows, is commercializing advanced ice thermal energy storage for HVAC, shifting the cooling process to be more sustainable, cost-effective and resilient. Shift Thermal wants to enable a lower-cost, more-efficient thermal energy storage method to provide long-duration resilient cooling when the electric grid is down. 


Three ORNL intellectual property projects with industry partners have advanced in DOE's Office of Technology Transitions Making Advanced Technology Commercialization Harmonized, or Lab MATCH, prize, which encourages entrepreneurs to find actionable pathways that bring lab-developed intellectual property to market. 

Fengqi “Frank” Li brings computational and architectural expertise to building energy modeling in ORNL’s Grid Interactive Controls group. Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Although he built his career around buildings, Fengqi “Frank” Li likes to break down walls. Li was trained as an architect, but he doesn’t box himself in. Currently he is working as a computational developer at ORNL. But Li considers himself a designer. To him, that’s less a box than a plane – a landscape scattered with ideas, like destinations on a map that can be connected in different ways. 

Mandy Mahoney, third from left, director of the DOE Office Of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Office, welcomed 21 students representing seven universities across the nation to the sixth annual JUMP into STEM finals competition at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Credit: Kurt Weiss/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Students with a focus on building science will spend 10 weeks this summer interning at ORNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest Laboratory as winners of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Office sixth annual JUMP into STEM finals competition.

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study projects how geothermal heat pumps that derive heating and cooling from the ground would improve grid reliability and reduce costs and carbon emissions when widely deployed. Credit: Chad Malone, ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A modeling analysis led by ORNL gives the first detailed look at how geothermal energy can relieve the electric power system and reduce carbon emissions if widely implemented across the United States within the next few decades. 

Jason DeGraw, a buildings researcher in thermal energy storage at ORNL, has been named a 2024 ASHRAE Fellow. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, selected Jason DeGraw, a researcher with ORNL, as one of 23 members elevated to Fellow during its 2024 winter conference.

An encapsulation system developed by ORNL researchers prevents salt hydrates, which are environmentally friendly thermal energy storage materials, from leaking and advances their use in heating and cooling applications. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

ORNL researchers have developed a novel way to encapsulate salt hydrate phase-change materials within polymer fibers through a coaxial pulling process. The discovery could lead to the widespread use of the low-carbon materials as a source of insulation for a building’s envelope.

ORNL's Kyle Gluesenkamp received the FLC Outstanding Researcher Award.

Four ORNL teams and one researcher were recognized for excellence in technology transfer and technology transfer innovation.