Environmental Energy Technologies Division News

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Energy for Industry

Industrial collage

Responsible for about 40% of global energy demand, the industrial sector is the world's dominant energy user followed by buildings, transportation, and agriculture. Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division approaches industrial energy issues from a multitude of perspectives, ranging from basic R&D to understanding the driving forces behind historical or future industrial energy-use patterns. Our work encompasses basic as well as high-tech industries and examines the economic and environmental dimensions of industrial energy use and the potential for new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of industrial processes and the health and productivity of workers.

In addition to front-line research, Berkeley Lab staff possess an interdisciplinary set of talents and resources for analysis and modeling. The Division can also apply sophisticated research instruments, and partner with facilities and shops in the rest of Berkeley Lab to develop or refine manufacturing technologies.

Industry-Focused Projects in EETD

EETD has developed nondestructive techniques for testing paper quality without interrupting the manufacturing process (page 3). Through rapid detection of manufacturing problems, laser ultrasonics can save energy and time while minimizing the volume of defective product.

Fundamental research in our Combustion Group has led to the development of two new gas-burner technologies that offer better flame quality, more complete combustion, reduced energy costs, and lower emissions (page 4). Promising applications identified across a wide range of scales and applications include furnaces and gas turbines for electric power production.

The Applications Team has discovered considerable energy-efficiency potential in high-technology industrial settings, such as cleanrooms and laboratories (page 11). Efforts have focused on developing a design guide for laboratory-type facilities and identifying opportunities for savings through a holistic performance-assurance approach. The work has also involved developing a high-efficiency fume hood for laboratories.

Other EETD work focuses on the interior environment in which industrial processes occur—and where both human health and equipment performance can be at stake. A project performed by our Indoor Environment Department has evaluated the risk of electronic circuit failures induced by small airborne particles that defy conventional air-filtration systems (page 5). As the trend toward miniaturization continues, electronics become increasingly susceptible to short circuits caused by small particles.

Carbon monoxide in the workplace is a hazard whose magnitude is not well known. A new occupational sensor developed in partnership with QGI can help alert workers and managers when CO levels are too high (page 13).

In many cases we work directly with individual firms to improve their products. In a recent example, researchers from Berkeley Lab's Engineering Division and EETD assisted Visteon Automotive Systems in developing a new generation of energy-efficient automobiles. The work focused on reducing vehicle heating and cooling requirements through the use of advanced insulation and window systems (page 6).

Our analytical work includes in-depth sectoral studies of energy-savings potential in industry, exemplified by the Energy Analysis Department's assessment of the U.S. steel industry. They found that implementing 47 technologies and process improvements could lead to a cost-effective 18% energy savings (page 8).

To help address the fact that national and international industrial energy-use patterns are poorly understood, Berkeley Lab is home to the International Network of Energy Demand Analysis in the Industrial Sector (INEDIS). The project links research groups from around the world that are collecting data to establish solid baselines, analyze trends, evaluate policies, and assess the potential for new technologies (page 9).

Research at Berkeley Lab also explores the special problems and needs of developing nations, which use more than half of the world's industrial energy and collectively exhibit a demand growth rate three times that of industrialized countries. A recent project examined the role currently and potentially played by development banks in industrial energy efficiency. Our in-depth case study from India pinpointed the opportunities and barriers (page 10).

With an eye to ensuring that new technologies reach widespread use, we address the "downstream" processes of technology diffusion and market transformation. This is exemplified by our Industrial Policy Group's current efforts to develop collaborative approaches to improving decisionmaking and operations and maintenance infrastructure in the compressed air, paper and pulp, and industrial pumping marketplaces (page 12).

Finally, on page 14, EETD research explores how materials end-use efficiency can indirectly help reduce energy demand in the industrial sector.

— Evan Mills

For more information, contact:

  • Evan Mills
  • (510) 486-6784; fax (510) 486-5394


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