Washington, DC — Carbon dioxide removal sorbents developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) could result in power and cost savings for users of some heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems under a recently signed license agreement.
NETL, the research and development laboratory for DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, entered into a patent license agreement with Boston-based Enverid Systems Inc. for NETL-developed solid sorbents that remove CO2 from gas streams. NETL’s sorbents will be incorporated into an Enverid product called EnClaire™, which adds on to HVAC systems to reduce power consumption and improve indoor air quality.
HVAC is one of the largest draws of electric power in the United States. In many cities, it represents more than half of the load on the entire electric grid. During peak daytime hours, especially during extreme weather, HVAC demands can stress the grid and contribute to power failures and rolling blackouts. Many efforts are underway to improve the efficiency and reduce the power consumption of HVAC systems.
To maintain air quality, HVAC systems intercept the circulating air flow and remove CO2 and various organic vapors, frequently by replacing indoor air with outdoor air. Since continual air replacement is the major factor contributing to the thermal load on HVAC systems, minimizing the process is one of the primary goals of the HVAC industry. The EnClaire add-on promises to reduce air replacement and energy use while providing optimal indoor air quality.
NETL’s patented sorbents will act as the CO2 removal mechanism in the EnClaire system. Current commercial sorption processes require high-temperature regeneration, making them energy-intensive and costly. In contrast, NETL’s CO2-removal sorbents regenerate at a low temperature, which saves energy and lowers cost. In addition, moisture does not affect the sorbent’s absorption performance, which is a limitation of conventional sorbents. Preliminary tests conducted at Enverid show promise for the new sorbent.
Under the new patent license agreement, NETL will receive royalties when Enverid begins commercial sales of its EnClaire technology. The royalties will fund additional research to make energy production more energy efficient and environmentally benign.
This is the second license that NETL has recently signed with a startup company as part of the laboratory’s continuing efforts to move advanced energy technologies from the laboratory into the marketplace. NETL has also executed an exclusive licensing agreement with Pyrochem Catalyst Corporation to commercialize a patented NETL fuel-reforming catalyst for use in fuel cells. The use of the NETL catalyst in conjunction with hydrogen-based fuel cell auxiliary power systems will reduce the economic and environmental costs of diesel engine idling.