The National Oilheat Research Alliance is soliciting proposals in several categories for research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects that qualify for NORA funding.
NORA recently issued its first Program Opportunity Notice (PON) of 2016, seeking proposals in three categories: system-level controls, new appliances, and other new ideas. NORA’s 2016 budget includes approximately $2.8 million for RD&D projects, and grant awards in this cycle could be as high as $350,000.
Companies that would like to obtain NORA funding for RD&D projects must submit detailed applications in writing to NORA by Wednesday, June 15. All projects will be managed by NORA’s Liquid Fuels Research Center, and projects’ costs are to be shared by NORA and the applicant and/or third parties.
In the past, NORA has issued grants ranging in size from $20,000 to $350,000. There is no minimum grant size, and NORA may adjust the funding allocation based upon the quantity and quality of the proposals received.
System Level Controls
NORA reports on its website that it encourages applicants to develop monitoring, equipment diagnostic, and control concepts that can lead to enhanced energy efficiency and improved efficiency of service and fuel delivery. This can include system control components (burner primary controls, aquastats, thermostats, zone controllers or weather-responsive controls) that are communicating, as well as the systems to support these components.
Local and remote interface devices, software, apps, and new diagnostic tools and methods can be included. Proposals can include measurement schemes beyond the scope of traditional controls. In prior development efforts, concepts have been developed that monitored run time remotely, according to NORA. Products have also been developed that measure pressure in the fuel supply line in a one-pipe system. (Pressure readings during burner off-periods can provide information on the fuel tank level.)
Projects in this category may address products that can be installed in a home and can provide real time information via phone or Internet connection. Such products could be installed temporarily for use in an energy efficiency study or could be an integrated part of a larger heating system monitoring concept.
Software tools are also of interest, and these may be online tools or programs. (Monitors that provide alarm signals when tank levels are low appear to be well developed and are unlikely to receive funding, according to NORA.)
Projects that involve service organization demonstration of products or systems are encouraged, with a specific interest in sharing results to communicate the benefits of this technology. Demonstration of the integration of emerging monitoring systems with existing service organization operating software is also encouraged.
With increases in both efficiency standards and biodiesel blend levels, NORA is seeking next-generation boilers, furnaces and water heaters that are specifically designed to meet high efficiency and low carbon emission requirements at a reasonable price. The advanced systems should consider ultra low sulfur heating oil and biodiesel blends above 20 percent. Research can include applying oil/biodiesel burners to natural gas appliances.
Other New Ideas
NORA encourages new ideas. The Alliance reports that this category is designed to capture new ideas, products and advanced diagnostics not identified under the other two categories. Some ideas for consideration include low electric power heating systems with battery backup; fuel-fired heat pumps; microCHP concepts; novel end use appliances based on liquid fuels; novel renewables integration concepts; and new emerging biofuels. Areas that have been excluded above may be submitted under this category.
When Congress reauthorized NORA in 2014, it required that at least 30 percent of the budget be allocated to RD&D. For more information about NORA and its programs or services, call 703-340-1660 or visit the website, NORAweb.org.