Experts chill at cooling, advanced buildings conferences at Purdue

July 10, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers from 30 countries will converge on Purdue University for a trio of conferences focused on creating advanced technologies for air-conditioning, refrigeration and buildings that would be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

About 600 people are expected to attend the 14th International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference, the 21st International Compressor Engineering Conference and the second International High Performance Buildings Conference from July 16-19.

Sessions will cover areas critical to industry, commerce and domestic air-conditioning and refrigeration, said James Braun, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference.

The conferences are held every two years. Participants will present about 400 research papers, a record partly attributed to a new Energy Innovation Hub and the high-performance buildings conference, which was first held in 2010.

"I think there is a lot of interest in energy use in buildings and the equipment associated with it," said Eckhard Groll, a professor of mechanical engineering and general conference chair.

The conferences will include sessions focusing on ways to improve energy efficiency through better control of air-conditioning and refrigeration systems in buildings.

"Commercial buildings in the United States account for about 70 percent of the country's electricity consumption, and a big part of that is for air-conditioning," Braun said. "Overall, buildings account for about 42 percent of primary energy usage in the United States."

Talks will delve into designs for modifying the fundamental vapor-compression cycle that has been used since the invention of air conditioning and refrigeration. Some of the sessions will address the concept of "net zero" buildings that would operate more efficiently and generate some of their own electricity, ending up with a net consumption of no electricity.

Other papers will detail concepts for generating energy from the waste methane in landfills and from the heat generated by a vehicle's exhaust system; designs for compressors that use new and alternative refrigerants that have a lower global warming potential than conventional coolants; technologies such as more efficient heat pumps to provide heating and cooling for buildings and homes in cold climates; systems that use "heat recovery" technologies designed to harness energy ordinarily lost; and new diagnostic systems designed to automatically detect problems in air-conditioning units.

Delivering a luncheon talk will be Gerald D. Hines, founder and chairman of Hines, an international real estate firm. A Purdue mechanical engineering alumnus, he provided a $2 million gift critical for the expansion of the university's Ray W. Herrick Laboratories. The expansion is expected to be completed next year. The new Herrick building will house a Center for High Performance Buildings aimed at improving the energy efficiency, safety, indoor air quality and other conditions in existing and new buildings; and the Gerald D. Hines Sustainable Buildings Technology Laboratory, which will focus on new building technologies and their impact on human behavior and productivity,

The lab will be designed to be LEED certified, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Purdue is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Innovation Hub, a research consortium led by Pennsylvania State University to develop technologies for creating more energy-efficient buildings. A key factor in Purdue's inclusion in the consortium is Herrick's "living laboratory," a working office wing designed with replaceable modular elements related to communications, electronic controls and equipment; moveable walls, doors and windows; a reconfigurable air distribution and lighting system; and instrumentation to monitor systems and occupants.

Research using the living lab will help engineers improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact, Braun said.

The conference will include talks by top executives and researchers including Jean-Louis Scartezzini, a professor from the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; Marcio Luiz Todescat, R&D procurement vice president from Embraco in Brazil; Joost J. Brasz, aero/thermo manager in the advanced engineering group of the Danfoss Turbocar Compressors Inc.; and J. Michael McQuade, senior vice president for science and technology at United Technologies Corp.

Registration will be in the east foyer of Purdue's Stewart Center from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday (July 15), 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday in the East Foyer, and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in Room 110. Most of the conference sessions will be in Stewart Center. A "paper room" to make research papers available to conference attendees will be in Room 302.

Detailed information about the conferences and the approximately 400 technical abstracts to be presented can be found at

The conferences are organized by faculty from Herrick Labs in cooperation with sponsoring and participating organizations. (A list of sponsors is available at

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709,

Sources:  Eckhard Groll, 765-496-2201,
                   James Braun, 765-494-9157,