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Energy Efficiency

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) Reduction

To maintain steady progress toward EUI reductions, ORNL focuses on energy-efficient and sustainable design in new construction projects, smart repurposing of existing facilities, and a drive for continuous improvement in facility and utility operations. ORNL continues to modernize by demolishing old, unsafe, and inefficient buildings to make way for the construction of new, high-performance buildings that better serve the ORNL mission.

EUI reduction in existing ORNL facilities is data-driven, and we endeavor to quantify and bring awareness to building energy performance so that operations staff can make informed decisions. Initiatives in 2018 included new approaches to energy consumption awareness using data visualization and reporting. Building data analytics, including fault detection and diagnostics, are also being added to ORNL’s energy conservation tools. To bolster this effort, we have elected to participate in the DOE Better Buildings Smart Energy Analytics Campaign. New and innovative methods were accompanied by time-tested approaches to energy conservation, including LED lighting upgrades, existing building commissioning, and HVAC control system improvements.

Steam System improvements include steam trap repairs and replacement and commissioning of a new deaerator. We have installed additional steam flow metering for better monitoring of how the steam is distributed throughout the laboratory and to help identify future energy projections and new facility locations. A new natural gas boiler was installed for direct heating to reduce distribution losses.

Electrical Distribution System upgrades included installation of additional switchgear to optimize existing loads and to allow improved capacity as ORNL expands its mission. Intelligent reclosers were installed for better power conditioning. More efficient transformers were installed. In addition to being more efficient, they improve reliability and reduce maintenance.

Life-Cycle Cost Analysis at ORNL utilizes building, system, and equipment data, engineering principles, and personnel expertise to perform multiple analyses and validate efficiency measures. We strive for consistency in life cycle cost analysis calculations, procedures, and methods to manage the wide range of projects throughout the campus. In 2018, ORNL began utilizing a project planning and tracking tool that includes steps to measure and validate efficiency conservation measures and utilizes a custom designed project life-cycle dashboard.

Research in Energy and Environmental Sciences

ORNL's Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate (EESD) programs play an important role in America's clean, efficient energy future. Our scientists and engineers work with many of America's best innovators and businesses to research, develop, and demonstrate cutting-edge technologies to advance solutions for sustainable transportation, renewable power, and energy efficiency for homes, buildings, and manufacturing. We bring a multidisciplinary focus to resolve some of the biggest challenges in energy and the environment. We are working to develop systems to create better crops for biofuels and are developing new materials for automobiles and wind turbines. Clean energy innovations are indispensable to effective long-term solutions in a challenging environment and will help provide affordable, reliable energy to support a thriving economy.

ORNL's research user facilities offer a diverse set of tools for experiments across a range of fields, including biology, materials, and energy sciences, physics, engineering, and chemistry. Access to ORNL user facilities is through the review and approval of user proposals, and depends on the scientific merit and other considerations.

DOE National User Facilities Hosted by ORNL's EESD

The Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC) develops breakthroughs to improve the energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of residential and commercial buildings, focusing on building envelopes, equipment, building systems integration, energy storage and building-to-grid interactions, sensors, controls, and data modeling and simulation.

The Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) provides a platform for evaluating new processing technologies and identifying high-potential, low-cost raw materials, including textile, lignin, polymer, and hydrocarbon-based precursors. Using the CFTF, ORNL is developing optimal mechanical properties for carbon fiber material, focusing on structural properties and process optimization.

The Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) houses integrated capabilities that drive the development of new materials, software, and systems for advanced manufacturing. From 3D tomography to in situ monitoring to digitizing manufacturing, the MDF leverages a range of equipment and expertise designed to deliver results that generate energy efficiency improvements in the manufacturing sector, promote efficient use of domestic energy resources, and support the secure production of clean energy products.

The National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) helps industry, academia, and other agencies accelerate the development and deployment of efficient and secure transportation technologies. Research focuses on electrification, efficiency of combustion and emissions, data science and connected vehicles, and materials for future systems.