HVAC Breaking News

Aug. 12, 2013: ASHRAE Awards First Innovative Research Grants

Goal Is to Encourage More Outside-the-Box HVACR Research

August 12, 2013
ATLANTA — ASHRAE has awarded projects at Purdue University and Oklahoma State University with a newly created research grant, which provides funding for research having the potential to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in HVACR. The ASHRAE Innovative Research Grant carries a base grant of $50,000 per year for two years, with an additional $25,000 available in the third year if matched by an industrial contributor.

“Our goal with the new grant is to encourage more out-of-the-box research to complement the research proposed and guided now by ASHRAE technical committees,” said T. Agami Reddi, chair of ASHRAE’s Research Administration Committee. “We see it as providing seed money to encourage ‘blue sky research’ that may otherwise not be funded initially through other means.”

Recipients are Lorenzo Cremaschi, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University; and William Hutzel, P.E., professor, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department, Purdue University.

Cremaschi’s project, “Smart Nanolubricants for HVAC&R Systems,” focuses on nanoparticles with purposely different conductivity, size, and shape. The research will advance the understanding of the interactions of the nanoparticles with refrigerant and lubricant flow boiling at the nano- and micro-scale levels, for which no previous studies exist.

“This research opens a new frontier for nanotechnology applied to air conditioning and refrigeration systems,” he said. “Driven by higher energy efficiency targets, there is critical need of major heat transfer enhancements in heat exchangers and nanolubricants, which are defined as nanoparticles suspended in high-viscosity suspensions, have the potential to address such need in a cost-neutral manner for both new and retrofitting residential air conditioning applications.”

Hutzel’s project, “Biowall Research,” will evaluate a biowall, which integrates plants with the return air of a residential or light commercial HVAC system to remove CO2 and volatile organic compounds. Americans spend 90-95 percent of their time indoors where levels of pollutants may run two to five times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels, according to Hutzel. Many of these pollutants cause adverse health reactions in building occupants, which can contribute to lower worker productivity and increased sick leave.

Traditional methods of indoor pollutant control in sealed buildings typically use some form of dilution ventilation using outdoor air. The outdoor air must be heated or cooled to meet indoor temperature and humidity requirements and represents a major thermal load of a building.

“This research will demonstrate and evaluate a novel biofiltration system that improves indoor air quality and has the potential for decreasing overall energy use,” he said.

Publication date: 8/12/2013

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