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“Smart” vent receives $2m funding

Dr Ya Wang, left, and Wei Deng, from Stony Brook’s department of mechanical engineering, work on several air conditioning vent prototypes.

USA: A New York university team has received funding of over $2m to develop an active air conditioning vent capable of modulating airflow distribution, velocity, and temperature.

The State University of New York at Stony Brook is to receive the three-year funding of $2,049,260 under the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) scheme.

Led by Ya Wang, assistant professor in the University’s department of mechanical engineering, the goal of the project is to create a vent that results in up to 30% energy savings through directed localisation of existing building heating/cooling output. Dr Wang is collaborating with professor Lei He and professor Qibing Pei from University of California.

Officially called the Electroactive Smart Air-Conditioner Vent Registers (eSaver), it is said to employ an array of electro-active polymer tubes that are individually controlled to create a localised curtain of air to suit the heating or cooling needs of a building. The high-tech vents will be designed to the size of the building and can vary depending on whether the building is a large industrial one or small, such as a residence.

According to Dr Wang, the eSAVER is designed to expand the setpoints of building HVAC in each direction by 4°F, resulting in an estimated 30% total building hvac energy reduction. The eSAVER will be manufactured using scalable materials and electronics with the estimated cost of less than $20 per unit. The estimated average electricity saving would be $60 per year per unit.

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