Berkeley Lab to work with Singapore university to create energy-saving technology

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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to develop energy-saving technology for tropical areas.

The two research organizations agreed to a five-year partnership signed by Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos and NTU Chief of Staff Lam Khin Yong. The collaboration will focus on improving energy efficiency in buildings, generating and storing renewable energy as well as creating smart grids, according to a Monday press release from NTU.

“This partnership will lead to highly innovative energy efficiency solutions that will help overcome specific environmental challenges faced in tropical megacities like Singapore,” Lam said in the release, noting that NTU has historically “played an important role in (Singapore’s) clean energy landscape.”

Some of these specific challenges include dealing with high levels of heat and humidity in Singapore and other cities near the equator. Cindy Regnier, who heads the Commercial Building Systems Group at Berkeley Lab, said that one way the partnership hopes to address the tropical climate is by improving ventilation systems with better materials and windows.

Regnier added that these solutions, while immediately applicable to tropical climates, could affect areas with similarly high humidity in the United States, such as parts of Texas and Florida.

Plans for several of the research areas in which Berkeley Lab and NTU are interested are already in place, though total financing for the partnership has yet to be determined.

“We already have funding on the table for an initial set of projects, and over time, I think that funding will definitely grow,” Regnier said. “But we don’t have a fixed amount of money dedicated toward the project.”

According to Regnier, energy efficiency is “incredibly important to climate change,” given that conserving energy will directly reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change. A challenge that the lab will try to address is how to incentivize private companies to conserve energy.

“Singapore, and NTU in particular, has a leading role in Asia in terms of energy efficiency and thinking about how we can make the commercial building marketplace adopt more energy-saving practices,” Regnier said. “This kind of cross-collaboration can only help us both moving forward.”

According to Daniel Kammen, a UC Berkeley professor and director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab, both the Berkeley Lab and NTU have “world-class track records in technological innovation.”

“To me the most important part of this is the focus on the energy, water and resource sustainability challenges in the tropics,” Kammen said in an email. “I have worked with NTU before in this area, and have seen that they have tremendous capacity. Couple that with the global focus of (Berkeley Lab’s) energy technologies and systems team and this partnership could have a far-reaching impact.”

Contact Logan Goldberg at [email protected].