The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced up to $30 million for a new program to develop innovative localized thermal management systems that cut the energy needed to heat and cool buildings. ARPA-E’s program Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA) aims to develop innovative localized heating and cooling devices to expand temperature ranges within buildings.
While most of today’s heating and cooling systems are designed to heat and cool entire buildings, DELTA seeks to develop both installed and wearable devices that can regulate temperatures in close proximity to a building’s occupants. This localized thermal management will enable buildings to operate in wider temperature ranges while still ensuring occupant comfort, which would dramatically reduce the building’s energy consumption and associated emissions.
Some scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a wristband designed to optimize the thermal comfort of the wearer. The prototype device, dubbed “Wristify,” (pictured) delivers pulsed thermal waveforms to the user’s wrist, taking advantage of the nuances of human thermal perception to create an experience that may be able to influence perceived thermal comfort.