CERC infographic

Accelerating market uptake of critical air barrier technologies

U.S. and Chinese researchers and industry partners leveraged complementary capabilities to produce two new products that can be easily installed to improve the airtightness of buildings: LIQUIDARMOR and 3M 3015.

Dow teamed with CERC researchers to develop a one-step, sprayable liquid flashing technology and launched the product as LIQUIDARMOR–CM and LIQUIDARMOR–RS, the commercial and residential versions, respectively. LIQUIDARMOR decreases air leakage by about 20%, and its rapid installation capability increases its cost-effectiveness. This seamless air and water sealant technology was demonstrated in several U.S. buildings and at CABR in Beijing. LIQUIDARMOR recently won the 2016 Gold Edison Award for Building Construction & Lighting Innovations, one of the most prestigious accolades honoring excellence in innovation.

3M collaborated with CERC researchers at ORNL to develop a primer-less, self-adhering membrane that enteredU.S. markets as "3M 3015." This product is more durable and effective than prevailing air barrier technologies, adheres well to common building materials without priming, and can be installed twice as fast. It can be applied at low temperatures (~0°F) and is suitable for both new and existing residential or commercial construction. 3M and ORNL are installing 3M 3015 in demonstration buildings throughout the United States and at CABR.

Development of both products was facilitated by the complementary skills and resources of U.S. and Chinese researchers and industry partners. Industry gained greater access to top researchers and laboratory equipment and to rapidly expanding markets in both countries, while national laboratories benefited from industry expertise in the technology-to-market process and access to industrial facilities for demonstrating cutting-edge technologies.

China Partner: China Academy of Building Research (CABR)

U.S. Partners: Dow Chemical, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), 3M

Developing more energy efficient and lower cost ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are more energy efficient than conventional space conditioning and water heating systems, yet this technology has penetrated only 1% of U.S. and Chinese markets. The key barrier in the United States is high initial cost; in China, it is the lack of standards. CERC researchers teamed with industry to identify a new ground heat exchanger (GHX) that requires 14%–30% less drilling and associated cost than conventional GHX. Researchers also developed (1) a new analytic tool for cost effectively monitoring the performance and detecting faults in distributed GSHP systems and (2) an innovative flow-demand-based control to reduce pumping energy by 20% or more. A first-ofits- kind, flexible research platform was built and used to evaluate the new controls for central pumping of distributed GSHP systems and water heating of a ground source integrated heat pump. A distributed GSHP system was demonstrated at the China Academy of Building Research (CABR) in Beijing.

China Partners: CABR, Chongqing University, Tianjin University, Tongji University

U.S. Partners: ClimateMaster, ORNL

Advancing cost-effective post-combustion CO2 capture technologies

Equipping coal power plants with CO2 capture technologies can enable large-scale emissions reductions, as required to meet bold climate goals. Currently, these technologies are cost-prohibitive and tend to lower plant efficiency. In addition, the lack of adequate cost data and in-plant demonstrations creates uncertainty in the market. To address these deficiencies, CERC researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Huaneng conducted a conceptual simulation of a post-combustion CO2 capture system in Duke Energy’s Gibson-3 station in Indiana, using technology developed by Huaneng and demonstrated at its Shanghai Shidongkou power plant. Under the CERC framework, both U.S. and Chinese plants provided operating and cost data for this study—considered groundbreaking in U.S.-China bilateral R&D. The simulation indicated that if the same system were to be installed at Duke Energy’s Gibson-3 plant, the cost would be much lower than previously thought: about US $61–$68 per metric tonne of CO2 versus previous estimates of US $100 per metric tonne. Cost data like this could help speed deployment of CO2 capture technologies in existing coal plants.

China Partner: Huaneng

U.S. Partners: Duke Energy, LLNL

Evaluating algae for CO2 capture in a real-world environment

CERC researchers from the University of Kentucky, ENN Group, and Duke Energy conducted several demonstrations of photobioreactors (PBRs) and analyzed the potential for using algal biomass to capture CO2 emissions from power plants. At the same time, to better understand the cost dynamics of these technologies, researchers ran techno-economic analyses that influenced the design of the PBRs and helped make them more cost efficient.

Based on the initial demonstrations and analyses, researchers determined that installation costs are a key factor in the overall system economics. Researchers then developed a next-generation ‘cyclic flow’ reactor, which reduces costs by optimizing tube spacing (making more efficient use of capital) and using a more affordable support frame. This radically new design, the ‘cyclic flow’ reactor, was prototyped, tested, and deployed at Duke Energy's East Bend Station. Researchers found this design to be more energy efficient, more productive, and less capital-intensive than its predecessor. Researchers further refined the technology to improve its operational stability and tested it under continuous operation for five months. The system produced more algal biomass in one growing season than had previously been grown over the course of the entire project.

This successful project illustrates the benefits of U.S. and Chinese CERC researchers engaging collaboratively, building on the strengths of each of its partners, and sharing data—particularly the results collected at the demonstration site.

China Partner: ENN Group, Zhejiang University

U.S. Partner: Duke Energy, University of Kentucky

Converting vehicle waste heat into energy using efficient thermoelectric materials

Recovering energy from vehicle engine exhaust could improve overall fuel economy by more than 5%. CERC researchers jointly developed a novel approach for fabricating bulk thermoelectric materials, which can be used to convert waste heat from cars and trucks into electricity. The approach uses self-propagating, hightemperature combustion synthesis (SHS). The research community had believed that SHS requires temperatures above 2073˚C, but CERC research shows that it can be used to synthesize lower-melting-point materials. CERC researchers developed and published a new criterion for the applicability of SHS to a wider range of materials. This research opens a new avenue for ultra-fast, lowcost, and large-scale production of thermoelectric materials. Researchers applied the novel SHS approach to a variety of thermoelectric materials to determine material properties and operating behavior. The resulting data has helped to optimize the performance of several thermoelectric compounds, accelerating the possibility that thermoelectric devices may be used to improve vehicle efficiency in the near future.

China Partner: Wuhan Institute of Technology

U.S. Partners: ORNL, The Ohio State University, Sandia National Laboratory, University of Michigan

Charging electric vehicles wirelessly with higher efficiency

The ability to quickly recharge EVs wirelessly could accelerate a global transition to a lower-carbon, more efficient transportation system. CERC researchers developed a method to wirelessly charge electric vehicles with greater efficiency and controllability than existing systems. It automatically tunes the resonance so that neither the efficiency nor the rate of charging degrades excessively when the car and charging plate are misaligned or farther apart than the optimal distance. The method's direct current (DC)-to-battery efficiency exceeds 96% at 7.7 kW of output power. The team built prototypes for 7.7kW and 3.3kW wireless systems to test in an automotive environment (based on Society of Automotive Engineers standard requirements). Researchers also built a series of higher frequency, low-cost, smaller-size systems to assess their operation. These high-frequency systems maintained a 95% peak DC-to-battery efficiency. In addition, the team developed a 3.3 kW capacitive wireless transfer system tailored for dynamic roadway EV charging. This system provides stable and consistent power transfer with up to 92% efficiency at a lower cost and with increased tolerance for misalignment.

China Partner: Beihang University, Institute of Electrical Engineering Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University

U.S. Partners: Denso, University of Michigan