July 5, 2016

Air conditioning, refrigeration conferences at Purdue to address climate change, 'intelligent buildings' and design innovations

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As the world swelters toward a third straight year of record-breaking heat, experts in air conditioning and refrigeration are chilling out during three international conferences this month at Purdue University.

"This year's conferences are happening at a time when key international decisions are helping to define the direction of issues related to the environment, climate change, solar and other technologies," said Eckhard Groll, the Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering and general conference chair.

Around 800 people are expected to attend the 16th International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference, the 23nd International Compressor Engineering Conference and the fourth International High Performance Buildings Conference from July 11-14. The conferences are hosted by the Purdue Center for High Performance Buildings in the university's Ray W. Herrick Laboratories.

The conferences are held every two years. Participants will present a record 476 papers including talks related to more energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, "intelligent buildings" and various innovations related to air conditioning, refrigeration and compressors.

Sessions will cover areas critical to industry, commerce, and domestic air-conditioning and refrigeration and include talks on innovative design concepts aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving performance, said James Braun, the Herrick Professor of Engineering and chair of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference.

"Buildings require large amounts of energy for heating, cooling and ventilation, lighting and appliance services, and there is more interest lately in energy efficiency," said Braun, director of the Center for High Performance Buildings. "We also have introduced an intelligent building operations workshop, and that is attracting new participants."

Buildings are responsible for roughly 40 percent of the nation's energy use, more than 70 percent of electricity consumption and more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Various concepts and findings being reported during the three conferences have implications for energy efficiency and the environment. This year is on track to become the hottest on record, following record years in 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, the global use of air conditioning is expected to rise dramatically by 2030, adding around 700 million air conditioners, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"The question is, where is all of the energy coming from to operate these additional systems?" Groll said. "This expansion in air conditioning and refrigeration will drive greater needs for energy efficiency and environmental considerations."

A keynote talk at 9:30 a.m. Monday (July 11) in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse will focus on climate-change issues related to air conditioning and refrigeration. The talk, titled "Climate action driving our future forward, key perspectives on climate change and refrigeration and air conditioning linkages from the World Bank Montreal Protocol Program," will be presented by Viraj Vithoontien, program leader of the World Bank's Montreal Protocol Program.

A talk about solar energy at 8:30 a.m. July 12 in Loeb Playhouse will be presented by Ian Beausoleil-Morrison, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University in Canada. His talk, "Maximizing the use of solar energy to radically reduce the energy needs of housing," will demonstrate new techniques in solar energy including a "hybrid active-passive system" and concepts for the long-term storage of solar thermal energy in homes.

A talk at 8:30 a.m. July 13 in Loeb Playhouse will be presented by Drusilla Hufford, director of the Stratospheric Protection Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She will discuss her work on cutting U.S. production of ozone-depleting and climate changing refrigerants, alternatives for use in major industrial and consumer sectors, and encouraging responsible refrigerant management through regulations and partnerships with supermarkets and grocery stores, appliance retailers, equipment manufacturers, states and utilities.

The chemical industry has developed new refrigerants called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), designed to replace conventional refrigerants, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

"The HFOs have a very low global warming potential, on the order of 3 to 5 compared to 2,000-5,000 for HFCs," Groll said.

Global warming potential is a measure of a chemical's contribution to the global warming. Carbon dioxide has a global warming potential of 1. However, various refrigerants have far greater global warming potentials.

A talk at 8:30 a.m. on July 14 in Loeb Playhouse will focus on a type of compressor called a scroll compressor, which is more efficient than conventional compressors. Gene Fields, vice president of Global Compressor Technologies at Johnson Controls, will deliver the talk titled "The past, present, and future of scroll compressors."

Groll and Braun have been working on scroll technology for about 20 years.

"It is the fastest growing type of compressor on the market," Groll said.

The compressors are more efficient and make less noise than conventional compressors and might be used to recover energy normally lost as heat during compressor operation.

Researchers also will present papers on natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and ammonia. Carbon dioxide was the refrigerant of choice during the early 20th century, but it was later replaced with synthetic chemicals, which are now being phased-out due to their detrimental effects on the environment.

Two papers will be presented on projects to improve the efficiency of Purdue plants that provide chilled water for building cooling, steam for heating and electricity for the campus. The papers will be presented by Braun, W. Travis Horton, an associate professor of civil engineering with a courtesy appointment in mechanical engineering, and their students. Horton is chair of the compressor conference.

The conferences also will include student paper competitions. Six papers in a range of subjects have been selected as finalists and will be presented.

"We really are student-friendly in these conferences," Braun said.

The conferences will include tours of facilities housed in the university's Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, a hub of industry-oriented research in areas ranging from advanced automotive technologies to "smart" buildings. The new 68,000-square-foot building houses the Center for High Performance Buildings, where research is focused on equipment and operational technologies to make possible future buildings that are safer, more environmentally and user friendly, energy efficient, productive and comfortable.

The conferences will include a Sunday (July 10) workshop on intelligent building operation, and short courses on oil management compressors and their systems, and final frontiers in vapor compression cycle efficiency.

On-site registration is available daily in Stewart Center's east foyer. Most of the conference sessions will be in Stewart Center. The on-site registration fee is $750 and is $350 for students. Detailed information about the conferences and technical abstracts to be presented can be found at http://engineering.purdue.edu/Herrick/Events

The conferences are organized by faculty from Herrick Labs in cooperation with sponsoring and participating organizations. A list of sponsors is available at https://engineering.purdue.edu/Herrick/Events/Conferences

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Sources:  Eckhard Groll, 765-494-7429, groll@ purdue.edu

James Braun, 765-494-9157, jbraun@ purdue.edu

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