CORVALLIS, Ore. Engineers at Oregon State University have made a major new advance in taking waste heat and using it to run a cooling system a technology that can improve the energy efficiency of diesel engines, and perhaps some day will appear in automobiles, homes and industry.
This heat-actuated cooling system, which will probably find its first applications by the U.S. Army, could ultimately be applied to automobiles, factories or other places where waste heat is being generated, and used to provide either air conditioning or electricity.
In its first military application where stationary diesel generator sets are used, researchers say they expect improved efficiencies of 20-30 percent in situations where cooling is needed.
The system is one of the early applications of microchannel technology that is being developed jointly by OSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, through a joint venture called the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute.
"Our approach will provide a capability that has not yet been achieved for efficiently using waste heat with small-scale systems," said Richard Peterson, a professor of mechanical engineering at OSU. "The technology has been successfully developed and we should have a working prototype ready for demonstration by this summer."
Conceptually, the system works somewhat like existing heat pumps, but it's powered by waste heat, not electricity. What makes the technology unique is the use of microchannel heat transfer components and an efficient "vapor expander" to provide high heat transfer rates and smaller, lighter and more efficient heat exchangers.
"Right now, about 75 percent of the fuel energy in most stationary diesel generators used to produce electricity is lost in the form of waste heat," Peterson said. "And the military often needs these generators to operate air conditioning for advanced electronic equipment and other applications. So we're using th
|Contact: Richard Peterson|
Oregon State University