The technologies developed include an electronic ballast that improves the efficiency of lighting systems by up to 30% and enhances both their quality and flexibility. The current market share of electronic ballasts is 24% of all ballasts sold. The research also developed advanced energy-efficient window coatings that, although invisible to the human eye, offer a 35% increase in energy efficiency over ordinary double-glazed windows; the current market share is 36% of all windows sold. A national laboratory provides the technical and economic analysis for all residential equipment and applicable standards necessary to set mandatory efficiency levels for household appliances and heating equipment. Finally, computer software that allows building designers to evaluate the energy ramifications of complex design alternatives, was developed. Currently, this software is used in the design of about 5% of all commercial buildings (by square footage), and users report that it enables them to identify opportunities for saving another 20% of the energy used.
Catalytic converters use platinum-based catalysts to clean engine exhaust. Although we currently salvage more than half of these devices, some are exported to Japan or Europe for processing. Foreign companies typically recover platinum by leaching the catalysts with acids or smelting them in large-scale processing operations. Such operations are not, for the most part, environmentally or financially feasible in the United States. In contrast, the new process is simple, easy to control, and environmentally sound. Estimated capital costs are considered reasonable, and none of the wastes produced require special handling. Pilot tests recovered 90% of the platinum metals from the treated catalysts. These features make the process ideal for small recycling operations.