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About Oak Ridge National Laboratory

As DOE's largest multi-program science and energy laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory possesses scientific and technical capabilities that span basic and applied research in fields ranging from fundamental nuclear physics to applied research and development on advanced energy systems. The Tennessee lab's mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, thereby creating economic opportunity for the nation. Payroll and procurement tops $1 billion annually.

Capabilities

The Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC), in the Energy and Transportation Science Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is the premier US research facility devoted to the development and performance characterization of technologies that maximize the cost-effective energy efficiency and durability of residential and commercial buildings. It offers a wealth of experimental apparatus, computational tools, and expertise on building envelopes; equipment and their cycles and working fluids for heating, cooling, humidity control, water heating, appliance, and supermarket refrigeration; and system and whole-building performance measurement and analysis. Focusing on research and development of new building technologies, whole building and community integration, improved energy management in homes and buildings during their operational phase, and market transformations from concept to commercialization in all of these areas.

Facilities

The Maximum Building Energy Efficiency Research laboratory, or MAXLAB at ORNL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that is enabled for research to advance the energy efficiency and durability of building envelopes (e.g., walls), equipment, and appliances. Completed in September 2013, the MAXLAB contains two research spaces: a high-bay area for building and characterizing large-scale wall assemblies and a low-bay area housing a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning laboratory. The high-bay area houses an apparatus for simultaneously testing air and moisture penetration of large-scale wall assemblies under any weather conditions encountered in the United States.

The HVAC environmental chambers in the low-bay area include an outdoor and four individually controlled indoor chambers. The chambers support collaborative efforts with industry to develop various types of heat pumps, rooftop HVAC units, window air-conditioners, and laundry equipment coupled with heat pumps. BTRIC’s Heat, Air, and Moisture Penetration chamber—the only apparatus of its kind—simulates indoor temperatures of 60°F to 90°F and outdoor temperatures of 0°F to 110°F. Additionally, the chambers can subject walls to 10 to 90 percent relative humidity and other outdoor conditions such as rain, solar radiation, and pressures from wind and wind gusts that range from -30 to 30 pounds per square foot.

BTRIC’s light commercial building flexible research platforms include 1-story 40x60 ft (2400 gsf ) and 2-story 40x40 (3200 gsf) units, each consisting of foundation slabs, structural frames, and utility and IT infrastructure to support a variety of whole building research configurations.

Additional Information