Dr. Li Song, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Oklahoma (OU), has secured a $1.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a system that meets simultaneous heating and cooling demands at military installations, aiming to boost efficiency and reliability.

This three-year grant is part of the DOD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, which selected 50 groundbreaking projects for fiscal year 2023. The initiative, titled “Performance demonstration of an integrated water-source heat pump water heater system to meet simultaneous heating and cooling demands at military installations,” focuses on reducing carbon emissions at military sites.

In line with a recent Executive Order from the Biden Administration, federal agencies are tasked with transitioning to carbon-free electricity and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, current technologies fall short of supporting this transition, and Dr. Song and her team are striving to bridge this gap.

According to Dr. Song, the research team’s technology provides an effective electrification approach for military installations that have simultaneous cooling and heating loads due to its attractive return on investment. The team proposes an integrated water-source heat pump water heater system designed to seamlessly address both heating and cooling demands while enhancing the reliability of existing systems.

The project is being conducted at Tinker Air Force Base in collaboration with the Building Energy Efficiency Laboratory at OU, the HVAC laboratory at the University of Miami, and industry partners Trade Mechanical Contractors Inc. and Honeywell.

The team will focus on demonstrating the integrated water-source heat pump water heater system, assessing design and installation costs, validating real-world performance, and facilitating technology transfer and commercialization. This system promises to double the efficiency of traditional methods, potentially saving $69,000 annually and reducing carbon emissions by 500 tons at Tinker Air Force Base, aligning with federal mandates to decrease natural gas consumption.

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