BTRIC User Facility
The Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC), in the Energy and Transportation Science Division (ETSD) of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), focuses on research and development of new building technologies, whole-building and community integration, improved energy management in buildings and industrial facilities during their operational phase, and market transformations from old to new in all of these areas. A permanent staff of about 80, supplemented by student interns and post-graduates, is focused on building energy efficiency.
The experimental facilities associated with BTRIC have been recognized and designated by DOE as a “National User Facility” for more than two decades. Often private sector laboratories are not available to conduct the tests and experiments possible using the BTRIC user facilities. In these cases, the facilities at ORNL can be accessed by the private sector, universities, and others by entering into a user agreement. Such agreements can be proprietary or non-proprietary, and are generally conducted on a full cost recovery basis. In most cases the user provides the test specimens (the materials or walls or roofs) and ORNL staff operates the apparatus, takes the data, and documents the results. Scheduling of user tests must not interfere with the core DOE-sponsored research ORNL is conducting using these same experimental facilities. Almost all of the buildings-related research conducted by ORNL is done in collaboration with industry partners through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) or Work for Others (WFO) arrangements.
Facilities and Equipment
The ORNL Building Technologies Research and Integration Center is made up of a cluster of six buildings with over 20,000 square feet of laboratory space. Within this complex are four major experimental apparatuses used primarily for building envelope research.
Rotable Guarded Hot Box
Roof Thermal Research Apparatus(RTRA) and Envelope Systems Research Apparatus (ESRA)
Accessing the User Facility
Access to user facilities is a two-fold process. Prospective users submit research proposals directly to the facility of interest. Acceptance of proposals depends on scientific merit, suitability of the facility for the project, selection of a collaborator, and appropriateness of the work to DOE objectives. Concurrently, a contractual agreement is executed between ORNL and the user institution. This User Facility Agreement, which can be either proprietary or nonproprietary, stipulates the terms and conditions (including disposition of intellectual property) for the project. Some facilities are available for nonproprietary research at no cost, while some facilities must recoup the actual costs incurred for staff and equipment time. More information can be found on ORNL's Partnerships Directorate website.
For more information contact: Andre Desjarlais
- Efficiency improvement — Technology development for heating, cooling, water heating, and refrigeration equipment; building thermal envelopes; existing building retrofit research; weatherization; CHP; residential and commercial appliances
- Testing — Testing of energy-efficient building materials and roof, wall, and foundation systems; HVAC systems; and appliances in the BTC's unique facilities
- Modeling — DOE-2, BLAST, EnergyPlus, Power DOE (whole buildings), HEATING (heat transfer), MATCH, MOIST, WUFI ORNL/IBP Moisture-Expert (heat and moisture transfer), Heat Pump Design Model (HPDM), NEAT (building energy audits)
- Analysis — Analyzing advances in HVAC design, optimization, and control; benchmarking thermal performance of components, systems, and whole buildings; residential electric load
- Monitoring performance of buildings and facilities for technology demonstration
- Preparing facility/utility energy plans
- Quantifying energy savings and cost-effectiveness of retrofits
- Developing energy audit and management techniques
- Developing alternative (non-HCFC) refrigerants and blowing agents
- Identifying causes of building moisture problems and developing moisture control solutions
- Electric power systems technology — Transmission, distribution, automation, and control; high-voltage ac and dc equipment; distributed generation and storage
- Energy market assessment