Andrew Fix Joins CEEE Research Team

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For his dissertation, Andrew Fix developed a dehumidification system that uses water vapor selective membranes, avoiding the need for energy-intensive water condensation.

The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) welcomes Andrew Fix as a postdoctoral research associate in its Consortium for Energy Efficiency and Heat Pumps (EEHP). Fix earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, where he worked as a Laura Winkelman-Davidson Fellow, DOE IBUILD Fellow, and Dean’s Teaching Fellow, in addition to mentoring undergraduate researchers.

His dissertation focused on selective membrane-based air conditioning, which offers an energy-efficient way to dehumidify the air. It’s estimated that 10% of global electricity is spent on cooling and ventilating buildings, and more than half that energy is spent dehumidifying, rather than simply cooling. Traditional air-conditioning systems use condensation to remove water from the air. For his dissertation, Fix developed a dehumidification system using water vapor selective membranes. His prototype used a pump to pull water out of the air and across the membrane, removing the need for energy-intensive water condensation.

At CEEE, Fix’s research focuses on heat pump technology. “Heat pumps are the future of buildings,” he says. “A heat pump is the technology behind most air conditioners, and now heat pumps are increasingly being used in reverse to heat buildings,” he says, pointing out that for the last two years, electric heat pumps have outsold gas furnaces. But heat pumps have some shortcomings; most notably, they struggle to perform in extremely cold climates. Fix is excited about collaborating with the EEHP team on developing the next generation of heat pumps that can perform efficiently even on the coldest days. “Maryland is a natural fit for my postdoctoral work,” says Fix. “Seeing how important heat pumps are going to be for the future, I wanted to do a postdoc that would focus on this technology. CEEE is one of the best places for heat pump research.”

Published April 18, 2024