doe-logoUSA: The US Energy Department is to invest $19m in a range of HVACR development projects to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

The projects receiving funding include projects to develop sensors and energy modelling tools to make buildings smarter, reduce refrigerant leaks and improve the efficiency of HVACR systems, and produce an efficient, low-impact, gas-powered heat pump for use in colder climates. The projects will also support renewable energy market penetration through energy storage, pinpoint air leaks and reduce energy losses through the building envelope, and cut electricity use by transmitting sunlight to building interiors.

Buildings are reported to be the largest energy consumer in the US – accounting for more than 40% of the total energy demand and greenhouse emissions, and resulting in an annual energy bill totaling $430bn. Nearly a third of this energy is thought to be wasted.

The 18 selected projects span multiple technology areas, targeting a variety of building efficiency improvements.

Among the organisations receiving funding is Optimized Thermal Systems of Beltsville, Maryland, a company developing a manufacturing procedure for a serpentine heat exchanger that has 90% fewer joints than current heat exchangers.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is involved in a number of projects. It intends to develop adhesive chemistries for bonding aluminium and copper during heat exchanger manufacture, as well as a residential, gas-fired split heat pump using ammonia.

The ORNL will also integrate its GLIDES (Ground-Level Integrated Diverse Energy Storage) system with HVAC systems to provide efficient, building-integrated electrical and thermal energy storage. Funding will also be provided for an ORNL project to develop system-level architecture for a plug-and-play multi-sensor platform, which can use peel-and-stick sensors less than a quarter of an inch thick that are powered by indoor, high-performance, flexible photovoltaics.

Manufacturing group Ingersoll Rand, who own the Trane and Thermo King brands will reduce refrigerant leaks and enhance HVAC&R systems’ efficiency by improving the strength and quality of brazed joints.

“Improving the efficiency of our nation’s buildings presents one of our best opportunities for cutting Americans’ energy bills and slashing greenhouse gas emissions,” said secretary of energy Ernest Moniz. “These innovative technologies will make our buildings smarter, healthier, and more efficient, driving us toward our goal of reducing the energy use intensity of the US buildings sector by 30% by 2030.”