Buildings – Cool Smart Walls

By Jennifer Burke, burkejj@ornl.gov | Science Writer & Communications Specialist | ORNL


Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers used additive manufacturing to build a first-of-its kind smart wall called EMPOWER. The wall, designed for a building’s interior, also functions as a cooling system to optimize energy use and lower overall cost.

The prototype wall was manufactured with a cable-driven, field deployable concrete additive manufacturing system and embedded with a thermal storage and active insulation system. A chiller connected to the wall pumps cool water through pipes. That coolness is stored in the interior and then transferred throughout the room as needed.

Video courtesy of ORNL

“With the ability to function not just as a support wall but also as the room’s cooling system, the wall can lower utility bills and maintain occupant comfort while reducing energy use,” said ORNL’s Melissa Lapsa, who led the project sponsored by the Federal Energy Management Program.
 
Researchers will build two additional walls for installation in office buildings and monitor their performance and functionality for a year.

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UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.

Source: ORNL

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