Large conference room table in an office, with empty chairs all around.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Technologies Office (BTO) awarded $47.7 million to 23 competitively selected projects, led by 19 organizations, to pursue innovations that can advance the goals of the Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2019 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). The funding opportunity seeks to research and develop innovative technologies that will improve energy productivity, improve flexibility, security and resiliency, as well as lower energy costs of our nation's buildings and electric grid.

The 2019 BENEFIT FOA focused on three topic areas:

Topic Area 1: Flexible Building Technologies, with subtopics on:

  • Cybersecurity through Adaptive Building Controls
  • Flexible Building Equipment Performance Verification
  • Advanced Actuators
  • Thermal Energy Storage Materials
  • Embedded Energy Storage for Building Equipment

Topic Area 2: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Related Technologies, with subtopics on:

  • Non-Vapor Compression HVAC Technologies
  • Fuel-Driven Building Equipment

Topic Area 3: Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Technologies, with subtopics on:

  • Green Gap and Droop in LEDs
  • Quantum Dot Optical Down-Converters
  • Stable, Efficient White Organic Light Emitting Diodes
  • Light Extraction and Utilization for OLEDs
  • Advanced Lighting Systems

The following 12 projects were selected under Topic 1: Flexible Building Technologies:

Enhance the cybersecurity of flexible buildings with adaptive building controls:

  • General Electric Company, GE Research (Niskayuna, New York) will work to advance adaptive cyber-physical resilience for building control systems by employing a reinforcement learning-based adaptive model predictive control architecture to ensure safe and near-optimal closed-loop operation under all identified cyber-fault scenarios.
  • Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) will seek to secure Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB) with a novel cyber-defense and resilient system (a real-time building platform with cyber-attack-immune capabilities) by pursuing multi-layer prevention, detection, and adaptation.
  • University of Central Florida (Orlando, Florida) will develop an integrated cyber-physical threat awareness, layered defense, and fault- and attack-tolerant control solution for building energy management systems using Security-Constrained Optimization and Security Risk Detection (BUILD-SOS).

Verify the performance of flexible building equipment:

  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) will produce publicly available, high-fidelity datasets that measure the holistic load flexibility performance of a suite of commonly used commercial building HVAC and thermal storage equipment.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California) will use advanced testing capabilities with cutting-edge modeling tools to measure building equipment performance and impacts on building services.
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) will create a Grid-interactive Efficient Building Equipment Performance Dataset using new occupant-centric control algorithms that produce grid services from heat pumps.

Develop thermal energy storage materials and embedded energy storage options for building equipment:

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) (Berkeley, California) will develop a compact, stand-alone thermal energy storage system using thermochemical salt hydrates for space heating in buildings.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) will pursue a new low-cost and scalable technique for encapsulating salt hydrate phase change materials.
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, Texas) will employ low-cost, high-energy-density salt hydrate eutectics and various additives to improve the performance and reliability of this material to store and regulate thermal energy in buildings.
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell, Massachusetts) will use an inorganic salt hydrate-based phase change material and encapsulation technology to develop a multipurpose latent heat storage system for building applications.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia) will develop bio-based, phase-change materials that are synthetically derived from squid ring teeth protein (PCM) to produce a novel thermal energy storage material.
  • University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, Maryland) will create a solid-state energy storage composite phase change material and heat exchanger.

The following six projects were selected under Topic 2: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technologies:

Advance non-vapor compression HVAC technologies:

  • Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama) will develop electrostatic-based water vapor separation systems for separating sensible and latent cooling (SSLC) in air conditions systems.
  • Electric Power Research Institute Inc. (Knoxville, Tennessee) will develop a nanostructure-based electrostatic to overcome the main challenge in electrostatic dehumidification by improving condensation through sorting the molecules on a nanoscale device.
  • University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, Maryland) will develop thermoelastic active regenerators to advance the state of the art of thermoelastic cooling technology, a potentially more sustainable and efficient alternative to vapor compression cooling technology.

Advance fuel-driven building equipment:

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) has two projects that will develop:
    • a natural gas and propane dual-fuel, gas-fired heat pump combining binary fluid ejector and sorption into a single cycle
    • a heat exchanger design for natural gas–driven heat pumps and combined heat and power (CHP) applications
  • University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida) will develop a highly efficient membrane-based ionic liquid absorption system for ultra-efficient dehumidification and heating.

The following five projects were selected under Topic 3: Solid-state Lighting Technologies

  • Lumileds (San Jose, California) will develop more efficient green and yellow LEDs for solid-state lighting applications that will exhibit improved forward voltage and power conversion efficiency for highly efficient long-wavelength LEDs.
  • Nanosys Inc. (Milpitas, California) will create stable cadmium-free down-converters for solid-state lighting applications that are heavy-metal-free, InP-based quantum dots that can endure the high-flux requirements of LEDs.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts) will develop multifunctional optical outcouplers for efficient and stable white OLEDs that hold promise for improving the stability and lifetime of blue OLEDs by decreasing exciton lifetimes.
  • OLEDWorks LLC (Rochester, New York) will develop innovative high-efficiency, long-lifetime, and flexible white OLED extraction techniques and manufacturing processes.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York) will develop a spatially adaptive and tunable lighting control system by using comprehensive augmented-reality/virtual-reality (AR/VR) tools that should enable lighting designers to render the more efficient placement of light, which also could have expanded wellness and energy-saving benefits.

These projects have been selected for award negotiations.