Recovery Act-Funded HVAC Research Projects
The U.S. Department of Energy was allocated funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to conduct research into heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technologies and applications. Projects funded by the Recovery Act include:
Low Global Warming Potential Very High Performance Air-Conditioning SystemUnited Technologies Research Center and University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
This project proposes to design, develop, and demonstrate a safe, low global warming potential (GWP) Very High Performance Air-Conditioning residential system. The primary objective of the project is to develop a highly integrated system that not only enables the use of low direct GWP refrigerants, but also provides a significant improvement in system efficiency resulting in reduced annual energy consumption, and thus, reduced indirect GWP. The proposed system uses a secondary loop system that combines two high efficiency cycles and will provide a total system solution that integrates and matures the state of the art components and control technology. This residential ducted system will reduce system direct GWP by a factor of approximately 200, and has the potential to reduce residential homes annual energy use by more than 4%.
Development of a High Performance Cold Climate Heat Pump
Funding amount: $1.3 million
Purdue University and Emerson Climate Technologies
The primary goal of this project is to develop, test, and evaluate a high performance and cost-effective vapor compression heat pump for use in cold climate regions. It is anticipated that these system improvements can be implemented with modest consumer price premiums since they are primarily built on already commercialized, mature technologies. The outcome of this project is anticipated to directly yield a pre-production, cold climate, high performance prototype heat pump unit. This project will take a necessary step in the development of core vapor compression heat pumping technologies that can be implemented in a wide variety of end-use commercial and residential products, including new equipment and retrofits.
Development of a Non-CFC-based, Critical Flow, Non-Vapor Compression Cooling Cycle
Funding amount: $2.0 million
PAX Streamline, Inc. and Kansas State University
Current refrigeration technology is based on a process of vapor compression and expansion using various refrigerant gases (many of which are expensive and environmentally harmful) close to thermodynamic equilibrium. This project proposes to develop a novel refrigeration system that uses a cycle involving non-equilibrium shocks and cavitation. This novel refrigeration cycle allows for a substantial improvement in the Coefficient of Performance (an efficiency measure) and the use of a wide range of environmentally benign and low-cost refrigerants. This will dramatically lower the energy requirements for building air conditioning as well as reduce overall chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) use.
Improving Best Air Conditioner Efficiency by 20 – 30% through a High Efficiency Fan and Diffuser Stage Coupled with an Evaporative Condenser Pre-Cooler
Florida Solar Energy Center
This project seeks to improve the best residential HVAC condenser technology currently available on the market by retrofitting the unit with both a high efficiency fan system and an evaporative pre-cooler. The system will be adapted for high performance condensers using variable frequency drives and rotary compressors to achieve superior efficiency. High efficiency fans and diffuser stage tests have shown reductions in overall condenser power of 4%. Evaporative pre-cooling, commonplace in commercial air conditioning systems, is a known means of improving efficiency. This project will combine a high efficiency fan and evaporative pre-cooler and apply it to create the best available condenser technology. It is believed that the use of the two in concert can increase overall performance by 20 – 30%.
Advanced Magnetic Refrigerant Materials
GE Global Research
This project will develop high-performance magnetic refrigerant materials that will significantly enhance the efficiency and commercialization potential of magnetic refrigeration systems (a non-vapor cycle). The commercialization potential of magnetic refrigeration will be enhanced by designing new materials that require a weaker magnetic field to operate and contain less expensive raw materials. The proposed work will enable a 30% increase in efficiency of refrigeration and cooling technology, and will eliminate halocarbon refrigerant compounds with high Global Warming Potential.
Optimization of Regenerators for Active Magnetic Regenerative Refrigeration Systems
Funding amount: $250,000
University of Wisconsin Solar Energy Lab
Active Magnetic Regenerative Refrigeration (AMRR) systems have no direct global warming potential or ozone depletion potential and hold the potential for providing refrigeration with efficiencies that are equal to or greater than the vapor compression systems used today. The objective of the project is the development and improvement of publically available modeling tools that can be used to optimize and evaluate the magnetocaloric materials and geometric structure of the regenerator beds required for AMRR systems. Such a tool will allow the identification of a truly optimal magnetocaloric refrigerant. The development of the modeling tools and implementation of the optimization studies will provide the knowledge base that is required to achieve transformational discoveries. The widespread adoption of AMRR technology would change the character of energy demand in this country.
Energy Efficient Commercial Refrigeration with Carbon Dioxide Refrigerant and Novel Expanders
Funding amount: $960,000
This project will develop a scroll carbon dioxide (CO2) expander with an isentropic efficiency of 75% at design conditions, and will integrate the expander with a semi-hermetic CO2 compressor. The new design will take into account integration of the expander with a compressor for application in supermarket refrigeration. Developmental and formal testing will be performed on the design. To the extent possible, commercially available, off-the-shelf parts and materials will be used. The direct benefit to the U.S. economy of commercially implementing this technology would be over $1 billion per year, based on the energy and maintenance cost savings alone.
An Innovative Reactor Technology to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Funding amount: $760,000
The objective of this proposed effort is to enable a new, more effective volatile organic chemical (VOC) removal technology for residential buildings. This novel air purification technology is based on the combination of an innovative reactor and light source design along with ultraviolet photocatalytic oxidation properties to purify indoor air and enhance indoor air quality. This project will design and fabricate a prototype air purifier, demonstrate its feasibility and effectiveness, and test the air purifier in a simulated relevant environment. Current VOC removal methods do not capture all VOCs or are prohibitively expensive to implement. This project proposes to efficiently remove VOCs from residential buildings using a proprietary photocatalytic air purifier that would account for $2.6 billion of annual savings from residential buildings.