APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Solar thermal systems
- Heating and cooling systems for buildings
- Compressed air source
- Recycling waste heat from chimneys
- No moving parts
- Can pump or compress air
- Materials choices dictated by the operating temperatures
Berkeley Lab engineer Leif Steinhour has invented a heat transfer system that can pump air without the use of moving parts.
Relying solely on the sun or another heat source, a system of helical baffles placed within a section of pipe sets up convection currents and moves heated air in the desired horizontal direction. Because this directed convection is strong enough to compress air, the system can function as a heat pump for the purpose of heating or refrigeration. Unlike fans and compressors, the Berkeley Lab technology has no need for moving parts making it inherently durable, efficient, and economical to build and operate.
The system can be used to recycle waste heat from chimneys, recovering it to preheat incoming air, which would allow for vastly more efficient combustion. Since almost no heat would be lost through the chimney, it makes much more efficient use of the energy source. The technology can also be used to pump a gas or vapor; to heat or cool a building; or exchange air in a building. It might also serve as a solar-powered thruster for a lighter-than-air balloon or airship.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Bench-scale prototype
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
KEYWORDS: pump, solar thermal, HVAC, comfort conditioning, refrigeration, compressed air, compressor, waste heat, heat transfer, heat pump, efficient combustion, balloon, airship
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2013-054