Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) uses up 20 percent of all the energy consumed around the globe. A mechanical engineering research group at the University of Saskatchewan is designing an HVAC system capable of reclaiming up to 80 percent of that energy. The invention has the capability of significantly influencing energy use worldwide. PhD student Davood Ghadiri Moghaddam is part of that group. “Around four percent of the total energy being used in the developed world can be saved … That’s a really huge amount,” said Moghaddam.
Saskatoon-based Venmar CES Inc. collaborated in developing the unit, which it plans to put on the market. The energy the unit recovers would normally be wasted in the building’s exhaust air. However, a component called a Liquid-to-Air Membrane Energy Exchanger (LAMEE), designed by the mechanical engineers, uses membranes to capture and recover heat energy and moisture. “In a conventional system, air is dumped outside. However, there is huge potential in this exhaust air because it was already conditioned with a considerable amount of heat and moisture. It is like free energy,” said Moghaddam.
In today’s technology, energy recovery systems exist but LAMEE is up to 20 percent more effective and can be easily fitted to older buildings. Most other systems require major building renovations. Over the past decade, more than 25 students have worked on the LAMEE’s design and they have built a small-scale testing facility for it. “This facility has certainly improved our research and testing capabilities,” said the facility’s supervisor, Carey Simonson. “It will be a key research facility for my research group for years to come.”
Venmar CES and researchers derive important information from the test site such as how it will perform in extreme weather conditions. “In industry it is very important to be able to predict a system’s performance before building anything. It will save the manufacturer time and money. You must know, ‘Does it make sense to build a system using this equipment? Is there a market for it?’,” Moghaddam explained.
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