ATLANTA - From smart home controls to solar-powered gas refrigeration, undergraduate HVACR students in their senior year are gaining hands-on experience in their field thanks to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 2010-11 Undergraduate Senior Project Grants.

The grants, totaling some $65,000, are awarded by ASHRAE to colleges and universities worldwide to promote the study and teaching of HVACR, encouraging undergraduate students to pursue related careers. The grants are used to design and construct projects.

This year, 14 schools from across the country and around the world were awarded grants, with Purdue University-West Lafayette ranking the highest among the applicants for its proposal to develop smart home controls. As the top grant award winner, two students from the university have been invited to present their project as part of the Student Program at the 2011 ASHRAE Winter Conference in Las Vegas.

“Purdue University is designing and building a net zero energy home that will showcase a variety of new technologies for residential construction,” said Bill Hutzel, faculty advisor for the project.

ASHRAE said the grant will provide the crucial infrastructure for monitoring and controlling the mechanical, electrical, lighting, and other systems in the smart house by developing the controls schematic; developing the sequence of operation; developing the control code; installing the controls and sensors; and commissioning the building systems.

The smart house will become a multidisciplinary living laboratory for large numbers of university students interested in low energy residential construction. The school also anticipates displaying the home to media, contractors, and the public, and predicts that at least 500 Purdue students will visit the home annually over a two-year period.

“This will be a fun and exciting project and great way to get students interested in HVACR careers,” Hutzel said.

Other ASHRAE grant recipients are:

• Purdue University–Calumet, Energy Efficient HVACR Using Evaporative Cooling

• California Maritime Academy, Solar Absorption Refrigeration Unit

• Texas A&M University, Thermal Energy Storage Using Phase Change Materials and Carbon Nanotubes

• Florida International University, Design and Testing of an Add on Rain Water External Radiant Wall Siding as both Thermal Mass and Heat Dissipater

• Penn State, Controlled Exposure Experimentation Reactors and Ambient Response Facility for Student Experiments/Demonstrations

• Widener University, Laboratory Ice Storage Cooling System for Air Conditioning Application

• Montana State University, Modulating Scroll Compressor Energy Efficiency Experiment

• UNC-Charlotte, group 2, Vapor Absorption Refrigeration Trainer

• University of Wyoming, Comprehensive Study to Evaluate HVAC Systems and Envelope Performances

• Hofstra University, Solar Powered Gas Refrigeration Experiment

• American University of Beirut, Study of Performance of a Solar Assisted Liquid Desiccant System To Supply Building Fresh Water and Cooling Needs by Modeling and Experimentation

• University of North Texas, Harvesting Built Environments for Global and Accessible Modular Energy Audit Training

• Oral Roberts University, Swirling Pipe Flow Laboratory

For more information on the grant program, visit ASHRAE will begin accepting applications for the 2011-12 program in August 2010, with a December 2010 final deadline.

Publication date:05/31/2010