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Mechanical Engineering Wins First Place in Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition

Mechanical Engineering Wins First Place in Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition

A computer simulation of the complete air conditioning system mounted in a house.
A computer simulation of the complete air conditioning system mounted in a house.

Dr. Yunho Hwang led a mechanical engineering student design team to first place at the U.S. Department of Energy’s inaugural Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition. The goal of the competition was to challenge students to find energy-saving solutions for the next generation of efficient household appliances. The team’s energy-efficient “Separate Sensible and Latent Cooling” residential air conditioning system has dedicated systems for sensible and latent cooling that could reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.

Last year, judges from Berkley Lab selected nine proposals to fund among the more than 20 submitted. Teams were given the 2011-12 academic year to develop and test prototypes.  Graduate students led sub-teams of undergraduate students, while post doctorate Jiazhen Ling and lab engineers Jan Muehlbauer and Daniel Leighton provided training to students from basic lab skills to instrumentation techniques. The key to the team's success was not only their teamwork, but the engineering groundwork laid in the classroom. “Our team excelled because we built a strong energy system and modeling foundation in the classroom with Professor Hwang before brainstorming and committing to a design,” student team leader Michael Siemann said.  Eleven undergraduate students and 12 graduate students participated in the project.
 
The main innovations in the team’s air conditioner design are its dedicated systems for sensible and latent cooling, a cooling wall concept that combines radiative and convective heat transfer in the evaporator, and using heat to regenerate a dehumidifying desiccant wheel that does not use additional energy. The team worked hard to have prototypes ready early in the process to ensure they had time to test the design and modify it if needed.  

Dr. Hwang plans to present the project to the university’s industrial sponsors to gauge interest in commercializing the product.  For more information about Dr. Hwang, visit his profile page.
 

August 20, 2012


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"Our team excelled because we built a strong energy system and modeling foundation in the classroom with Professor Hwang..."



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