STONY BROOK, N.Y. — A Stony Brook University research team has been awarded $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) to develop a smart air conditioning vent capable of modulating airflow distribution, velocity, and temperature, designed for commercial or residential use. Led by Ya Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the goal of the project is to create a vent that results in up to 30 percent energy savings through directed localization of existing building heating and cooling output.

According to the DOE, ARPA-E funded projects have the potential to radically improve U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and environmental well-being. Stony Brook is one of only three institutions in New York state to receive the award. The grant is officially for three years with total funding of $2,049,260 under the category of ARPA-E Delivery Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA) projects. Each of the projects focuses on transforming energy delivery.

Wang and her collaborators Professor Lei He and Professor Qibing Pei from the University of California, Los Angeles will develop the smart vent, called the Electroactive Smart Air-Conditioner Vent Registers (eSAVER), using an array of electroactive polymer tubes that are individually controlled to create a localized curtain of air to suit the heating or cooling needs of a building. The high-tech vents will be designed to the size of the building and can vary depending on whether the building is a large industrial one or small, such as a residence.

According to Wang, the eSAVER is designed to expand the setpoints of building HVAC in each direction by 4°F, resulting in an estimated 30 percent total building HVAC energy reduction. The eSAVER will be manufactured using scalable materials and electronics with an estimated cost of less than $20 per unit. The estimated average electricity savings would be $60 per year per unit.

Publication date: 1/19/2015

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