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Research Highlights

Majumdar Confirmed as First Head of DOE's ARPA-E

Arun Majumdar

The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Arun Majumdar, director of the Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division and a professor at UC Berkeley, as the first director of the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E's goals are to create technologies that have the potential to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign energy supplies, reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency. The nomination was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate on October 21, 2009.

Building a Net-Zero Home: The $20 Million Energy Challenge

Iain Walker, a scientist in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) Environmental Energy Technologies Division, has collaborated with his colleagues in environmental energy research to help the Siebel Foundation develop the criteria for its Energy Free Home Challenge™. The Challenge, which comes with a $20 million global incentive prize, is a competition to create a new generation of systems and technologies for homes that achieve a net-zero, non-renewable energy footprint without increasing ownership costs.

"For several years we've been able to build zero-energy homes, but they always cost several thousand of dollars more—sometimes tens of thousands of dollars more—than a regular home," says Walker. This contest seeks to overcome that barrier.

Over the last two years, Walker worked with numerous colleagues at Berkeley Lab, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and elsewhere to develop the criteria. Now that those criteria have been developed, the Challenge will begin later this year. It is open to everyone.

The Challenge itself will consist of two parts: finding the technologies that will bridge the cost and energy gap, and then designing and building homes based on the most promising designs. Once built, those homes will be monitored for a year, and the overall winner will be replicated 90 to 100 times in a subdivision.

For more information, see the 2008 Siebel Foundation Annual report.

China Energy Group Helps Chinese Cement Companies Reduce GHG Emissions

In July 2009, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's China Energy Group joined other international team members in Beijing, China, to launch a three-year project to help 42 of China's largest cement companies reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

These 42 companies produce about 400 million metric tons of cement each year—more than 30% of China's total cement production. Their goal is to reduce the companies' energy use and GHGs by 10% to 15% by 2012. The entire Chinese cement industry produces about 9% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions.

"This is a comprehensive project that goes beyond measurement to benchmark cement plants against both Chinese and international best practice, as well as to provide practical energy efficiency options that can be implemented in the plants," explained Berkeley Lab's Lynn Price, Staff Scientist at the China Energy Group.

China Energy Group

Berkeley Lab participated in a four-day workshop, training cement company personnel to use its Benchmarking and Energy Saving Tool for Cement (BEST-Cement), which was developed with the China Cement Association (CCA), Energy Research Institute, and China Building Materials Academy (CBMA). The tool benchmarks cement plants to Chinese best practices and international best practices and identifies actions that could be taken to improve the plant's energy efficiency.

This event launched the beginning of the Asia Pacific Partnership (APP) project, funded by the U.S. State Department. Total project funding for the partnership is about $1.8 million for three years, with $1 million going to China and the remainder to Berkeley Lab, the World Resources Institute, and E3M, Inc.

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