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Oak Ridge AMIE demo integrates 3D-printed building, natural gas hybrid with bi-directional wireless power transfer

A research demonstration unveiled at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE ORNL) combines clean energy technologies into a 3D-printed building and a 3D-printed natural gas-powered hybrid vehicle to showcase a new approach to energy use, storage and consumption. The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration, displayed at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industry Day event, is a model for energy-efficient systems that link buildings, vehicles and the grid.

An ORNL team worked with industrial partners to manufacture and connect a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle with a solar-powered building to create an integrated energy system. Power can flow in either direction between the vehicle and building through a lab-developed wireless technology. The approach allows the car to provide supplemental power to the 210-square-foot building when the sun is not shining.


The vehicle and building were produced via ORNL’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system.

The demonstration also showcases additive manufacturing's rapid prototyping potential in architecture and vehicle design; the car and house both were built using large-scale 3D printers.

This video illustrates the flow of electrical energy through the components of the AMIE demonstration project. AMIE uses an integrated energy system that shares energy between a building and a vehicle (vehicle-to-home, V2H). Utilizing advanced manufacturing and rapid innovation, it only took one year from concept to launch.

The 38x12x13-foot building was designed by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) through the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Energy and Urbanism. The design incorporates low-cost vacuum insulated panels into an additively manufactured shell assembled by Clayton Homes, the nation’s largest builder of manufactured housing.

Connecting the house to the 3D-printed vehicle demonstrates the concept of integrating two energy streams, buildings and transportation, which typically operate independently.

Working together, we designed a building that innovates construction and building practices and a vehicle with a long enough range to serve as a primary power source. Our integrated system allows you to get multiple uses out of your vehicle.

—ORNL’s Roderick Jackson, who led the AMIE demonstration project

Advanced building controls and power management maximize the efficiency of the system's components. The project’s energy control center manages the system’s electrical demand and load by balancing the intermittent power from the building’s 3.2 kW solar array with supplemental power from the vehicle.

ORNL researchers hope their integrated approach to energy generation, storage and consumption will introduce solutions for the modern electric grid, which faces challenges ranging from extreme weather events to how best to incorporate growing renewable energy use, particularly as the transportation sector transitions away from fossil fuels.

We’re looking at large community issues from the single-unit level. Our research provides solutions on a small scale, which will translate to a significant reduction in energy use and an increase in cost savings when ramped up to a national, and even global, level.

—ORNL’s Martin Keller, associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Sciences

Partners on the project are: Alcoa/Kawneer; Clayton Homes; Cincinnati Incorporated; DowAksa; EPB; GE Appliances; Hexagon Lincoln; the Institute for Advanced Composite Manufacturing Innovation; Johnson Controls; Knoxville Utilities Board; Liberty Utilities; Line-X; Mach Fuels; NanoPore; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; Spiers New Technologies; Techmer ES; Tru-Design; and the University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture and Design.

Support for the project was provided by ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and through collaboration among the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office, Advanced Manufacturing Office and Vehicle Technologies Office. The project also used resources at ORNL’s Building Technologies Research and Integration Center, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and National Transportation Research Center.





Back in the 1990's computers and software reached a point where they were cost accessible to a wide range of people and then there was an explosion in the development of new ways to use computers and replace old ways of doing things. I believe we are close to that point with renewable energy.

Consider solar panels. I believe that the wholesale cost of a panel in China is somewhere around 50 of 60 cents per watt while an installed cost of less than $2 often makes solar competitive in many regions. It appears to me that all the opportunity is in bringing down the installation costs and this can be achieved in many ways such as integrating the cells and the necessary connections into building materials and design and who knows what else people can think of?


Solar panels to power a building and charge batteries: decades old.
Wireless charging: maybe a dozen organizations and commercial enterprises doing this, available today for the Leaf.
V2G: many working concepts around global auto industry , including the Honda eco-house and several Nissan projects in residential testing.

Why is this something that ORNL needs to be doing? You could do this project at any decent community college in the US or Canada, given some tinkering to add a bi-directional conversion feature to a car battery.

As for the 3-D printed materials: yawn. The car is no more "manufactured by 3D printing" than a normal car is "manufactured from stamping". Body panels and perhaps some orthogonal structural elements, but pretty much nothing else in the completely impractical vehicle shown here comes from this readily available and now non-revolutionary methodology.

Just in case anyone was wondering whether or not ORNL has a purpose any more, you may now see that it is a playground whose expensive sandbox absorbs taxpayer funds with little useful end.


It is sticking all of the technologies together looking for synergies which some of us find interesting and exciting.

But perhaps they should first concentrate on finding something more practical, Herman, like maybe a cure for dyspepsia! ;-)


davemart, there is probably no government on the planet that returns less value for the money spent than the one directed from the banks of the Potomac. I have no problem with taxpayer largesse for investigative projects. But this one bespeaks pork in its most succulent and juicy form.


OR may have only gotten this funded by making the completely impractical vehicle look like a Humvee with anti-IED pants and the building look like an accordion M.A.S.H. tent -

- but having both integrated with bidirectional renewable/solar energy as a approved and successful government project may lead to bigger and better faster.


My concern is that I have to use my car during day light when sun power is available, and I would prefer to have my battery full when I leave my home early morning.

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