HVAC energy efficiency company to help reduce power consumption in chillers

HVAC energy efficiency company Optimum Energy will help manage chiller systems and optimize air conditioner chiller performance with its software.

By Michael Kanellos, greentechmedia March 10, 2010

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has launched an effort to replace the mechanical compressors in refrigerators and air conditioners with thermoacoustic compressors. Thermoacoustic compressors essentially compress or expand gases with high-intensity sound waves. Compressing gases generates heat, while letting the gases expand cools things off. Think of the chill that gets created when a carbon dioxide cartridge is suddenly discharged and the gas is allowed to expand.

Mechanical compressors work on the same principle. Mechanical compressors, however, typically only achieve around 12 % of the theoretical maximum. Thermoacoustic compressors can triple (or more) that efficiency rating because of the inherent properties of sound waves.

Thermoacoustic compressors are employed in labs to turn atmospheric gases like nitrogen into extremely chilly liquids. However, that equipment works best in extreme situations and is not particularly efficient or economical for keeping office buildings at 72 F. PARC’s breakthrough lay in devising a thermoacoustic device for ambient temperatures.

The company is currently trying to convince utilities to cover the cost of swapping out existing, inefficient air conditioners in certain regions with their units: Ice Energy’s Ice Bear units make the ice at night and therefore curb peak power consumption.

Other companies to track:

• Chromasun , a solar-powered air conditioner company founded by Ausra co-founder Peter Le Lievre
• Calmac , a producer of large-scale ice air conditioners
Coolerado , a novel system that extracts heat with mist via the Maisotsenko Cycle
• Optimum Energy , software for optimizing air conditioner chiller performance
• Anyone with desiccant coolers (a gel that shifts from solid to vapor to eliminate heat).
Read the full article, with links to more information, here .