UM Engineers Offer Long-Term Relief for Heating and Cooling Costs

As winter marches on, and with energy resources in question after a disastrous hurricane season, American homeowners are opening their energy bills with trepidation, and heating and cooling system manufacturers are seeking ways to offer them relief.

New software developed at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, with support from industry sponsors, may provide some answers. Called CoilDesigner, it helps manufacturers design customized heating and cooling systems that cost less to build and use less energy. The result could be dramatic savings for consumers as early as 12 months from now.

“CoilDesigner can help designers reduce heating system equipment costs by more than 10 percent,” says Reinhard Radermacher, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering at the Clark School and an internationally recognized expert in energy conversion systems; in particular integrated cooling, heating and power (CHP) systems, heat pumps, air-conditioners and refrigeration systems. “It also gives manufacturers the ability to design products that could use less energy to heat and cool homes, and even switch from gas-powered components to electricity-powered components on the fly, depending on prevailing energy prices. The advantages to system manufacturers and their customers will be significant.”

Developed with the support of industrial sponsors such as YORK, a Johnson Controls Company, CoilDesigner software allows manufacturers to search through millions of design options to create the most efficient and/or lowest-priced heat pump or air conditioning system for their clients’ needs.

“CoilDesigner’s analysis tools pointed us in the right direction,” says Mahesh Valiya Naduvath, manager of YORK/Johnson Controls’ engineered systems heat transfer team. “The software’s features and capabilities are very user-friendly.”

When used early in the product design process, the software can provide significant benefits to manufacturers, which in turn can mean cost savings for consumers, Radermacher says. “The benefits to consumers from this design software could be seen as early as 12 months from now.”

There are several programs available as part of the CoilDesigner package. CoilDesigner is a tool for creating air-cooled heat exchangers used in a range of applications, from automotive radiators and climate control components to air-conditioners, heat pumps and refrigeration systems of a wide range of sizes. Two of these programs include VapCyc and TransRef. VapCyc simulates vapor compression cycles (the processes that make heat pumps work) in residential air conditioners, heaters and various types of refrigeration systems, and allows for the optimization of efficiency and cost. TransRef helps in the design of the controls of these systems.

Software features include a user-friendly interface specifically geared towards the needs of design engineers and allows for programming by multiple users. Other utilities include unit converters and calculators for assorted variables.

Center for Environmental Energy Engineering Integrated Systems Optimization Consortium

ISOC Software Datasheet (pdf)

Published January 15, 2006