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July 2015


DOE Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Refrigerant Replacement

WCEC's Marco Pritoni in the Washington Post

The Western Cooling Efficiency Center was established in 2007, alongside our UC Davis partner centers, the Energy Efficiency Center, California Lighting Technology Center, Center for Water-Energy Efficiency and the PHEV Research Center through a grant from the California Clean Energy Fund and in partnership with the California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research Program.

WCEC partners with industry stakeholders to stimulate the development of impactful cooling technologies that can enable reduced electrical demand, energy and water consumption in buildings.

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To the Western Cooling Connection Update Newsletter! In this month's newsletter, WCEC was recently awarded funding from the Department of Energy to work with industry partners and students on refining and validating an Energy Plus model for hybrid rooftop air conditioners.

WCEC is currently testing a replacement refrigerant for R-410A that promises to be better for the environment and improve overall system performance.

Also included in this month's newsletter, WCEC's very own Marco Pritoni was recently quoted in the Washington Post for his work on thermostat usability and a novel method for studying the way we interact and use these devices.

DOE Funds WCEC UC Davis-Industry Partnership to Enhance Building Efficiency

Building Future Leaders in Energy Efficiency

As part of the Building University Innovators and Leaders Development (BUILD) awards, this funding will support energy efficiency research through undergraduate student engagement combined with industry guidance to create and improve market ready energy efficiency technologies.

WCEC will hire undergraduates to work with manufacturers on a long term research project to increase the viability and usability of a new EnergyPlus solution to model evaporative systems. This model will integrate the function of multiple cooling elements to gain climate-specific advantages in comfort and efficiency.

The project is an excellent opportunity for WCEC to further one of its primary missions, to train future leading engineers in the creation/evaluation of market ready energy efficient HVAC technologies. Read more about this unique partnership »

Reducing Global Warming Potential and Increasing Efficiency: Is It Possible With Just a Refrigerant Replacement?

The ever increasing global climate combined with the modernization and economic growth in countries like China and India have led to an even larger marketplace for vapor compression cooling­—and a larger overall carbon footprint and global warming potential (GWP). Because of the inevitable increase in vapor compression cooling throughout the world, solutions to reduce the global warming potential of each of these units can have a significant impact on our environment.

One part of that solution is to reduce the global warming potential of the refrigerants used in these systems. Accidental release of refrigerant to the atmosphere is inevitable with these systems so it is imperative to identify a working fluid that has low GWP while also achieving acceptable performance and low safety risk to occupants.The predominant refrigerant used in air conditioning equipment today is R-410A. While R-410A provided a good alternative to R-22, recent advances in refrigerant blends are showing further reductions in global warming potential, while also demonstrating comparable performance.

Preliminary results show greater efficiency, less refrigerant charge and less global warming potential than R-410A refrigerant.

WCEC is currently laboratory testing a new refrigerant from Ingersol-Rand that can be used as a direct replacement for R-410A. Preliminary WCEC laboratory test results are promising, with energy savings over 5% at AHRI test conditions, and with less overall refrigerant charge needed than R-410A. Final results and analysis will be available in the coming months.

WCEC's Marco Pritoni Featured in Washington Post Article

WCEC Graduate Student Researcher, Marco Pritoni

As the summer heats up, Americans are running their air conditioning more than ever. Author Chris Mooney of the Washington Post highlights the often overlooked, yet essential component to air conditioning: the thermostat. These devices are often confusing, and that confusion has lead to widespread misuse, increasing energy use and costs to the consumer.

While there are many previous reports that come to similar conclusions, the paper highlighted in the Washington Post asked respondents to upload photos of their thermostats. WCEC's Marco Pritoni, co-author of this research paper is quoted in the Post with regards to these photos, "The responses to this survey paint a remarkable picture of a technology that is widely misunderstood by its users."

Read the full Washington Post article here »

Read the Journal paper written by Marco Pritoni, Alan Meier, Cecilia Aragon, Daniel Perry, and Therese Peffer here »