A team of scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in collaboration with industrial partners, has manufactured and connected a natural gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle with a solar-powered building to create an integrated energy system.
The car and house were both built using large-scale 3D printers.
Power can flow in either direction between the vehicle and the building through a lab-developed wireless technology.
The approach allows the car to provide supplemental power to the 210 square-feet house when the sun is not shining.
The 38x12x13-feet building was designed by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) and was assembled by Clayton Homes, the 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,” said ORNL’s Roderick Jackson in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our integrated system allows you to get multiple uses out of your vehicle,” he added.
The project’s energy control centre manages the system’s electrical demand and load by balancing the intermittent power from the building’s 3.2-kilowatt solar array with supplemental power from the vehicle.
The 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.
“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,” said ORNL’s Martin Keller.