Vice President Names First DOE 'Top Energy Innovator'
Vice President Biden announced on May 20 that a Colorado-based start-up company has signed the first option agreement under DOE’s new “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge. Based in Boulder, Colorado, U.S. e-Chromic LLC will use electrochromic technology developed by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create a new thin film window material that reflects sunlight on demand, making windows more energy efficient while reducing cooling costs for consumers. The electrochromic technology employed by U.S. e-Chromic LLC uses an electric field to change the tint of a window, allowing control of the transparency based on the time of day, temperature, or exposure to sunlight. The current supply of electrochromic windows turn darker in color when activated, consequently absorbing heat. In contrast, the technology being developed by US e-Chromic LLC reflects sunlight, keeping buildings cooler. The technology can be retrofitted to existing windows, potentially reducing cooling costs by 25 to 30% for commercial buildings during air conditioning months.
In late March, DOE opened the Energy Innovator challenge as part of the Administration’s Startup America initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. Beginning May 2, entrepreneurs interested in some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the 17 national laboratories can now obtain a streamlined option agreement through the DOE challenge. See the DOE press release and DOE’s Energy Innovation Portal website.