The Georgia Institute of Technology has been awarded $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to help improve the efficiency of heating and air conditioning systems on the battlefield.
Srinivas Garimella, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in Georgia Tech's College of Engineering, is the principal investigator on the project to develop a highly efficient absorption heat pump for military use.
Georgia Tech's award was one of five announced recently by the Department of Defense-Navy and Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Institute was the only university to receive an award, as private companies are developing the other energy projects.
Garimella's absorption heat pump – an air conditioner and heater in a single unit – is a novel approach because it could be integrated with a diesel generator. By using exhaust heat from a diesel generator that is normally wasted, the pump could lower the amount of energy used for heating and cooling at forward operation bases by 50 percent. It would also be smaller than most pumps and could be mass-produced for a lower cost.
A 2010 Marine Corps assessment estimated that nearly 25 percent of fuel used in Afghanistan goes to heating and cooling structures. The Navy and ARPA-E want to reduce this demand, aiming to achieve 20 percent to 50 percent less fuel usage than currently deployed systems require. The awards are part of a program funded by the Operational Energy Capabilities Improvement Fund (OECIF).
Garimella has been a professor at Tech since 2003. His research is focused on sustainable energy systems, and he is also the director of the Sustainable Thermal Systems Laboratory.