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California offers $4.7m to develop advanced ac

USA: California’s US lead in restricting the use of HFC refrigerants has been backed by a $4.7m grant to develop advanced residential HVAC systems with low GWP refrigerants.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an independent conducting R&D into the generation, delivery and use of electricity, has received the grant from the California Strategic Growth Council, a statewide programme that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The money will also be used to conduct community studies to bring the technology to low-income and disadvantaged Californians. 

Along with California-based energy technology and finance companies Treau, WattzOn, and Otherlab, EPRI says it will help develop, demonstrate, and deploy new heat pumps using low GWP refrigerants. Led by WattzOn, a company which provides utility bill data to energy and credit markets, the group intends to evaluate financing options and study customer use patterns. 

According to the groups, they will also work to expand upon technology being developed by Treau, a seed-stage hardware startup based in San Francisco. Treau is developing heat exchangers and compressors based on soft polymer membranes, which are said to have the potential to make HVAC applications twice as efficient without the need for greenhouse-gas-emitting refrigerants. Treau’s frst product – a room air conditioner – is said to provide the efficiency of a split system unit at the cost of a window unit. 

“Our work will advance the development of a window unit to heat and cool homes at a lower cost for the consumer and the environment,” said Mukesh Khattar, EPRI technical executive and co-principal investigator. “We’re focusing on this efficient appliance because it provides households the opportunity to realise energy savings and contribute to greenhouse gas emission reductions without major capital investment.”

“Our aim is to make homes and families more comfortable while decreasing harmful emissions from traditional heating and cooling equipment,” said Vince Romanin, CEO of Treau. “This grant will help us provide fellow Californians with new options to make their homes more comfortable while saving money and helping our environment.”

Many of the demonstrations and field tests will be carried out in Modesto, California, a city with an average winter low temperature of 40ºF (4.5ºC) and an average summer high temperature of 94ºF (34.5ºC).

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