At the recent Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, run by the University of Tennessee (UT) for the US Department of Energy (DOE), unveiled an incredibly innovative 3D-printed building that can be powered partially by a car. Designed by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), the energy-efficient structure is made up of a series of printed C-shaped forms, and also contains a built-in 3.2-kilowatt photovoltaic array. What is more, the house and the vehicle create an integrated energy system, keeping each other charged at all times.
Showcased during DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industry Day event, the research lends new meaning to off-grid living, by completely eliminating dependency on external, and usually non-renewable, sources of energy. As part of the study, the scientists have developed a high-specialized wireless technology that allows bi-directional energy flow between a natural gas-driven hybrid car and a solar-powered building. Rapid prototyping is another noteworthy feature of the project, which has enabled the team to bring the idea to fruition in less than one year. Speaking about the concept, Roderick Jackson, of ORNL, said:
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 your vehicle.
Measuring around 210-square-foot in area, the building’s design was developed by SOM and University of Tennessee’s College of Architecture and Design. The actual construction, of the house, was carried out by Clayton Homes, a company specializing in manufactured and modular housing. The 38x12x13 foot structure features 3D-printed C-shaped sections, strengthened by means of steel rod reinforcements. As confirmed through full-scale load testing, the dwelling can not only resist lateral and live loads, but can also withstand localized stress. The spokesperson of SOM said:
Through the integration of scientific knowledge and high-performance architectural design, the AMIE building explores the potential for a 3D-printed enclosure to condense the many functions of a conventional wall system into an integrated shell – structure, insulation, air and moisture barriers, and exterior cladding. This could lead to zero-waste construction, reduced material consumption and buildings that can be ground up and reprinted for new forms and uses.
Efficient interior insulation, via glazing and the integration of vacuum-wrapped panels and atmospherically-insulated panels (AIP), actually makes the house more energy-efficient. The building is powered by a combination of solar panels and the car’s natural gas-driven generator, as designed the scientists at ORNL. Martin Keller, the associate laboratory director at ORNL, said:
We’re looking at large community issues from the single-unit level,” said ORNL’s Martin Keller, associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Sciences. “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.