By Dr. Roderick Jackson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, technical lead for the AMIE demonstration project
Around the globe, billions of people consume and demand energy in all facets of life. Energy consumption is as natural as the air we breathe, but the process to generate, maintain and distribute that energy hasn’t really changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb back in the late 1800s.
What is changing is the need for better access to reliable and affordable electricity, which remains the nucleus of modern day society’s economic stability. However, despite advances in technology, our electrical system isn’t as resilient as we would like it to be.
Suffice to say there’s significant room for innovation and that begins in East Tennessee. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a recent project unveiled and demonstrated in late September during the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industry Day, could provide a strategy for deploying reliable electricity worldwide.
The AMIE (Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy) demonstration project was borne out of a cross-disciplinary research team at ORNL to tackle the electricity challenge through an integrated approach to generation, storage, and consumption. AMIE leverages additive manufacturing to connect a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric 3D printed utility vehicle (PUV) to a high-performance 3D printed building designed to produce, consume, and store renewable energy. The vehicle’s natural gas engine offsets uncertainty by providing complimentary power to the building. When paired with integrated demand-side controls to enable responsive loads, and then scaled up, AMIE is a model for supporting worldwide electricity needs. AMIE seeks to take advantage of advanced building controls and power management to maximize efficiency, providing multiple uses for the vehicle.
On a larger scale, AMIE integrates the best of innovation in the areas of building technologies, advanced manufacturing, vehicle technologies, and sustainable electricity.
All of these areas, working together, produce one outcome – a reliable solution for the modern electric grid.
Our region is well positioned to be a leader in developing products, programs and initiatives such as AMIE to create an energy efficient future. AMIE is the perfect example of what can be achieved when experts from the fields of manufacturing, buildings, transportation, and sustainable electricity work together to achieve a common goal. We are fortunate that this expertise can be found within this team of ORNL researchers and our industry collaborators.
Solving large-scale global issues begins at the single-unit level. A vehicle and a building, working together to sustain us for generations to come, is the epitome of how single-unit demonstration could potentially be replicated worldwide, changing our relationship with electricity forever.
ORNL’s Dr. Roderick Jackson is the technical lead for the AMIE demonstration project. Under his leadership, AMIE brought together expertise from multiple research teams across ORNL, partners from industry, and DOE. Dr. Jackson is a member of ASHRAE. He holds a BS, a MS, and a PhD in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Source: AMIE Demonstration Project, Flickr
For more information, visit http://web.ornl.gov/sci/eere/amie/