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Clayton Miller, '06 graduate of the Master's in Architectural Engineering program at The Durham School, has won a Fulbright Scholarship to improve the energy efficiency of air conditioning by studying a system model for buildings in hot and humid climates. During his Fulbright experience he is working with Chandra Sekhar at the National University of Singapore (NUS) through mid-2010.
As a Fulbright scholar, Miller plans to prepare an energy simulation model of a building to show the potential energy performance of the newly developed Single-Coil Twin-Fan (SCTF) air conditioning system. The SCTF system, developed at NUS, splits the air stream to building spaces while still using a single coil. This arrangement can reduce the airflow in either air stream, Miller said, to maintain comfort and environmental quality with ventilation and variable control that's valuable for buildings in tropical climates where removing humidity is a challenge.
Miller said this project should result in an improved method of evaluating the energy efficiency potential of the SCTF system. The system has already been implemented in case studies at NUS and is predicted to have energy savings of 20 to 25 percent when compared to conventional systems. He said the energy model and technology produced will provide a new tool for decision making in the early stages of building design.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system accounts for a significant portion of the energy used in a building, Miller acknowledged. And depending on the climate and building type, HVAC systems utilize up to 40 percent of total energy consumption. He added that with many third world countries in tropical climates, it is crucial to implement improved air conditioning systems that provide indoor environmental quality with energy efficiency.
His Fulbright work will include developing a customized module of the energy efficient SCTF system within the EnergyPlus building simulation program. Miller will use that module to show the potential performance of a typical office building under a range of operating conditions and climates, and to compare energy consumption of the SCTF system to conventional air conditioning systems. He said integrating the SCTF system with the American-developed EnergyPlus program will strengthen ties between Singapore and U.S. universities and companies.
This adventure will be a big change from growing up in McCook, but Miller found his urge to travel when he was an undergraduate on a Nebraska Engineering study abroad trip to Italy.
"I love to experience a culture firsthand," Miller said. "The Fulbright is an opportunity to combine my work with my love of travel."
Miller hopes to complete the Fulbright project along with the one-year Master's of Building Science (MSc) program in the NUS School of Design and Environment.
For Miller, it all comes together to promote problem solving. In his Fulbright proposal statements, he referenced the U.S. Energy Information Administration's citing that buildings are responsible for almost half of the U.S. energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions annually (globally the percentage is even higher). With the threat of potential climate change and increased global energy demand driving prices to record highs, he said the need to develop new methods of producing and conserving energy is crucial.