UIC company develops hybrid air-conditioning system with help from DOE
NETenergy, a clean tech startup company based on technology developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago and licensed from UIC, will commercialize its unique hybrid, super-efficient air-conditioning system with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The $500,000 grant was awarded to NETenergy's partner, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as part of the DOE's Technology Commercialization Fund. The International Copper Association and Ingersoll-Rand are commercial partners on the grant, which will provide cash and in-kind matching funds to the project.
The grant will help NETenergy, founded by Said Al-Hallaj, a research professor of chemical engineering in the UIC College of Engineering, to commercialize their hybrid thermal energy storage technology, which is integrated into a cooling system. The technology centers around a "thermal battery" that stores thermal energy as opposed to electrical energy.
The cooling system will run at night, when electricity is cheap, and charge the thermal battery, which will then discharge energy during the day when electricity is priced higher. The goal is to reduce the cost of cooling in commercial buildings, which are subject to additional charges during peak cooling demand times.
"The technology we are developing will allow the size of HVAC systems to be smaller, while performing better and more efficiently," said Al-Hallaj.
The funding will help NETenergy construct a hybrid HVAC prototype and develop it for commercialization in the next 12 to 18 months. The prototype will be tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and validated through pilot testing.