USA: Emerson Climate Technologies has officially opened its $35m Helix Innovation Centre, the US manufacturer’s hub for heating, cooling and refrigeration research and development.
Situated in the grounds of the University of Dayton, Ohio, the new 40,000ft² Helix Innovation Centre features full-scale, simulated environments, including a working commercial kitchen, a two-story residential home, a grocery store and a data centre.
The Helix also features the Grind²Energy system, Emerson’s solution to turn food waste into energy. Teams will use the facility to generate new ideas and then test them under real-world conditions.
Construction and usage of the facility has been fast-tracked since the July 2014 initial announcement and the Helix has welcomed more than 3,000 participants to innovation workshops just since December.
The Helix is designed to foster an ambitious, collaborative approach to conducting research to create new technologies that address heating, cooling and refrigeration challenges.
“There are some big things happening in our industry right now and we are playing a lead role in many of them. Initiatives like the connected home, the industrial internet of things, intelligent stores, new system architectures that can work with natural refrigerants, and ultra-efficient air conditioning systems,” said Bob Sharp, Emerson’s executive vice president.
“To stay on the forefront, our approach is to look at the entire environment our customers operate in, and this is why we have invested to create this facility.”
The Helix will focus on advancing ideas quickly from concept to prototype. To get there, Emerson says it will collaborate with customers, industry partners and competitors as well as experts from other industries who can bring new perspectives to specific challenges.
For example, Emerson is currently working on a project specifically focused on how to accurately and quickly detect refrigerant chemical leaks in refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
Emerson plans for the Helix to be a global hub of industry education. In addition to the modules, the facility includes three learning labs and the company plans to host industry meetings and hold forums for HVACR professionals on-site.
“With Emerson, we have a link directly to industry and an opportunity very few universities have,” said University of Dayton president Daniel J Curran. “This is a place where our students, faculty and researchers will interact with our partner Emerson in a new kind of collaboration.”
University of Dayton students designed “supermarkets of the future” as part of the E-Week Innovation Challenge sponsored by Emerson during the university’s Engineers Week. Designs were submitted by 45 students.
Top picture: A ticker-tape opening on Wednesday: (l to r) Scott Barbour, executive vice president, Emerson/business leader Emerson Network Power; Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton; Jon Husted, Ohio secretary of state; Ed Purvis, Emerson COO; Dave Farr, Emerson chairman and CEO; Bob Sharp, executive vice president; Dr Daniel Curran, president, University of Dayton