Research Old

Current Research

Building Auditing and Commissioning Tools

Evaluating the performance of installed equipment can be intrusive and time consuming. The WCEC has two projects focused on developing tools and techniques aimed at simplifying these measurements.


HVAC Air Trap Testing

P-traps are often installed on air conditioner condensate drains to prevent air leaks. The HVAC Air-trap from Des Champs Technologies is designed to eliminate air leakage from condensate drainpipes and reduce the space required for the trap.


Improving Indoor Air Quality in California Schools

Conducting research to understand and improve ventilation and indoor air quality in schools.


Empower Procurement Product Evaluation Hub

Providing large commercial and institutional customers the information they need to purchase advanced distributed energy resource products through their procurement processes.


Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Residential Heating Technologies in USA

Replacements of residential gas furnaces with electric heat pumps can reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions associated with heating. However, the impact on CO2 emissions is dependent upon weather and the local carbon emissions of the electric grid. WCEC used whole-building energy simulation to predict the change in annual CO2 emissions resulting from replacement of residential natural gas furnaces with heat pumps in the contiguous 48 states in the United States.


Performance Evaluation of Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants

Refrigerants used in vapor-compression air conditioners and heat pumps have a high global warming potential (GWP). To help reduce the effects these greenhouse gasses have on our atmosphere, companies are developing alternative refrigerants with lower GWP. WCEC is testing these new refrigerants to determine their performance across a variety of test scenarios. MORE »

Advancing Microchannel Technology in Heat Exchangers and Heat Management Devices

WCEC developed the Solar/Supercritical CO₂ Thermal and Energy Enhancement Laboratory (STEEL) to advance research in heat exchanger technology for a variety of applications such as solar power generation, thermal desalination, waste heat utilization, and solar fuels. The STEEL facility is equipped with a 7-m parabolic solar dish that is capable of concentrating sunlight by nearly 1,000 times at the focal area. MORE »

Aerosolized Sealant for Building Envelopes

Air leaks in buildings contribute to energy use by allowing uncontrolled airflow between conditioned and unconditioned spaces. Current methods for tightening building shells have relied primarily on manual sealing methods that are labor intensive and often insufficient, particularly in retrofit applications. WCEC patented, and is testing an aerosol envelope sealing process, AeroBarrier, to improve sealing effectiveness, reduce labor costs... MORE »

Improving Water and Energy Efficiency in California’s Dairy Industry

It is critical to keep dairy cows cool during California’s hot summers. Standard cooling methods, however, such as fans and spraying cows with water, require substantial amounts of electricity and water. With the goal of reducing electricity and water consumption, WCEC and the UC Davis Department of Animal Science tested three novel approaches for cooling dairy cows in California. MORE »

Past Research

RTU Optimization

Packaged compressor-based air-conditioning and heating roof top units (RTUs) provide a significant amount of the cooling for commercial spaces in California. Optimizing the efficiency of RTUs can reduce the strain put on the California electric grid from compressor based cooling. MORE »

Next Generation Residential Space-Conditioning System

Space conditioning systems can have a profound impact on comfort and energy efficiency. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), funded by the California Energy Commission, is integrating several advanced technologies into a single space-conditioning system for residential buildings that is cost-effectively optimized for California’s climate. MORE »

Innovations in Ground-Source Heat Pumps

This project, funded by the California Energy Commission, demonstrates a less expensive method for implementing ground-source heat pump technology by using shallow-bore helical ground source heat exchangers (GHEs) instead of deep vertical bores. MORE »

Dispatchable Pre-Coolers

Condenser-air pre-coolers evaporate water into the airstream used for heat rejection from an air conditioning system. The evaporative process reduces the air temperature and allows the air conditioner to operate more efficiently at higher outdoor air temperatures. WCEC’s previous work has illustrated the energy and demand savings potential of condenser-air evaporative pre-coolers in the hot-dry California climate... MORE »

Using Waste-Heat from an Air Conditioner to Heat a Hotel Swimming Pool

Air conditioning loads drive peak demand and contribute to overall electric power consumption in California. In the summer, cooling loads are highest in the middle of the day when air conditioners are the least efficient. Rejecting waste heat from an air conditioner to a swimming pool rather than to the outside air can significantly reduce electricity demand. MORE »

Valuation of Thermal Energy Storage for Utility Grid Operators

Most air conditioning systems remove heat from a building at precisely the time that cooling is needed. Thermal energy storage (TES) systems operate like air conditioning systems except that they remove heat from an intermediate substance (e.g., water, ice or eutectic salt solutions) at a time when the building doesn’t actually need cooling. In this way, cooling is stored before it is needed, giving TES systems the ability to shift demand on the electric grid. MORE »

Water Management for Evaporative Condensing Units

Water management of evaporative cooling units is essential and particular care must be taken to reduce the effects of hard water on the system, often resulting in the use of additional water (or a bleed-off) to reduce mineral precipitation and maintain longevity. MORE »