Solar Energy Program: Chapter from the Energy and EnvironmentalDivision Annual Report 1980

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Solar energy has become a major alternative for supplying a substantial fraction of the nation's future energy needs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports activities ranging from the demonstration of existing technology to research on future possibilities. At Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), projects are in progress that span a wide range of activities, with the emphasis on research to extend the scientific basis for solar energy applications, and on preliminary development of new approaches to solar energy conversion. To assess various solar applications, it is important to quantify the solar resource. Special instruments have been developed and are now ... continued below

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Division, Energy and Environment March 1, 1981.

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Solar energy has become a major alternative for supplying a substantial fraction of the nation's future energy needs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports activities ranging from the demonstration of existing technology to research on future possibilities. At Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), projects are in progress that span a wide range of activities, with the emphasis on research to extend the scientific basis for solar energy applications, and on preliminary development of new approaches to solar energy conversion. To assess various solar applications, it is important to quantify the solar resource. Special instruments have been developed and are now in use to measure both direct solar radiation and circum-solar radiation, i.e., the radiation from near the sun resulting from the scattering of sunlight by small particles in the atmosphere. These measurements serve to predict the performance of solar designs that use focusing collectors employing mirrors or lenses to concentrate the sunlight. Efforts have continued at a low level to assist DOE in demonstrating existing solar technology by providing the San Francisco Operations Office (SAN) with technical support for its management of commercial-building solar demonstration projects. Also, a hot water and space-heating system has been installed on an LBL building as part of the DOE facilities Solar Demonstration Program. LBL continues to provide support for the DOE Appropriate Energy Technology grants program. Evaluations are made of the program's effectiveness by, for example, estimating the resulting potential energy savings. LBL also documents innovative features and improvements in economic feasibility as compared to existing conventional systems or applications. In the near future, we expect that LBL research will have a substantial impact in the areas of solar heating and cooling. Conventional and new types of high-performance absorption air conditioners are being developed that are air-cooled and suitable for use with flat plate or higher-temperature collectors. Operation of the controls test facility and computer modeling of collector loop and building load dynamics are yielding quantitative evaluations of the performance of different control strategies for active solar-heating systems. Research is continuing on ''passive'' approaches to solar heating and cooling, where careful considerations of architectural design, construction materials, and the environment are used to moderate a building's interior climate. Computer models of passive concepts are being developed and incorporated into building energy analysis computer programs which are in the public domain. The resulting passive analysis capabilities are used in systems studies leading to design tools and in the design of commercial buildings on a case study basis. The investigation of specific passive cooling methods is an ongoing project; for example, a process is being studied in which heat-storage material would be cooled by radiation to the night sky, and would then provide ''coolness'' to the building. Laboratory personnel involved in the solar cooling, controls, and passive projects are also providing technical support to the Active Heating and Cooling Division and the Passive and Hybrid Division of DOE in developing program plans, evaluating proposals, and making technical reviews of projects at other institutions and in industry. Low-grade heat is a widespread energy resource that could make a significant contribution to energy needs if economical methods can be developed for converting it to useful work. Investigations continued this year on the feasibility of using the ''shape-memory'' alloy, Nitinol, as a basis for constructing heat engines that could operate from energy sources, such as solar-heated water, industrial waste heat, geothermal brines, and ocean thermal gradients. Several projects are investigating longer-term possibilities for utilizing solar energy. One project involves the development of a new type of solar thermal receiver that would be placed at the focus of a central receiver system or a parabolic dish. The conversion of the concentrated sunlight to thermal energy would be accomplished by the absorption of the light by a dispersion of very small particles suspended in a gas. Another project is exploring biological systems. In particular, we are investigating the possibility of developing a photovoltaic cell, based on a catalyst (bacteriorhodopsin) which converts light to electrical ion flow across the cell membrane of a particular bacteria.

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  • Report No.: LBL--11984
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/894951 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 894951
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc889277

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  • March 1, 1981

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Sept. 30, 2016, 12:46 p.m.

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Division, Energy and Environment. Solar Energy Program: Chapter from the Energy and EnvironmentalDivision Annual Report 1980, report, March 1, 1981; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc889277/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.