Lab Partnering Service Discovery
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In 2009, GE entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test the new, more energy efficient water heater called the GeoSprings Hybrid Water Heater. The GeoSpring water heater combines energy-saving heat-pump technology with traditional electric elements using a fraction of the energy. The integrated compressor and evaporator use a fan to draw in ambient heat from surrounding air to heat refrigerant. Then the heated refrigerant runs through coils that wrap the tank all the way to the bottom, transferring heat into the water tank. Test results have shown that the GeoSpring water heater uses less than half the energy of a conventional 50-gallon tank water heater and can last at least 10 years.
The GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater creates the same amount of hot water as a traditional electric water heater, while reducing heating expenses up to 62%. The Department of Energy estimates that if 10 percent of the nation's 4.8 million annual electric water heater shipments were heat pump water heaters meeting Energy Star standards, as does the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater, the 480,000 units would reduce power consumption by nearly 1.3 billion kilowatt hours and save consumers $130 million in energy costs annually. The benefits of the GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater also include the addition of U.S. jobs. In 2011, GE Energy opened up a manufacturing plant in Louisville, Kentucky, creating around 400 new jobs.
Today, GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heaters are sold throughout the world.
LED North America (LEDNA), founded in 2008, is a company located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee that produces LED alternatives for commercial lighting for applications such as roadways, parking lots, parking garages, and indoor high bay applications. The company is located in Oak Ridge at an incubator facility for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. LEDNA licensed an innovative graphite foam developed at ORNL by James Klett, and now LED North America provides advanced light fixtures that illuminate a brighter, more efficient light. The porous material is very light weight and extremely thermally conductive. This gives it the ability to conduct heat away from particular areas, which is important in increasing the longevity of an LED bulb. Every 10 degrees Celsius decreased from an LED bulb’s temperature doubles its lifetime.
The benefits of this new choice for lighting are numerous. The efficiency of the design means that those who implement LEDNA’s products will see a savings in energy consumption. This means lower costs. LEDNA’s products are also very low maintenance, adding again to the decrease in the cost of lighting. In fact, in some cases, LEDNA has shown to generate a positive cash flow through savings of almost five times the original investment. LED North America also shows great promise for growth. Around 21 percent of the commercial sector’s electricity consumption comes from lighting. Many companies are switching to LED lighting in order to cut costs and improve efficiency. The LED market is expected to pass $1 billion in 2013 and grow 40% annually through 2016. LEDNA is sure to be a major player in this market. In the future, Andrew Wilhelm, the president of LED North America, hopes to develop the technology in LEDNA’s products to be able to replace 1000-watt bulbs in arenas, further increasing their applications.
Today, LEDNA has products on the market for a number of applications including commercial high bays, street lights, and area lights. The company recently completed a parking garage demonstration project that achieved payback of installation investment in 13 months.