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University of Maryland Designs Heat Pump Clothes Dryer

September 11, 2013 By Linda Hardesty

clothes dryerFor the second consecutive year, the University of Maryland won the Energy Department’s Max Tech and Beyond design competition for ultra-low energy use appliances and equipment. The team developed a heat pump clothes dryer that is nearly 59 percent more efficient than a traditional electric dryer.

The Max Tech and Beyond competition challenges university teams to go beyond current maximum technology performance levels by exploring new design concepts that could become the next generation of ultra-low energy use appliances and equipment. This experience also helps inspire the next generation of energy engineers and scientists.

With a comprehensive business plan, Ohio State University placed second in the challenge for its hybrid air/water conditioner (HAWC) that can achieve nearly a 73 percent energy cost savings over a conventional central air conditioning, dehumidification, and ventilation system.

In total, eight teams spent the 2012-2013 academic year in their respective laboratories, fine-tuning energy efficiency technologies. Electric clothes dryers consume about 71 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually. The University of Maryland prototype can dry clothes in 2 hours, and has a payback period of 2.2 years. If fully deployed in the United States, the technology has the potential to achieve 25.8 TWh of annual energy savings.

The University of Maryland team is comprised of both engineering undergraduate and graduate students led by Dr. Yunho Hwang, who also led last year’s winning entry, a super-efficient air conditioner. The winning prototype will be on display at this year’s US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Irvine, Calif.

Led by Dr. Mark Walter, Ohio State University’s HVAC system achieves its efficiency gains through the combination of a heat pump with an energy waste recovery component. This component uses waste heat from the air conditioning cycle to regenerate a desiccant dehumidifier and to produce hot water. The first iteration of the HAWC prototype was 18 percent more efficient. When the equipment is system optimized, the project team expects savings up to 30 percent. The team’s goal was to design a unit that was well suited to meet smaller loads and better control humidity, especially in newer buildings that tend to be better insulated and more air-tight.

Funded by the Energy Department’s Building Technologies Office and managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the competition encourages participating students to connect with US manufacturers and license their designs after successful demonstration.


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