UNL Professor Receives Funding to Make Retail Facilities Energy-Smart

Calendar Icon Apr 09, 2008      Person Bust Icon By Carole Wilbeck | Engineering     RSS Feed  RSS Submit a Story

A project to develop low-cost plug and play automated monitoring, diagnostics and optimal controls technologies by Dr.Haorong Li, UNL assistant professor of Architectural Engineering, has been awarded $201,744 from private industrial sponsors.

The project is of particular interest to retailers because it aims to improve HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), refrigeration, lighting and electrical systems-important in commercial operations. It involves:

  • establishing an automated fault detection and diagnosis (AFDD) laboratory, including two environment chambers, at the Peter Kiewit Institute (PKI) of University of Nebraska-Lincoln; this laboratory is the biggest of only a few such labs in the U.S. academic setting.
  • developing non-invasive plug-and-play AFDD technologies for HVAC&R and lighting systems; 
  • testing, evaluating and demonstrating the AFDD technologies in the AFDD laboratory; and 
  • implementing and evaluating the AFDD technologies in field sites including 18 Target stores.

According to Li, coordinated control systems monitor and enhance systems' efficiency across many variables, stemming excessive maintenance and unnecessary costs.

Li has been advancing research within the energy field for the past 10 years. He developed innovative HVAC&R monitoring and control systems and FDD technology for the business market. His original work, the decoupling-based FDD, sponsored by California Energy Commissioning Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program 2.1, led to significant breakthroughs in both methodology and implementation cost. Earlier this year, Li's project to develop automated FDD technology for commercial building centrifugal chillers was awarded $152,220 from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

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