Feb 11, 2020

Department of Energy Invests $74 Million in Building and Construction Technologies and Innovations

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $74 million for 63 selected projects to research, develop, and test energy-efficient and flexible building technologies, systems, and construction practices to improve the energy performance of our Nation's buildings and electric grid. Awardees include National Laboratories, universities, small businesses, and industry partners.

America's 125 million residential and commercial buildings use more energy than any other sector in the United States, accounting for 40% of the Nation's energy use and nearly 75% of its electricity consumption. The research partnerships announced today will pursue new technologies to enhance the energy productivity of buildings and improve the capacity of buildings to operate more flexibly.

"DOE is accelerating its quest to improve the energy productivity and flexibility of America's residential and commercial buildings," said Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. "We're renewing our commitment to develop state-of-the-art building technologies that will empower Americans with more options to enhance buildings performance quickly without disruption to their lives." 

Many of the projects announced today will advance technologies to unlock deep energy savings through grid interactive efficient buildings and advanced building construction technologies and practices, without sacrificing the comfort of building occupants or the performance of labor-saving devices and equipment. For example, the grid interactive efficient building projects will make advances in technologies to link buildings to one another across the internet and the power grid, which would enable a greater degree of flexibility over conventional buildings to reschedule operations to periods of the day when energy is cheaper and more efficient to use.

Crucially, those projects are also required to address the cybersecurity of flexible buildings and verify the performance of their equipment. Other projects will focus on developing novel thermal energy storage materials, advancements in non-vapor compression HVAC technologies, fuel-driven building equipment, and solid-state lighting.

Learn more about these projects from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy HERE and HERE.

Department of Energy Awards $187 Million to Strengthen U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $187 million in funding, including $48 million of cost share, for 55 projects in 25 states to support innovative advanced manufacturing research and development. These projects address high-impact manufacturing technology, materials, and process challenges that advance the Trump Administration's goal to strengthen domestic manufacturing competitiveness and position the U.S. for global leadership in advanced manufacturing.

"The manufacturing sector is on the leading edge of American innovation and plays an integral role in our economy," said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. "By investing in advanced manufacturing projects that enhance energy productivity, we're supporting the competitiveness of the entire U.S. manufacturing industry."

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office will provide funding for projects in the following three topic areas:

  • Innovations for the Manufacture of Advanced Materials: $124.6 million for 36 projects focused on new, low-cost manufacturing processes to catalyze domestic battery manufacturing, phase-change storage materials for heating and cooling applications, and the development of innovative materials for harsh service conditions.

 

  • Lower Thermal Budget Processes for Industrial Efficiency & Productivity: $28.7 million for 8 projects to conduct novel research on industrial process heating and drying technologies to increase energy efficiency and product quality. These projects are related to process heating which accounts for 70% of all manufacturing process energy use.

 

  • Connected, Flexible and Efficient Manufacturing Facilities and Energy Systems: $33.5 million for 11 projects that support more efficient industrial power conversion equipment, new opportunities for converting process energy to electrical energy while better integrating with the electrical grid, and projects that build upon recent advances in new, wide-bandgap semiconductors supported by DOE. A number of projects will also support advancements in combined heat and power, energy-efficient technologies for simultaneous onsite production of electricity and heat, as well as address technical challenges in district energy systems.

As part of the first topic, the selections include $65.9 million toward lowering the cost of battery energy storage through manufacturing innovation, as part of DOE's Energy Storage Grand Challenge, recently announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. The Grand Challenge will accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage. The battery manufacturing selections were co-funded by EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office and with support from the Vehicle Technologies Office.

Read more about the individual projects HERE.

Coronavirus Rare Incubation of 24 Days Means quarantines need to be 6 weeks long instead of 3 weeks.

Feb 6, 2020

EPA Hires Wisconsin Environmental Rockstar as Administrator for EPA's Region 5!

(FET) EPA Names new Administrator for Region 5 Kurt Thiede of Wisconsin has been named regional administrator for EPA Region 5, overseeing environmental protection efforts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.
He comes to this role with extensive experience promoting and protecting the environmental health of the Great Lakes region.
He is an 18year veteran of WDNR, and previously spent four years as the administrator for the Land Division. 
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management and biology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and in 2016 he received an outstanding alumnus award from their school of natural resources.

Read more about Mr. Thiede at EPA:

Feb 4, 2020

Energy Department Announces $18.8 Million for Hydrothermal and Low Temperature Geothermal Research

(DOE) the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $18.8 million toward the research and development (R&D) of innovative subsurface geothermal technologies. DOE's Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) will fund up to six projects focused on two topic areas:
  • Topic 1: Exploration RD&D: Hidden Geothermal Systems in the Basin and Range; and
  • Topic 2: Advanced Energy Storage Initiative (AESI): Bi-directional Energy Storage Using Low-Temperature Geothermal Applications.

This multi-topic funding opportunity aims to drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of hidden geothermal systems in the Basin & Range region of the western U.S., and to enhance energy system resilience through utilization of Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES), Deep Direct-Use (DDU), and other geothermal direct use applications. These applications can be deployed at military installations, hospital complexes, and other large energy end-uses across the U.S., such as university campuses.


Read full at DOE

Feb 3, 2020

Anhydrous Ammonia Chemical Release — Lake County, Illinois, April 2019

On April 25, 2019, a farm tractor towing two 2-ton ammonia tanks on a county road in Lake County, Illinois, experienced a mechanical failure that resulted in the release of anhydrous ammonia, a colorless, pungent, irritating gas that can cause severe respiratory and ocular damage (1). Approximately 80% of anhydrous ammonia produced in the United States is used as a fertilizer in agriculture (1). Eighty-three persons, including first responders, motorists, and neighborhood residents, were evaluated at area hospitals because of exposure to the gas. Two weeks after the release, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) collaborated with the Lake County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health on an investigation using ATSDR's Assessment of Chemical Exposures program to describe the release, review the emergency response, and determine health effects associated with the exposure. First responders, community residents, and hospital personnel reported communication challenges related to the nature of the gas release and effective protective measures. Among the 83 persons evaluated at six area hospitals for effects of the chemical release, 14 (17%) were hospitalized, including eight (10%) who were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), seven (8%) of whom required endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation; no deaths occurred. In addition, ICU health care providers experienced symptoms of secondary exposure. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance Program has specific recommendations and tools to protect responders during all phases of a response (2). Hospitals also need to review institutional policies and procedures for chemical mass casualty events, including decontamination (3). Prompt and correct identification of hazardous material (hazmat) events, and clear communication among responding entities, including on-scene and hospital responders, is important to ensure effective response after a chemical release.