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Power Partners Is Partner In Project To Keep Troops Cool While Using Less Fuel


PNNL Troops next to vehicles

RICHLAND, WA, February 19, 2013 — The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been awarded $2.8 million to adapt its nanomaterial-using adsorption chiller system for field military bases on the front lines of battle. By using up to 50 percent less diesel than the air-chilling technologies currently used by the military, the system could save soldiers’ lives by reducing attacks on troops who transport fuel in supply convoys. PNNL is partnering with Oregon State University and Power Partners on the project. The grant has been awarded by the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy and DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

“PNNL is looking forward to adapting its ongoing research into advanced, energy-efficient cooling technologies and apply it toward important military needs,” said PNNL Laboratory Fellow and project leader Pete McGrail. “Our team has a strong emotional connection to the success of this project, as it could help prevent American soldiers from being injured or killed while moving fuel in dangerous supply convoys around the battlefield.”

PNNL’s system will be a next-generation adsorption chiller that is specially designed to be smaller, lighter, more efficient and operate under the extreme temperatures experienced at bases on the front lines, also called forward operations. The chiller will use a novel nanomaterial called a metal organic framework, or MOF. MOFs are crystal-like compounds made of metal clusters connected to organic molecules, or linkers. Together, the clusters and linkers assemble into porous 3D structures.

PNNL developed a MOF that can hold up to three times more water than the silica gel used in today’s adsorption chillers. This helps make PNNL’s test adsorption chiller system much smaller and lighter. This project will build on advances in adsorption cooling technology PNNL has already made under ARPA-E’s Building Energy Efficiency through Innovative Thermodevices, or BEET-IT, program.

Further improvements for this project will include breakthroughs in microchannel heat exchanger technology and improvements in the MOF’s thermal properties. Both advances will help reduce the size and weight of the chiller further and squeeze out more cooling efficiency. McGrail says the result will be the most advanced adsorption cooling system ever developed.

“By providing the programming, testing and prove-out of the breakthrough adsorption chiller technology, Power Partners participation in the projects exemplifies our company vision of transforming the world through innovative manufacturing,” said Mike Stonecipher, ECO-MAX Business Segment Leader and Power Partners’ Director of Operational Excellence.

PNNL and Power Partners began developing the MOF adsorption chiller for commercial buildings in 2010, when PNNL received ARPA-E funding for the BEET-IT program. PNNL also received ARPA-E funding in 2011 to adapt the adsorption chiller to heat and cool electric vehicles with minimal impact on driving distance.

About Power Partners

Power Partners is a leading manufacturer of overhead distribution transformers, serving utility, industrial and commercial customers in North America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and other markets. The company also produces ECO-MAX adsorption chillers that utilize waste heat to provide cooling and other process capabilities. Power Partners also offers trigeneration packages that combine cogeneration with our ECO-MAX adsorption chillers. The packages enable simultaneous production of power, heat and cooling from a single heat source and result in overall system efficiency, as well as savings in capital and energy costs. Power Partners is located in Athens, GA.  The company is a partner in the EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership (CHP) and in the Green Supplier Network; it is ISO 14001: 2004 certified.