Research

The Western Cooling Efficiency Center is an authoritative and objective research center at UC Davis that accelerates the development and commercialization of efficient heating, cooling, and energy distribution solutions. Our work is increasingly important as energy policies in the U.S. and California recognize the far-reaching implications of greenhouse gas emissions on our environment and changing climate.

Empower Procurement Product Evaluation Hub

The Empower Procurement Product Evaluation Hub will provide large commercial and institutional customers (e.g., K-12 schools, universities, local/state government, agriculture, commercial real estate) the information they need to purchase advanced distributed energy resource (DER) products through their procurement processes. MORE »

Improving Indoor Air Quality in California Schools

HVAC systems provide necessary mechanical ventilation to classrooms. Ventilation is needed to remove indoor pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide (CO2). There is increasing evidence that CO2 exhaled by occupants is an indoor pollutant that can affect decision making performance. This is particularly important in spaces that are densely occupied, such as classrooms. MORE »

Performance Evaluation of Low Global Warming Potential (GWP) 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 »

Addressing Market Barriers to Evaporative Cooling Technology Adoption with Informational Videos

Many stakeholder groups in the HVAC industry have a negative view of evaporative cooling because of past experiences with low-quality products. One of the barriers to changing these views is lack of knowledge about today’s high-quality evaporative cooling products. WCEC tested two different information platforms to identify the attributes that best address this knowledge gap. 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 »

Solar/Supercritical Co₂ Thermal and Energy Enhancement Laboratory (STEEL)

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »