Building Enclosure Materials Lab
This lab is dedicated to the development and testing of building envelope materials and systems. In this lab, CSE researchers characterize the thermal and hygrothermal performance of innovative building materials with the goal to improve:
Fraunhofer CSE has extensive capability to characterize the thermophysical performance of thermal insulations, environmental barriers, heat storage materials, radiant barriers and radiation control systems, including thermal conductivity determination of high-R systems, density, specific heat, porosity, enthalpy profiles and long-term heat storage characteristics of phase change materials (PCMs), 3-dimensional thermal behavior of building systems, and latent and sensible heats of building materials, etc.
Hygrothermal Property Characterization Lab
Fraunhofer CSE has extensive capability to characterize moisture transport characteristics of building materials and building envelope systems. These characteristics are necessary for design of building envelopes and for detailed hygrothermal simulations of building assemblies. That is why a significant number of critical hygric parameters can be determined by our laboratory. The hygrothermal property lab has extensive capability to characterize hygrothermal characteristics of thermal insulations, environmental barriers, heat storage materials, building cladding systems and coatings. Specifically, the testing capabilities include: measurements of bulk density and porosity, analysis of water vapor diffusion characteristics, capillary water absorption, capillary water transport coefficients, sorption isotherm and moisture retention curves, moisture content analysis, etc.
Environmental Exposure Research Lab
This lab is dedicated to the advancement in wall cladding systems, fenestration components, environmental barriers (air, moisture and acoustic), prefabricated façade elements, as well as wall-integrated solar technologies. The lab is equipped with instruments to characterize and analyze heat and moisture transport, and the long-term durability of building enclosure exposed to the marine, cold climate conditions of South Boston. This experimental test facility exposes full-scale wall, roof, window, and PV components and systems to outdoor conditions in a highly controlled indoor environment, allowing CSE researchers to evaluate the real-world energy and durability performance.
Outdoor Test Huts
Fraunhofer test huts have been designed to allow full-scale field testing of building envelope components in highly controlled conditions on the building side. Our goal is to allow accurate measurements and evaluation of field performance characteristics of advanced building materials and systems. Our main research interests include energy consumption, thermal and hygrothermal behavior, material durability, etc. That is why Fraunhofer CSE maintains a number of well-characterized test huts. These test huts are highly-instrumented space-conditioned building-size structures that allow the determination of a variety of building performance parameters such as the dynamic heat flows, temperature, moisture profile, relative humidity, air flow rates through the envelope assemblies. CSE's Albuquerque Test Center offers ample space to perform multiple longer-term outdoor building experiments in a semi-arid climate (see: Outdoor Test Site in Albuquerque, New Mexico under Photovoltaic Technologies Research), while CSE’s Boston facility allows field evaluations under a cold and humid conditions.
Data Acquisition Lab
The Data Acquisition Lab supports Fraunhofer’s efforts to evaluate, validate, and demonstrate emerging building technologies. It enables the rapid deployment of comprehensive, state-of-the-art solutions that can acquire a wealth of real-world building performance and occupant behavioral data with minimal disruption.
Human Behavior Lab
We apply rigorous experimental psychology methodologies as part of focus groups and usability studies to evaluate drivers for and barriers to the acceptance and adoption of sustainable energy technologies and practices, as well as the effectiveness of emerging energy management, behavior change, and energy feedback techniques.
The Building Energy Systems group performs field testing to evaluate the performance of emerging building technologies in occupied residential and commercial buildings across the U.S. Project examples include:
Energy Storage Integration Lab
The ESI Lab emulates a "connected home" with a range of electric devices, including rooftop solar, energy storage, smart loads, and electric vehicle (EV) charging. It supports testing of battery systems, grid connections, transfer switches and renewable energy generation inverters, with a focus on evaluating the interoperability and real-world performance and efficiency of the tested devices for residential and light commercial applications. See Energy Storage Integration Lab flyer here.
Experimental Microgrid Site
The Grid Integration group maintains a flexible experimental microgrid site in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The site offers all the essential components of a microgrid: renewable energy generation, electrical load, storage capacity, and grid connection.
Software Laboratory - Operations & Maintenance of Renewables
The Grid Integration software laboratory develops software displays for solar arrays, batteries, and solar power plant operations.
PV Module Prototyping
The PV Module Prototyping Lab allows CSE's scientists to fabricate and test solar PV modules and prototype advanced materials and designs, comparing the performance and testing the reliability of individual components. The Lab also hosts research into advanced metrology tools for the solar manufacturing industry.
PV Durability Lab
Fraunhofer CSE actively works to increase durability and reliability in solar PV modules through programs like the PV Durability Initiative. The Durability Lab allows CSE researchers to apply accelerated stress to PV modules, to precisely measure their performance and energy yield, and to evaluate the durability of prototype and commercial modules for lifetime and bankability assessments.
Our rooftop testing facilities allow CSE researchers to perform precision outdoor measurement of PV module performance, energy yield, and lifetime under New England environmental conditions.
Outdoor Test Sites
Co-located with a 3-acre, 750kW solar power plant operated by National Grid, the site provides unique test capability for the northeastern climate zone. The site features solar resource and meteorological instrumentation, reference modules, automated 24-hour monitoring, peak power tracking, current-voltage (I-V) curve tracing, hot spot testing, and thermal imaging.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Co-located with the CFV Solar Test Laboratory in Albuquerque, the test site is used to conduct outdoor testing for PV, building energy efficiency technologies, and smart grid applications. The site features solar resource and meteorological monitoring, I-V curve measurements of modules, capacity for systems up to 60 kW, multichannel continual current-voltage (I-V) curve tracing, DC/AC monitoring for microinverters and string inverters, and both fixed-rack and dual-axis tracking.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) Lab
CSE's BIPV Lab leverages the Center's deep expertise in both PV and building technologies, and allows researchers to measure outdoor performance, energy yield and durability of rooftop and façade-integrated PV modules.