Energizing an Audience

Author: Emil Venere
Rising energy costs and environmental concerns drew record numbers to air conditioning and refrigeration conferences at Purdue this summer.

About 500 researchers from 30 countries attended the 12th International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference and the 19th International Compressor Engineering Conference. Researchers and industry executives from around the globe, including North America, Europe, Asia and South America, presented talks.

Undergraduate student Robert Johns (far left) and doctoral student Ian Bell (right) work on an Ericsson cycle air conditioning system with visiting doctoral student Vincent Lemort.

The conferences, held every two years, drew about 10 percent more technical abstracts this year, largely because of special sessions focusing on energy-conserving technologies. Engineers presented findings on technologies such as solar-assisted designs, more efficient heat pumps for space heating in buildings and domestic water heating, compressors that integrate devices to recover energy ordinarily lost, systems that use naturally occurring “green working fluids” like air as a refrigerant, and designs that modify the conventional “vapor compression cycle” behind refrigeration.

“Compressors, air conditioners and refrigerators are responsible for a huge portion of the world's total energy consumption. As energy prices increase, so too does interest in more efficient systems,” says general conference chair Eckhard Groll, professor of mechanical engineering.

The conferences covered many areas critical to industry, commerce, and domestic air conditioning and refrigeration. Topics ranged from industrial refrigeration to Ericsson cycle air conditioning systems, including miniature refrigeration systems to cool laptop and personal computers, led by Groll and Suresh Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering.