You are here

America's Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge

498 likes

7AC Technologies, Inc.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Air conditioning is a very large contributor to U.S. and world energy consumption.  Heating and cooling costs for commercial and industrial buildings exceed 25 percent of U.S. primary energy consumption (cooling alone accounts for 4.5 Quads out of 40 Quads) and typically accounts for almost half of a building’s operating costs.  Air conditioning is also a significant cause of grid instability with cycling compressor motors turning on and off, and causing load issues on hot summer days. Conventional air conditioners improve efficiency only marginally every year and retrofitting older rooftop units does not result in significant energy savings.

Conventional AC units use a lot of power for dehumidification rather than sensible cooling. 7AC’s Liquid Desiccant Air Conditioner (LDAC) systems lower the operating costs of commercial buildings for heating and cooling by 50 to 75 percent by using a strong saline solution (a desiccant) for moisture removal.  A waste heat source can then be used to re-concentrate the desiccant.  The LDAC unit seamlessly replaces existing rooftop HVAC systems and has less than a 1 year payback period when powered with natural gas or with a small conventional chiller.  When waste heat is used (e.g. from Solar Thermal, Industrial processes or the rear of PV modules), heating and cooling costs reduce to essentially zero with a payback period of much less than one year, excluding the cost of the thermal delivery system.

The initial costs for the 7AC LDAC are very similar to a conventional HVAC system.  Replacing an HVAC unit happens every 15 years on average and first costs are very important in the decision process.  The 7AC LDAC has however a much lower energy consumption and since an HVAC unit’s annual energy costs are almost the same as the cost of a new unit, the payback period of the LDAC system is usually measured in months.  This will help building owners to pro-actively replace their older HVAC units, rather than waiting for them to fail.  It also enables Energy Service’s Companies (ESCOs) to carry LDAC products as part of an energy retrofit.

The 7AC liquid desiccant technology works by simultaneously dehumidifying and cooling incoming air.  In a conventional HVC system, air is cooled to the saturation point and overcooled so that the moisture is removed to the desired humidity level.  The air is then often reheated so that it enters the space at a comfortable temperature.  Liquid desiccant systems have been installed for many years, but suffer from two disadvantages: they heat the air as it is being dried since it is usually an adiabatic process, and they have risk of desiccant getting airborne and transported into the building, which can lead to corrosion issues.  The 7AC membrane plates simultaneously cool and dry the air and the membrane (licensed from NREL) prevents any of the desiccant from becoming airborne.  Simultaneous cooling and dehumidification is a significantly more efficient process.  This approach saves between 50 and 75 percent of energy as compared to a conventional HVAC.

7AC’s 10-ton LDAC removes the annual Green House Gas (GHG) equivalent to that of 2 cars, and double that if supplemented with a waste heat system.  If 10% of the global market used LDAC technology, this would remove 22 million metric tons of GHG or 3.7 million cars annually.

Innovators

Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions, Inc.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
333 likes

Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions, Inc., based in Belmont, California, uses Dynamic Transmission Electron Microscopes (DTEM) to enable imaging of nanoscale objects, such as proteins, thin films and nanoparticles at unprecedented time scales and frame rates. By utilizing a laser-driven electron source, DTEMs are able to produce short bursts of electrons that can form an image with nanometer resolution in as little as 10 nanoseconds. This enables observation of dynamics in material systems that play an important role in a wide range of energy technologies, including battery electrodes, petroleum catalysts, solar cell materials, and organisms for bio fuel growth. Integrated Dynamic Electron Solutions uses technology developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Learn More
TrakLok Corporation
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
463 likes

TrakLok, Inc., based in Knoxville, Tenn., intends to use an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)-developed, technology for tagging, tracking, locating and communicating with cargo containers and trailers in transit. The ORNL technology provides an avenue to meet increasing requirements for shipping containers to be "smart boxes" that can be tracked electronically. TrakLok uses GPS technology and satellite communications as part of its tracking and warning capability and international container locking technology to protect against container tampering, theft, vandalism and smuggling. Shipments can be tracked through a web-accessible, information technology-based global tracking system to provide real time visibility of cargo.

Learn More
California Lithium Battery, Inc.
Argonne National Laboratory
626 likes

California Lithium Battery (CaLBattery), based in Los Angeles, California, is developing a low-cost, advanced lithium-ion battery that employs a novel silicon graphene composite material that will substantially improve battery cycle life. When combined with other advanced battery materials, it could effectively lower battery life cycle cost by up to 70 percent. Over the next year, CALBattery will be working with Argonne National Laboratory to combine their patented silicon-graphene anode material process together with other advanced ANL cathode and electrolyte battery materials.

Learn More
SynchroPET LLC
Brookhaven National Laboratory
665 likes

SynchroPET, based in Shoreham, New York, is a start-up biotech firm with the next generation of PET Scanners, which have superior imaging capabilities to what is currently available on the market today. SynchroPET's technology was developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory and it enabled SynchroPET to miniaturize the typical PET Scanner while improving its image. SynchroPET's technology can be paired with an existing MRI machine for a simultaneous image. These advances will accelerate the creation of new pharmaceuticals to treat cancers, and Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. SynchroPET currently has four prototypes built, and each have been used by researchers from labs in New York.

Learn More
Woodmont Enterprises LLC
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
703 likes

Woodmont Enterprises, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is creating a top-coat solution moisture barrier product for oriented-strand board (OSB), an engineered wood product formed by layering flakes of wood, by using technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The primary focus is to create a moisture barrier on OSB during transportation and after installation. One net benefit to moisture protected OSB after installation is mold resistance.

Learn More
US e-Chromic
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
828 likes

US e-Chromic LLC, based in Boulder, Colorado, will use electrochromic technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create a new thin film window material that reflects sunlight on demand, making windows more energy efficient while reducing cooling costs for consumers.

Learn More
Borla Performance Industries, Inc.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
1830 likes

Borla Performance Industries, based in Johnson City, has an option to license a novel, nano-pore membrane technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Combining this innovation with Borla’s exhaust technology will lead to a low cost, unique exhaust system that will double as an energy neutral device to recover and reclaim clean water from engines powered by diesel, gasoline or natural gas. Military and commercial applications include transport and stationery power plants, marine, cars and trucks.

Learn More

Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies, Inc. (IPAT), based in Nevada, Iowa, is using gas atomization technology developed at Ames Laboratory to make titanium powder with processes that are ten times more efficient than traditional powder-making methods — significantly lowering the cost of the powder to manufacturers. The powder form of titanium is easier to work with than having to cast the metal — where manufacturers melt and pour liquid metal into molds — particularly given titanium’s tendency to react with the materials used to form molds. Titanium’s strength, light weight, biocompatibility and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in a variety of parts — from components for artificial limbs — like those used by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan — to military vehicle components, biomedical implants, aerospace fasteners and chemical plant valves.

Learn More
SH Coatings LP
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
10147 likes

SH Coatings, based in Dallas, Texas, employs Super Hydrophobic Coating (SHC) technology that protects power systems by preventing ice accumulation on power lines in ice storm threatened areas and contamination of power lines from salt on the coasts. In order to successfully utilize and commercialize the SHC technology for this application, tools to apply the coating onto new and existing lines must be developed. SH Coatings is developing these tools with the help of technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Learn More
Teknikem, A Division of RockinBoat LLC
Y12 National Security Complex
17256 likes

Teknikem is developing a chemical blend platform technology invented by the Y12 National Security Complex that is known as RonJohn. RonJohn is a safer, more eco-friendly alternative to dangerous chemicals and processes used to strip paints and adhesives from parts and equipment. RonJohn is not toxic, not flammable, not carcinogenic but is biodegradeable and very effective on many plastics, paints, and adhesives. Market segments and channels are being developed including the military, aerospace, shipping construction/maintenance, ground transportation, general industry, and consumer retail.

Learn More
Vorbeck Materials Corp.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
45458 likes

Vorbeck Materials, based in Jessup, Md., is using a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)-developed method for building tiny chemical structures to greatly improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that are widely used in portable devices such as laptops and power electric vehicles. Vorbeck is using PNNL’s method to develop better lithium air and lithium sulfur batteries. The new material in Vorbeck’s batteries stores twice as much electricity at high charge and discharge rates as current lithium-ion batteries, and creates increased battery capacity and a longer cycle life.

Learn More
Umpqua Energy, Inc.
Argonne National Laboratory
142564 likes

Umpqua Energy, based in Medford, Oregon, is using an Argonne National Laboratory technology to develop a system that allows a gasoline engine to operate in an extreme lean burn mode in order to increase gasoline mileage. One negative side effect of a lean burn engine, whether powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, is an increase in the amount of harmful gases released to the environment. The company expects to both increase fuel economy and simultaneously reduce emissions with its system.

Learn More
Element One, Inc.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
191524 likes

Element One, based in Boulder, Colorado, has created the only available coatings that change color when detecting hydrogen and other hazardous gas leaks, either reversibly or non-reversibly, to provide both current and historical information about leaks. Element One’s patented gas indicators and sensors use catalyzed thin films or nanoparticles of a transition metal oxide to create very low cost sensors for use in industrial and consumer environments, greatly reducing the potential for undetected leaks and their cost and safety implications. This technology is also being integrated for use in refineries, industry gas and fuel cells systems and was developed using technology from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Learn More