NIST laboratory experiments have demonstrated that adding small amount of additives to refrigerants may significantly improve the efficiency of commercial air conditioning.
A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researcher has come up with a method designed to improve the energy efficiency of water chillers that cool the nation’s large commercial buildings. The NIST method, if confirmed through experiments with full-scale chiller systems, could save as much as 1 percent of the 320 billion kWh of electricity used annually by chillers or an equivalent 920,000 barrels of oil a day, according to Mark Kedzierski, the NIST mechanical engineer who developed the technique.
The advance builds on past NIST research designed to optimize mixtures of chiller refrigerants with lubricants. The researchers discovered that some lubricants, when injected in small amounts, can significantly enhance evaporator heat transfer, increasing the efficiency of chillers. When they studied the process more closely they found the most efficient heat transfer occurred when the added oil’s surface tension, viscosity, composition and chemical characteristics complemented those of the chiller’s base lubricant.
In a recent paper* describing the method, Kedzierski describes how the right additive forms a very thin covering on an evaporator surface, which produces enhanced bubbling during boiling. The improved conversion of the refrigerant molecules into vapor molecules increases the chiller’s cooling capacity similar to a heat pump.
John Blair | EurekAlert!
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
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