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Research Highlights

EETD Garners DOE Awards

Eight EETD research projects on energy-efficient technology were given a place on the DOE's "Energy 100" list of the department's best scientific and technological accomplishments since its origin in 1977. Also honored were four additional projects which garnered "Energy@23" awards by a "citizen judges" panel.

The technologies were chosen based on their impact on saving consumers money and improving quality of life. A number of these technologies have saved consumers billions of dollars in energy costs since 1977, and have the potential to save much more as their market penetration increases. Others improve workplace and home safety, and quality of life.

The Energy@23 awardees were chosen by the panel from the Energy 100 list. These 23 highest-ranked innovations "demonstrate benefits to the American public, contribute to U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, and have the potential for significant future growth," according to the DOE award criteria.

"These awards speak to the tremendous influence that Berkeley Lab researchers have had on our society in the area of energy and the environment," said Laboratory Director Charles V. Shank. "They also illustrate in tangible ways how our national laboratories make a difference in all of our lives."

"We are deeply honored that the judges have chosen to recognize our work in energy efficiency, environmental research, and air quality," said EETD Director Mark Levine. "We are continuing to conduct high-risk, high-payoff research in a number of new areas such as information technology, commercial building design, and electric grid reliability that will benefit American consumers with lower energy costs, a cleaner environment including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, more productive workplaces, and improved energy security."

The eight Berkeley Lab projects on the Energy 100 list are

  • DOE-2: Energy and Cost-Calculation Software—these programs provide an accurate estimate of a proposed building's energy consumption and environmental conditions.
  • Residential Radon Entry and Mitigation—Berkeley Lab researchers led national efforts to study the infiltration of radioactive radon gas, a large risk factor in lung cancer, into homes from naturally occurring elements in certain soils, and to develop ways of removing this gas before it reaches living spaces.
  • The Carbon Monoxide Dosimeter—this lightweight device worn on clothing provides an accurate, inexpensive, time-averaged measure of exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • An Energy-Efficient Safe Torchiere Lighting Fixture—a safer, energy-efficient replacement for energy-guzzling halogen torchieres, this device uses compact fluorescent lamps. Halogens have been responsible for more than 200 fires and 30 deaths in the U.S.
  • The Diesel Particle Scatterometer—this instrument to measure airborne particulates will enable state and federal agencies to precisely monitor diesel particulates and air quality and guide engine designers to minimize pollution in the environment.
  • Efficient Low-Emissions Burner for Heating and Power—the simple, lightweight, low-emissions (far below the most stringent clean-air standards) technology can be scaled for small domestic water heaters or large industrial boilers and gas turbines.
  • Methods for Reducing Urban Heat Islands to Save Electricity and Reduce Smog—Berkeley Lab researchers are working with the private sector and local governments to capture some of the billions of dollars in possible annual savings in cooling energy costs, and to reduce the incidence of severe smog episodes by reducing the "urban heat island effect" through cool roofs and shade trees.
  • The Home Energy Saver: The First Web-Based Energy Tool for Consumers—empowers homeowners and renters by calculating their average energy bill, recommending energy efficiency improvements, and providing information on how to implement efficient retrofits.

The four Energy@23 honorees are

  • The Electronic Ballast: Accelerating the Market for Efficient Lighting—this has replaced older magnetic ballasts as the power supply for fluorescent lamps.
  • Energy-Efficient Windows—low-emissivity coatings and spectrally selective low-E coatings save U.S. consumers money by reducing heating and cooling energy lost through windows.
  • Reducing Standby Power Losses—Berkeley Lab researchers are working with industry and governments to reduce standby power loss of appliances, the energy consumed when they are switched off or not performing their principle function, which may represent 5 percent of all electricity used in the U.S.
  • The Aerosol Duct Sealer—a recently commercialized technology that blows aerosol adhesive particles through residential ducts to seal leaks. It can reduce the estimated 10 to 30 percent loss of heating and cooling energy in most homes.

The citizen judges panel consisted of individuals from private industry, academia, and the non-profit sector. Complete information can be found at Energy 100 Awards web site.


EETD Researcher Teaches Readers to Use Numbers Effectively

Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving book cover

EETD's Jonathan Koomey has just released his latest book, titled Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving. The book grew out of his experience in training analysts for work within EETD in the past decade. It is written for beginning problem solvers in business, government, consulting, and research professions, and for students of business and public policy. It is also intended for supervisors of such analysts, professors, entrepreneurs, and journalists who focus on scientific or business topics. The book includes many cartoons and other amusing graphics, as well as quotes and examples galore. The chapters are short and to the point, with plenty of further reading in the back for readers who want to explore further.

Jon Koomey
(510) 486-5974; (510) 486-4247 fax

Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving web site


Helping Builders and Homeowners Make Intelligent Window Choices

Berkeley Lab researchers with collaborators at the University of Minnesota have published the second edition of Residential Windows: A Guide to New Technologies and Energy Performance, with technical assistance from the Office of Building Technology, State and Community Programs. W.W. Norton & Company publishes the book. Based on the latest research, the book provides home owners, architects, designers, and builders with the information necessary to evaluate windows and make intelligent choices. This edition covers every aspect of window design and technology from the basic mechanisms of heat transfer to new products and energy efficiency ratings. And, it includes new tools for making home window purchasing decisions. The book is available in major bookstores or from the publisher's web site.

Dariush Arasteh

Efficient Windows web site


VisualSPARK 1.0 Now Available

Simulation of a physical system requires development of a mathematical model, usually composed of differential and/or algebraic equations. These equations then must be solved at each point in time over some interval of interest. The Simulation Problem Analysis and Research Kernel (SPARK) is an object-oriented software system to perform such simulations. By "object-oriented" we mean that components and subsystems are modeled as objects that can be interconnected to specify the model of the entire system.

VisualSPARK 1.0 is now available from Berkeley Lab; some features are

  • Ability to solve nonlinear dynamic systems of arbitrary complexity—from a few equations up to thousands of equations
  • User-specified time step (variable time step is planned for Version 1.1)
  • Robust solution methods
  • HVAC component library
  • Dynamic plotting allows results to be plotted while simulation is running
  • Up to 20 times faster execution times than related programs (through use of graph-theoretic methods for problem size reduction)

The main elements of VisualSPARK are a user interface, a network specification language, a solver, and a results processor. With the network specification language you create calculation objects and link them into networks that represent a building's envelope or HVAC system. The solver solves this network for user-specified input parameters. The results processor graphically displays the results.

VisualSPARK runs under the Windows 95/98/NT/2000, SunOS, Solaris, Linux and HPUNIX operating systems. VisualSPARK costs $250. Please visit the Simulation Research Group web site, for purchase information. VisualSPARK was developed by EETD's Simulation Research Group and Ayres Sowell Associates, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Kathy Ellington


EETD Seminar Discusses Energy Crisis

What directions the city of Berkeley needs to take to survive the current California energy crisis was the subject of a noontime seminar recently held by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. Leading the discussion were Jeff Siegel, graduate student in the Energy Performance of Buildings Group, Rick Diamond, staff scientist, also of EPOB, Bill Golove, staff research associate of EETD's Energy Analysis Department, and Neal De Snoo, city of Berkeley's Energy Manager. Siegel, who also is chair of Berkeley's Energy Commission, made a presentation similar to one he presented the previous evening to the Berkeley City Council.

Berkeley's Energy Commission was established to advise City leaders on steps Berkeley should take to maintain a healthy energy system. At an earlier brain-storming meeting of the Commission, such ideas as conservation, system efficiency, renewable sources, reliability, and social equity were suggested as possible strategies. Out of these, the Commission agreed that conservation should be the first method used by citizens to lower their utility bills. Other ideas posited for greater investigation include municipalization of the utilities, an opt-out aggregation program for Berkeley residences, and rates based on climate-based load profiles. Conservation tactics could include such simple actions as turning down thermostats or installing efficiency measures: attic insulation, water heater wraps, etc. Many believe that conservation efforts will result in less pollution and lower costs, and will protect ratepayers from future price spikes.

The Energy Commission will recommend that the City Council aggressively promote conservation measures and allocate City resources to these tasks. Other suggested measures will be more problematic. If Berkeley were to municipalize its utilities (buy the poles and wires), there would be no guarantees of cheaper rates and the city would have to purchase and maintain an existing system. An opt-out aggregation would allow residential and small commercial ratepayers to form one large energy-purchasing block, making the city the default power provider, but such a measure would require a change in state law and still not guarantee any cheaper electricity rates.

The final picture of the crisis presents both good- and bad-news scenarios. The bad news is the problems will likely be exacerbated this summer when usage will be higher; but the good news is the crisis is a substantial opportunity for Berkeley to improve its environmental stances and commit itself to further reduction of greenhouse gases.

After the Commission presentation to the Berkeley City Council, the Council passed an encompassing resolution that listed nine different responses to the crisis. The text of the resolution can be found on the City of Berkeley's web site.


EETD Develops Energy-Efficient Table Lamp

High-performance, energy-efficient table lamp

Researchers in EETD's Lighting Group have developed a new high-performance, energy-efficient table lamp that is designed to save energy in homes and offices while greatly increasing lighting quality and visibility. At full power, this two-lamp fluorescent system matches the combined luminous output of a 300-watt halogen lamp and a 150-watt, incandescent table lamp while using only a quarter of the energy. Berkeley Lab is working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), to acquire and field-test the first production lamps based on the new high-performance design.

More details about the lamp will be published in the next issue of this newsletter. Information is also available at the following Web page:Berkeley Lab Research News.


EnergySmart Schools Inventors Summit Takes Place at Berkeley Lab

EnergySmart Schools Contest logo

Four creative elementary school students, winners of the EnergySmart Schools Contest, met on January 12 with the nation's top energy scientists and engineers at Berkeley Lab, where their energy-saving ideas were built. The national invention contest for elementary school students was sponsored by Owens Corning and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Students drew an original, energy-saving device and submitted a description of how it works for a chance to be appointed an EnergySmart Schools Inventor and participate in the EnergySmart Schools Inventor Summit.

The winners were Annie Austin, sixth grade, Lewis Farrell Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA, Kate Flor-Stagnato, fourth grade, Coles School, Scotch Plains, NJ, Jonathan Ioviero, fifth grade, Oak Orchard Elementary School, Medina, NY, and Michael Torrey, fifth grade, Forest Park Elementary School, Fremont, CA.

At the EnergySmart Summit on January 12, the winners took a tour of Berkeley Lab and then convened at a workshop site in the afternoon to build their inventions with the help of scientists and engineers. Participating from EETD were Rick Diamond, Erik Page, and Michael Siminovitch. About 30 staff members from the Lab's Engineering Division helped build the invention prototypes.

Once the winners were announced in December, Berkeley Lab's Engineering Division worked to develop "kits" that the student inventors were able to assemble into their inventions when they arrived at the Lab. The inventions and the results can be viewed at the EnergySmart Schools Inventors web site.

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