With help from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) and the University of Central Florida’s Engineering Department, Dais Analytic Corporation, manufacturer of high performance nanotechnology polymers, is taking its new energy saving product to the next level.
SATOP provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through the expertise of the program’s Alliance Partners – 50 aerospace companies and universities involved in the U.S. Space Program. SATOP is operated by the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA) and located in Titusville, Fla.
Dais Analytic’s lead commercial product, ConsERV, is an energy recovery ventilation exchanger that saves money on HVAC cooling while improving air quality in large commercial and residential buildings. ConsERV works by using a membrane to transfer both heat and moisture from a hot, humid fresh air stream entering a building to the cool, dehumidified exhaust air leaving the building. Because the fresh intake air is cooled and dehumidified before reaching the air handler, a significantly smaller air handler can be installed. Not only is the capital cost of this unit lower, it also does not have to work as hard, thereby saving from 35 percent to 50 percent of the energy normally required. The energy recovery ventilator works equally well in winter conditions, where the exhaust air heats and humidifies the incoming cold air.
However, one component in the ConsERV exchanger needed updating to improve its efficiency. “We had developed plastic spacers called flow fields that guided air streams across the face of the membrane in the heat exchanger core,” explained Scott Ehrenberg, Dais Analytic’s Chief Technical Officer. “We wanted to make the core more efficient by improving the flow field design.”
The existing design had already required much costly and time-consuming iteration, so Dais Analytic was seeking top-notch engineering help to streamline efforts. Fortunately, Ehrenberg learned about SATOP, and the free technical advice the program offers, from the Pasco County Economic Development Council. He visited SATOP’s Web site and submitted a Request for Technical Assistance (RTA).
SATOP Senior Program Engineer Ryan Greenough knew the RTA would require a complex computational fluid dynamic analysis and assigned it to Dr. Alain Kassab, a Professor in the Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Kassab possesses an extensive background in fluid thermodynamics with emphasis on numerical heat transfer and fluid flow.
“The analysis of the ConsERV airflow exchange turned out to be very difficult due to the geometry and complexity of the parts being analyzed,” said Dr. Kassab. “Eventually the software showed us the airflow patterns, air pressure variations, temperatures, and air flow velocities within the flow field structure.”
After Dr. Kassab and Ehrenberg reviewed the graphical output from the analysis, they came to the conclusion that further optimization of the design would not yield the desired benefit. “The single most telling graphic was that the current design did not limit the build up of static air boundary layers on the membrane surface,” said Ehrenberg.
Dr. Kassab's analysis prevented Dais from continuing with the current design and pointed the company toward a completely different design that would achieve the desired goals. “The new design will be easier and less costly to produce and will make our ventilator core more efficient,” said Ehrenberg. “We can also implement automated manufacturing equipment that will increase capacity and further lower costs.”