Enabling Co2 Isothermal Compression Using Liquid Piston And Integrated Gas Cooler

By Timothy Kim

New avenues of decreasing environmental impacts and increasing the efficiency of HVAC systems are constantly being explored in the race to reduce carbon emissions and global warming. These new avenues have led to the exploration of the use of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant in refrigeration applications. Many researchers have also investigated ways to reduce the power consumption of compressors, which is typically the main source of power draw for HVAC systems. One theoretical process to achieve this is through isothermal compression. This thesis explores the idea of isothermally compressing CO2 by using a liquid piston and integrated gas cooler to achieve higher efficiencies with this transcritical cycle. A test facility was designed, sized, constructed, and calibrated to emulate the suction and discharge conditions of a typical CO2 system for air conditioning applications. A prototype of the liquid piston and integrated gas cooler chamber was designed and constructed as well. A simulation model was built in Engineering Equation Solver in order to properly design the gas cooler chamber. Other critical components have been carefully chosen to ensure smooth operation of the system. Results show isothermal efficiencies of up to 82.7% during steady-state operation and an isothermal efficiency of 91.2% during steady-state operation with the additional help of evaporative cooling. Comparing this to other conventional compressors give up to 34.2% absolute improvement in the isothermal compressor efficiency. These results show sufficient performance to warrant the design of a fully working prototype despite efficiency/capacity tradeoffs in the system. Challenges had been encountered such as the loss of refrigerant through the liquid piston, which will be accounted for in the next prototype. Discussion of the next prototype includes the use of a double-acting piston and a smaller tubed fractal heat exchanger design.


An Integrated, Multi-Physics Analysis And Design Optimization Framework For Air-To-Refrigerant Heat Exchangers With Shape-Optimized Tubes

By James Tancabel

Air-to-fluid Heat eXchangers (HX) are fundamental components of many systems we encounter in our daily lives, from Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems to electronics cooling, automotive, power plants, and aviation applications. The importance of HXs is evident in the level of investment devoted to HX innovation in recent years. While current state-of-the-art HXs have adequately addressed past challenges, ever-increasing energy demands and increasingly stringent global energy standards require novel tools and methodologies which can quickly and efficiently develop the next generation of high-performance HXs. In recent years, advancements in computational tools and advanced manufacturing technologies have enabled engineers to consider small characteristic diameter HX tubes with novel shapes and topologies which were not feasible even a decade ago. These small diameter, shape-optimized tubes have been shown to perform the same job as existing HXs while offering significant and desirable improvements in performance metrics such as envelope volume, face area, weight, and refrigerant charge. However, the structural integrity of shape-optimized tubes was often guaranteed by utilizing conservative tube thicknesses to ensure equipment safety, prevent refrigerant leakages, and satisfy product qualification requirements, resulting in increased material consumption and manufacturer costs while reducing the likelihood of industry acceptance for the new technology. Additionally, the actual HX operating conditions are often different from design conditions, resulting in significant performance degradations. For example, novel HX design is typically assumes uniform normal airflow on the HX face area even though HXs in HVAC&R applications rarely experience such flows, and compact HXs have been shown to experience water bridging under dehumidification conditions, which greatly impacts HX performance. This research sheds light on the next generation of air-to-refrigerant HXs and aims to address several practical challenges to HX commercialization such as novelty, manufacturing, and operational challenges through the use of comprehensive multi-physics and multi-scale modeling. The novelty of this research is summarized as follows: i. A new, comprehensive and experimentally validated air-to-refrigerant HX optimization framework with simultaneous thermal-hydraulic performance and mechanical strength considerations for novel, non-round, shape- and topology-optimized tubes capable of optimizing single and two-phase HX designs for any refrigerant choice and performance requirement with significant engineering time savings compared to conventional design practices. The framework was exercised for a wide range of applications, resulting in HXs which achieved greater than 20 improved performance, than 20% reductions in size, and 25% reductions in refrigerant charge. ii. Development of a fundamental understanding of performance degradation for HXs with shape- and topology-optimized tubes under typical HX installation configurations in practical applications such as inclined and A-type configurations. New modeling capabilities were integrated into existing HX modeling tools to accurately predict the airflow maldistribution profiles for HXs with shape- and topology-optimized tubes without the need for computationally-expensive CFD simulations. iii. Development of a framework to model and understand the impact of moist air dehumidification on the performance of highly compact HX tube bundles which utilize generalized, non-round tubes. Correlations for Lewis number were developed to understand whether traditional HX dehumidification modeling assumptions remained valid for new HXs with generalized, non-round tube bundles. Such an understanding is critical to accurately and efficiently modeling HX performance under dehumidifying (i.e., wet-coil) conditions.


Analysis of Mass Transfer in Electrochemical Pumping Devices

By Joseph Baker

Considering the environmental challenges posed by traditional energy systems, we must strive to seek out innovative strategies to sustainably meet today’s demands for energy and quality of life. Energy systems using electrochemical (EC) energy conversion methods may help us to transition to a more sustainable energy future by providing intermittent renewable energy storage and improving building energy efficiency. EC pumping devices are a novel technology that use chemical reactions to pump, compress, or separate a given working fluid. These devices operate without any moving parts. Unlike mechanical pumps and compressors, they operate silently, producing no vibrations and requiring no lubrication. In this dissertation, I investigate EC pumping devices for use in two applications: ammonia EC compression for intermittent renewable energy storage and EC dehumidification for separate sensible and latent cooling. Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising technology for on-demand renewable power generation. While storage of pure hydrogen fuel remains a problem, ammonia is an excellent hydrogen carrier with far less demanding storage requirements. EC ammonia compression opens the door to several possibilities for separating, compressing, and storing ammonia for intermittent power generation. Using the same proton exchange membranes commonly used in fuel cells, I demonstrated successful ammonia compression under a variety of operating conditions. I examined the performance of a small-scale ammonia EC compressor, measuring the compression and separation performance. I also conducted experiments to investigate the steady-state performance of a multi-cell ammonia EC compressor stack, observing a maximum isothermal efficiency of 40% while compressing from 175 kPa to 1,000 kPa. However, back diffusion of ammonia reduced the amount of effluent ammonia by as much as 67%. Dehumidification represents a significant portion of air conditioning energy requirements. Separate sensible and latent cooling using EC separation of water may provide an energy efficient thermal comfort solution for the hot and humid parts of the world. I conducted experiments of several EC dehumidifier, considering both proton exchange and anion exchange processes. Diffusion of the working fluid was significant in this application as well. I observed a maximum Faradaic efficiency for dehumidification of 40% for a 50 cm2 cell using an anion exchange membrane under the most favorable case. I developed a novel open-air EC dehumidifier prototype. To alleviate the back diffusion issue, I investigated a method for mass transfer enhancement using high-voltage fields. I also developed a numerical model to simulate the performance of the EC dehumidifier devices, predicting the experimentally measured performance to within 25%.


Numerical Modeling And Experimental Study Of A Novel Metal-Polymer Composite Heat Exchanger For Sensible And Latent Thermal Energy Storage Applications

By Gargi Kailkhura

Compact, lightweight, and low-cost heat exchangers (HXs) have the potential to improve efficiencies and save power and carbon foot print in a wide array of applications. The present study investigates an entirely additively-manufactured novel metal-polymer composite heat exchanger, enabled by an innovative and patented cross-media thermal exchange approach, which yields an effective thermal conductivity of 130 W/m-K for the heat exchanger. This record-high thermal conductivity is more than an order of magnitude higher that the previously reported thermal conductivity for polymer and polymer composite HXs. Drawing on the concept of external flow over the tube banks, the proposed HX features a staggered arrangement of fins. This class of HXs are often used for gas-to-liquid sensible cooling applications. However, they can also be designed for latent thermal energy storage applications by employing low-cost and high energy-storage-density phase change materials (PCMs) such as salt-hydrates and alike in either the hot or cold side of the HX, depending on the application. An extensive literature survey on tube banks shows that, though numerous correlations exist in the literature for flow over tube banks, these correlations usually fall outside the range for the current HX design for low-Reynolds number applications (Re<100). Furthermore, the PCM models present in the literature are either very challenging to solve analytically or are computationally expensive. Thus, the dissertation emphasizes developing computationally-efficient and robust numerical models for sensible and latent cooling applications. The numerical models compute the overall thermal and pressure-drop performance metrics based on segment-level modeling, and they integrate the performance parameters such as Euler, Nusselt numbers, or latent thermal energy with the entire HX analytically, thus significantly reducing the computational cost. For steady-state sensible thermal energy storage applications, a realistic 3D CFD-based modeling approach is used, based on the actual dimensions of the printed HXs rather than a traditional 2D CFD-based model. It also resolves the issues due to the 3D velocity field which aren’t captured in the 2D CFD models, and are particularly important for HXs utilizing narrow/micro channels. This modeling approach is used to obtain optimized HXs for case examples of 5-40 kW air-conditioning applications and 250-W electronic cooling applications for nominal operating and flow conditions. The 250-W unit is further validated experimentally and is observed to be within 17% for waterside pressure drop, 11% for airside pressure drop, and within 8% for thermal resistance when compared against experimental measurements. For transient latent thermal storage applications, an analytical-based 1D reduced order model (ROM) for segment-level modeling is developed based on 1D radial conduction inside the PCM. It is numerically validated with commercial CFD tools to within 10% except for cases where axial conduction in PCM is possible due to the high resistance of wire embedded in the PCM. The 1D ROM is used in optimizing a 1.44-MJ TES unit for peak-load building cooling applications and a 19.2-kJ HX for pulsed-power cooling applications. The 1.44-MJ unit is experimentally tested and observed to be within 17% for the melting time of complete PCM and about 8% for the freezing time of the complete PCM. Lastly, another novel and hybrid thermal energy storage design is formulated, which utilizes two different PCMs: shape memory alloys (SMAs) instead of metal wires and salt-hydrates contained inside polymer channels similar to the reference designs. Besides the thermal energy storage design, a novel methodology on Wilson plot for finned surfaces on both fluid-sides is introduced, which is first of its kind in the literature. Ongoing and future work in both these areas is also recommended in the final chapter of the thesis.


Energy Consumption Reduction Of Commercial Buildings Through The Implementation Of Virtual And Experimental Energy Audit Analysis

By Ji Han Bae

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), about 38 quads of the total U.S. energy consumption was consumed by residential and commercial buildings in 2017, which is about 39% of the total 2017 annual U.S. energy consumption (EIA, 2018). Additionally, the building sector is responsible for about 75% of the total U.S. electricity consumption as well as for about 70% of the projected growth in the U.S. electricity demand through 2040. It is clear that the potential for energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction in existing buildings today remain largely untapped and that there is still much left to explore in respect to determining the best protocols for reducing building energy consumption on a national and even a global scale. The present work investigates the effectiveness of coupling an initial virtual energy audit screening with the conventional, hands-on, energy audit processes to more quickly and less costly obtain the potential energy savings for high energy consumption buildings. The virtual screening tool takes advantage of a customized cloud-based energy efficiency management software and the readily available building energy consumption data to identify the buildings that have the highest energy savings potential and should be given priority for performing onsite walkthroughs, detailed energy audits, and the subsequent implementation of the identified energy conservation measures (ECMs). By applying the proposed procedure to a group of buildings, the results of this study demonstrated that a combination of the software-based screening tools and a detailed experimental/onsite energy audit as necessary can effectively take advantage of the potential energy consumption and carbon footprint reduction in existing buildings today and that the low-cost/no-cost energy conservation measures alone can oftentimes result in significant savings as documented in this thesis. However, selection of the appropriate software was deemed critically important, as certain software limitations were observed to hinder the obtainment of some energy savings opportunities.


Heat And Mass Transfer Analysis And Performance Improvement For Air Gap Membrane Distillation

By Gyeong Sung Kim

Seawater desalination method can be largely divided into evaporation- and membrane-based techniques. From decades ago, the global installation capacity of reverse-osmosis membrane-based seawater desalination (SWRO) started outgrowing that of the evaporative desalination plant due to its higher energy efficiency and it became the mainstream technology in the 20th century. However, small-scale SWRO facilities installed on South Korean islands are not competitive compared to the thermally driven evaporation method as their specific energy consumption (SEC) values are highly ranging in 9 – 19 kWh∙m^(-3) and there have been frequent maintenance events.By taking the advantages of direct utilization of renewable and thermal energy, air gap membrane distillation (AGMD) is investigated in this study as an improved approach. From the preliminary experimental study, it was found that the lower air-gap pressure of AGMD helps to increase its water productivity. However, most of the heat and mass transfer models in AGMD used the constant atmospheric pressure for the air gap. Therefore, new models considering the pressure effect of the air gap is needed. Since maintaining a vacuum pressure in the gap requires additional energy, a vacuum technique consuming less energy is also needed. In addition to controlling the total pressure of the gap, condensation augmentation on the cooling surface on one side of the gap is critical since the vapor flux is dependent on the vapor pressure in the gap. As the preliminary experimental study showed that the dropwise condensation mode dominates the condensation of AGMD, the effect of gap size between the condensation surface and hydrophobic membrane is needed to be investigated. Therefore, this research was performed with the following objectives: (i) experimental investigation and mass transfer model development for vacuum applied AGMD (V-AGMD), (ii) development of a wave-powered desalination system using V-AGMD, (iii) experimental investigation of condensation in AGMD, and (iv) development of condensation enhancement technology for AGMD. From the modeling and experimental research, this study made the following major research outcomes and observations. First, a straightforward mass transfer model was developed by using the concept of Kinetic Theory of Evaporation and temperature fraction value between the fluid temperatures of feed and coolant, based on the AGMD experimental results. This model was evaluated experimentally and showed an excellent prediction of water flux in various air-gap pressures without measuring each temperature of the interface of the feed-membrane-air-cooling surface-coolant. Second, considering that the air gap of AGMD can be operated in a vacuum state using wave power, a novel wave-powered AGMD desalination device was proposed and evaluated for the island’s dwellers. Third, during the whole AGMD tests, only dropwise condensation (DWC) modes were observed on the stainless-steel condensing wall. Therefore, experiments were conducted to understand the physical pattern of DWC from nucleation to departure. After testing under various temperature and humidity conditions, it was confirmed that the average size of the water droplets followed the power law for each case. Fourth, as the periodic cleaning of the condensate wall of AGMD could improve the production of condensate, an experimental study was subsequently performed for the condensation augmentation using an electrohydrodynamic (EHD) method. By both cleaning periodically and applying 2.5 kV and 5.0 kV fields on the condensing surface in a thermos-hygrostat chamber, the water production rate was increased by 32% and 88%, respectively. This study concluded that the performance of an AGMD desalination system can be improved by applying a vacuum or an EHD device in its air gap. Therefore, pilot-scale experiments will be conducted as future studies to evaluate the commercial viability of the improved system.


Development and Application of Solid-Liquid Lattice Boltzmann Model for Phase Change Material in Heat Exchanger

By Dongyu Chen

Phase change materials (PCMs) are widely used in thermal energy storage systems, as they can absorb and release a large amount of heat during the phase change process. Numerical simulations can be used for parametric studies and analysis of the thermal performance of the PCM heat exchanger (HX) to produce an optimal design. Among various numerical methods, the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM), a mesoscopic approach that considers the molecular interactions at relatively low computation costs, offers certain key advantages in simulating the phase change process compared with the conventional Navier-Stokes-based (NS-based) methods. Moreover, LBM is ideal for parallel computing, by which numerical analysis can be efficiently performed. Therefore, a comprehensive solid-liquid phase change model is developed based on LBM which is capable of accurately and efficiently simulating the process of convective PCM phase change with and without porous media in both Cartesian and axisymmetric domains. Double distribution functions (DDF) coupled with a multi-relaxation-time (MRT) scheme are utilized in the LBM formulation for the simulation of the fluid flow and the temperature field. A differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) correlated equation is applied in LBM to model enthalpy, by which the solid-liquid interface can be automatically tracked. The source term in the MRT scheme is modified to eliminate numerical errors at high Rayleigh numbers. Moreover, the conjugate thermal model is adopted for the consideration of heat transfer fluid (HTF) flow and conducting fins. The new model is verified and validated by various case studies. The results indicate that the new model can successfully predict the process of PCM phase change with errors confined to less than 10\%. Parametric studies are then performed using the validated model to quantitatively evaluate the effect of convection on PCM melting, from which the acceleration rates (\(a_c\)) of PCM melting and the threshold Rayleigh numbers (\(Ra_{dc}\)) at various aspect ratios are defined and quantified. Furthermore, PCM melting in porous cylindrical HX is also investigated. The results indicate that the acceleration of melting could reach 95\% compared to that in pure PCM at 60\% energy storage. Moreover, the negative effect of uneven temperature distributions on thermal performance of the HX caused by convection is quantified and analyzed. A modified cylindrical HX that offsets this negative effect by varying the geometry is also evaluated. The results indicate that the modified geometry can successfully enhance heat transfer and balance the uneven temperature distributions.


Optimum Design And Operation Of Combined Cooling Heating And Power System With Uncertainty

By Lei Gao

Combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) systems utilize renewable energy sources, waste heat energy, and thermally driven cooling technology to simultaneously provide energy in three forms. They are reliable by virtue of main grid independence and ultra-efficient because of cascade energy utilization. These merits make CCHP systems potential candidates as energy suppliers for commercial buildings. Due to the complexity of CCHP systems and environmental uncertainty, conventional design and operation strategies that depend on expertise or experience might lose effectiveness and protract the prototyping process. Automation-oriented approaches, including machine learning and optimization, can be utilized at both design and operation stages to accelerate decision-making without losing energy efficiency for CCHP systems. As the premise of design and operation for the combined system, information about building energy consumption should be determined initially. Therefore, this thesis first constructs deep learning (DL) models to forecast energy demands for a large-scale dataset. The building types and multiple energy demands are embedded in the DL model for the first time to make it versatile for prediction. The long short-term memory (LSTM) model forecasts 50.7% of the tasks with a coefficient of variation of root mean square error (CVRMSE) lower than 20%. Moreover, 60% of the tasks predicted by LSTM satisfy ASHRAE Guideline 14 with a CVRMSE under 30%. Thermal conversion systems, including power generation subsystems and waste heat recovery units, play a vital role in the overall performance of CCHP systems. Whereas a wide choice of components, nonlinear characteristics of these components challenge the automation process of system design. Therefore, this thesis second designs a configuration optimization framework consisting of thermodynamic cycle representation, evaluation, and optimizer to accelerate the system design process and maximize thermal efficiency. The framework is the first one to implement graphic knowledge and thermodynamic laws to generate new CO2 power generation (S-CO2) system configurations. The framework is then validated by optimizing the S-CO2 system's configurations under simple and complex component number limitations. The optimized S-CO2 system reaches 49.8% thermal efficiency. This efficiency is 2.3% higher than the state of the art. Third, operation strategy with uncertainty for CCHP systems is proposed in this thesis for a hospital with a floor area of 22,422 m2 at College Park, Maryland. The hospital energy demands are forecasted from the DL model. And the S-CO2 power subsystem is implemented in CCHP after optimizing from the configuration optimizer. A stochastic approximation is combined with an autoregression model to extract uncertain energy demands for the hospital. Load-following strategies, stochastic dynamic programming (SDP), and approximation approaches are implemented for CCHP system operation without and with uncertainties. As a case study, the optimization-based operation overperforms the best load-following strategy by 14% of the annual cost. Approximation-based operation strategy highly improves the computational efficiency of SDP. The daily operating cost with uncertain cooling, heating, and electricity demands is about 0.061 $/m2, and a potential annual cost is about 22.33 $/m2. This thesis fills the gap in multiple energy types forecast for multiple building types via DL models, prompts the design automation of S-CO2 systems by configuration optimization, and accelerates operation optimization of a CCHP system with uncertainty by an approximation approach. In-depth data-driven methods and diversified optimization techniques should be investigated further to boost the system efficiency and advance the automation process of the CCHP system.


Development Of Multi-Stage Elastocaloric Cooling Devices

By Nehemiah Emaikwu

Elastocaloric solid-state refrigerants have lower environmental impact compared to conventional vapor compression refrigerants, but they require significant advancements to gain widespread implementation. Two barriers that prevent adoption are low temperature lift and poor fatigue life. This dissertation addresses those challenges through a single, scalable architecture with the objectives of 1) designing high-performing elastocaloric devices, and 2) maximizing temperature lift. The developed prototype consists of twenty-three 17 mm long, thermally insulated Ni-Ti tubes in a staggered pattern that exchange heat with the surrounding fluid medium through their external surface areas. They are contained inside a 3D-printed plastic that provides alignment and restricts heat transfer to other components. A top loader and fixed bottom plate transfer compressive loads to the tubes, and a 3D-printed housing encapsulates all components. Single, two, and three-stage configurations were experimentally investigated. A sensitivity analysis was conducted on the single-stage device and identified fluid-solid ratio, loading/unloading time, and strain as three parameters that could increase temperature span by over 1.5 K each. The combination of these findings resulted in a maximum steady-state temperature span of 16.6 K (9.7 K in heating and 6.8 K in cooling) at 4% strain and under zero load conditions. The temperature lift was increased in the two and three-stage configurations which achieved 20.2 K and 23.2 K, respectively, under similar operating conditions. Validated 1D numerical models developed for this work confirm that the multi-staging approach positively impacts thermal response, though with decaying significance as the number of banks increases. By further optimizing the operation condition which minimized the water volume in the fluid loop, the three-stage device was ultimately able to develop the largest lift of 27.4 K. The tubes used in the single and two-stage tests also withstood over 30,000 cycles without failure, showing promising fatigue life behavior and emphasizing the viability of this alternative cooling technology.