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THERMAL AREA

The research lines of the THERMAL AREA focus primarily on thermal aspects of energy systems, but also include the analysis and optimization of complex energy systems, in cooperation, on these cases, with other Institute Areas. The main research areas in this Area are summarized in the following:

1. BASIC RESEARCH ON HEAT TRANSFER AND HEAT EXCHANGERS

This line includes the works whose objective is to generate knowledge in the field of heat transfer without a direct application. Also includes the study of heat transfer in the fields of combustion, fuel cells, biomass, etc.

2. INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY

Prof. Rafael Royo has continued expanding his research and training activities in this field. During the last period, there had been different research work related with infrared thermography. The most important project was the TARGET project of 3 years duration with the company TECNATOM; the objective of the project was to use the infrared thermography technique in the diagnosis of carbon fiber composite materials failure. Among these, is worth mentioning, the thermographic analysis of the different events of the Fallas in Valencia involving fireworks and fires , carried out for the Fire Service of the Valencia City Council, as well as the assistance to the training of firemen in the various facilities available in the city of Valencia.

Also, knowledge about use of this technique in the analysis of buildings have been developed. Infrared thermography combined with blower door analysis has been demonstrated as a very useful tool for designing different Passivhaus certificated buildings in Spain. 

In addition, infrared Thermography is being investigated in the application of active structural elements characterization, so that he finally gets to establish a standardized assay that can estimate the internal composition of the enclosures.

3. DEVELOPMENT AND OPTIMIZATION OF REFRIGERATION EQUIPMENT AND HEAT PUMPS

I. Development of components and equipment

The main objective of this line of work has is the application of modeling and experimental techniques to the development and optimization of cooling equipment and heat pumps and their components. This line includes fundamental research on refrigeration compressors, evaporators and condensers, and expansion valves. It also includes the technological development of complete refrigeration or air conditioning equipment. This line of work is strongly linked to and supported by national and international companies. This period has been characterized by a considerable activity. It is worth noting the annual collaboration with company BSH (Bosch Siemens Home Appliances) to support the technological development of the complete range of heat pump dryers and the energetic optimization of one fridge model. In addition, technological development projects with companies Vaillant in the area of geothermal heat pump, KOXKA in the area of refrigerated display cabinet evaporators and for CIAT spain in the study of evaporators water droplets drag in air handling units. 

II. Natural refrigerants

This research line is considered strategic by IIE. Natural refrigerants can be an excellent alternative for the replacement of  fluorinated refrigerants with global warming potential much lower than that of synthetic HFCs refrigerants. The IIE already has considerable experience in this field and has broad international recognition. The activity in this line of work during the period was also very intense. 

IIE coordinates a project financed by the European Commission in the development of the next generation of high efficiency heat pumps working with natural refrigerants where the partners are European companies like CIAT, ENEX, ALFA-LAVAL, DANFOSS and LU-VE and universities and research centres like Sweden Royal Institute of Technology, Università degli studi di Napoli, École Politechnique Federale de Lausanne, ENEA, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Also, different research projects has been developed with the companies DANFOSS; MAERSK, HISPACOLD and EMERSON. 

4. MODELING SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND COOLING EQUIPMENT AND AIR CONDITIONING

This line of work aims to develop mathematical models of refrigeration components: compressor, evaporator, condenser, expansion device, etc., as well as the development of software to assist the design of refrigeration equipment for refrigeration applications, heating and air conditioning. The IIE has already developed several software packages, which are commercially available in this field. Among them, IMST-ART software allows the simulation of a refrigeration unit with all the main components: compressor, condenser and evaporator, expansion device, discharge, liquid and suction lines, internal heat exchanger,.... The evolution of this software has continued over the past period, with new companies using it. 

It is worth noting the collaboration with the US company MODINE, maintaining and updating the software MPOWER which allows to calculate MODINE products (Fin an tubes and minichannels heat exchangers) in a refrigeration cycle. 

5. ALTERNATIVE COOLING SYSTEMS.

This research line, relatively young in the Thermal Area, has an important activity. First steps in this line was the development of refrigeration adsorption systems using residual heat. Activity during reported period was the study of the magnetocaloric effect in the cooling and heating of electric vehicles. This work is funded partially by the European Union under 7th Framework programme in the project with acronym ICE. 

6. SHALLOW GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS FOR AIR CONDITIONING OF BUILDINGS.

This line of work already has a long history and it is aimed at both the modeling and analysis of ground coupled air/conditioning systems as well as at their optimization, and has been largely experimental. The Institute has a Demo-site, which has been running for over 5 years now. The facility is based on field of 6 vertical boreholes, 50 m. deep each, and is fully instrumented and monitored. Today, it is an excellent test-bench for the study of optimization strategies, from the point of view of both its design and of its operation. In the period covered by this report, it should be highlighted the Institute participation in the project GROUNDMed under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The objective of this project is the construction of 8 demo-sites in different locations in Europe to demonstrate the benefits of geothermal air conditioning, with heating in winter and cooling in summer. The project aims to achieving a seasonal SPF greater than 5, and IIE is leading the task of designing the systems.

7. ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN BUILDINGS

This is another important area of Research that began in the previous period and has grown considerably. This line targets the detailed analysis of the building energy demand including thermal loads but also electricity, water…, and the optimization of the design and operation of the corresponding energy system. In this period it should be stressed, above all, the cooperation with ACCIONA on the modeling and simulation of energy systems of villages and groups of buildings, the optimized design of the HVAC system for schools, and the research on the characterization of the thermal loading and unloading of thermal and cold storages, and the modeling of such devices. Also, the IIE has participated in the project RASOL leaded by AIDICO and funded by the local public institution IMPIVA. 

8. SYSTEMS ANALYSIS AND OPTIMIZATION OF COMPLEX ENERGY SYSTEMS

Analysis and optimization studies about complex energy systems are included in this line using advanced dynamic models created by software like TRNSYS or MATLAB. These models give answers to frequent questions from the companies to develop efficient energetic solutions in different applications: vehicles, buildings, power generation systems, hospitals, hotels, ...