ACT is a leading thermal management solutions provider for the energy industry. We have supported the growing energy use market with advanced technology research and development, custom-manufactured products, and field installation and repair services.
In addition to commercial customers, ACT’s engineering teams have worked on large energy-related programs for NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) organizations including NREL (Nuclear Renewable Energy Lab), ARPA-E (Advanced Research Program Agency-Energy), and INEL (Idaho National Engineering Lab). These projects span a wide range, including Wind Energy, Solar, Fossil Fuel Power Plants, and Nuclear Fission for Terrestrial and Lunar/Martian power.
THERMAL SOLUTIONS FOR A VARIETY OF ENERGY-RELATED INDUSTRIES:
The growing wind energy market is driven by a global ecosystem of government, large businesses, and small businesses working together to drive innovation and create sustainable energy. On-shore and off-shore wind turbines have continuously evolved; scaling physical size, creating higher efficiency, and generating more useable energy. These trends are driving a need for higher-performance thermal management solutions. Wind turbines operate very similarly to a traditional fan in your house, except in reverse. Where fans use electricity to turn the blades and create airflow, wind turbines harness the wind to turn the turbine blades around a rotor, spinning a generator that can create electricity. From a thermal perspective, there is a lot of moving parts, friction forces, and control electronics that create heat. The physical size and the remote locations of wind turbine “farms” make it very difficult and costly to provide servicing. Therefore, any energy solution that provided low energy consumption and little to no maintenance is ideal.
A Loop Thermosyphon (LTS) is an ideal solution for any system that can leverage gravity assist fluid return. ACT systems are fielded in a variety of industries including medical, energy/utility, automation, and HVAC systems. Due to high heat transport capability and passive operation, loop thermosyphons are an ideal match for wind energy applications.
Sealed Enclosure Coolers keep technologies related to ground control clean, cool, and operational. In hot and rugged environments, potential contaminants, or waste heat, risk causing damage to critical technology and machinery. ACT’s Sealed Enclosure Cooling line of units are NEMA rated, ensuring a cut down on maintenance caused by hazardous material compromising protective cabinets.
NUCLEAR FISSION SYSTEMS
Nuclear reactor technology is one of the cleanest and most efficient forms of energy conversion. However; the main concern with these power plants is the potential large-scale collateral damage from an uncommon accident. To reduce safety concerns, Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were developed to achieve safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options. SMRs encompass a relatively small physical footprint which allows the technology to be sited in better-suited geographic locations. Because of this, the heat transport and energy conversion processes were redesigned. Learn More.
In collaboration with the NASA Glenn Research Center on the Kilopower Project, Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) designed and fabricated hybrid screen-groove titanium water heat pipes to dissipate waste heat from nuclear power systems to the radiators, as solely grooved wicks are insufficient for the varied operating environments seen in space.
High-temperature heat pipes are used to passively and safely transfer the heat (fission power generated) from the reactor core to the intermediate coolant.
ACT’s Alkaline Metal Heat Pipes have the capability to operate up to 1100̊C. They are, therefore; ideal for removing the heat from the reactor core – typically measured around 600̊C – at the highest temperature possible in the most efficient manner.
POWER STORAGE AND CONVERSION
In each application, power must be harnessed into usable electricity. Grid-Tie solutions such as power inverters and energy storage systems are required to properly harness and distribute electricity to power our cities. As technology advances, power systems increase in size, speed, intelligence, complexity, and waste heat. These systems rely on low energy consumption, high power thermal solutions.
Research and development is supporting Lehigh University in developing a solid media thermal energy storage device. The purpose of this program is to mitigate the thermal issues facing coal-fired power plants. The system is based on Thermosyphon technology embedded into an optimized cementitious matrix.
ACT’s Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) Cooling products and solutions use a non-corrosive and non-electrically-conductive fluid that vaporizes and cools hot surfaces on contact. These products are ideal for cooling high-power electronics where heat loads have increased to a level beyond what traditional air and water cooling systems can effectively manage.
Phase change material (PCM) heat sinks can improve the thermal performance of power plants by storing thermal energy. This works by storing the low-grade heat during the day and rejecting the heat at night when the ambient temperature is cooler. ACT’s engineers explored the use of salt hydrate Phase Change Material (PCM)
OIL & GAS
Fossil fuel is a non-renewable form of energy sourced from oil, coal, and natural gas. For decades, fossil fuels are extracted from the earth via drilling or mining, burnt to produce electricity, or refined to use as a fuel for heat or transportation. Drilling and mining sites are notorious for their rugged work environments with a risk for debris to clog or damage electronics and machinery. Enclosures protect valuable equipment from debris but are prone to overheating due to extreme ambient temperatures or waste heat created by machinery and electronics. Custom, specialized cooling systems are often needed to maintain the longevity of industrial equipment housed in these protective enclosures.
ACT is delivering rugged, Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) thermal management solutions to global leaders in the oil and gas industry. Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) cooling is a practical solution for high-power capacity inverters and power electronics used in the field. The unit shown to the right is capable of managing over 30 kilowatts of waste heat- ultimately transferring and rejecting heat to the large air-cooled condenser positioned directly above the pump and fluid control assembly. When functioning in harsh industrial environments, the di-electric refrigerant is pumped to the critical electronics components, providing an intrinsically safe and highly efficient cooling solution. These types of solutions are ideal for the oil and gas industry due to their ruggedization and ability to scale to various power and form factor requirements.
Unlike commercial air conditioners, Environmental Control Units (ECUs) are designed to be rugged. They must survive rough terrain and remain operational at the extreme temperatures and conditions to which they will be exposed. ECUs are mobile, capable, durable solutions for environmental control needs.
ACT designs and manufactures both off-the-shelf and custom Sealed Enclosure Coolers designed to dissipate waste heat caused by electronics operating in protective cabinets.
Liquid chillers and heat exchangers are proven when it comes to keeping critical equipment at optimum operating temperatures. With fielded heritage in dozens of installments, these units deliver superior results for high-intensity workloads. Projects such as radar and missile defenses rely on ACT’s chiller units to keep their systems cool and their personnel safe. Thanks to their rugged design and build quality, liquid chillers and heat exchangers can support operations anywhere in the world.
ENERGY RECOVERY FOR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS
ACT designs and manufactures pumped and passive Energy Recovery Heat Pipe Heat Exchanger Solutions for the industrial and commercial markets utilizing the natural passive properties of copper water heat pipes to create an energy-efficient HVAC solution. ACT has engineered custom HVAC systems for over 20 years. These systems have proven to outperform traditional HVAC solutions that many schools and universities have turned to for decades. These systems have zero-cross air contamination as well as a typical payback period of 2-3 years with an expected 20-year lifetime. ACT’s HVAC solutions can be engineered across large distances and most systems are not limited by geometric configurations. Replace traditional energy or enthalpy wheel solutions with ACT’s custom HVAC energy recovery systems.
BTU Company, a Chicago Illinois area environmental control solutions provider, a representative of ACT is set to build eight independent Split-Pump assisted Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers for HVAC system upgrades at the Illinois State University. The upgrades save Illinois State University 40% in energy costs.
Wrap-Around Heat Pipe Heat Exchanger (WAHX) systems can be designed for all major air handler units (AHU) OEMs. Control options, corrosion-resistant coatings, and enhanced dehumidification are all benefits of the Wrap-Around HVAC system. When retrofitting existing HVAC systems, ACT can ship a pre-engineered unit, fully charged and ready to install. ACT offers onsite installation of HVAC systems or units can be factory installed. Typical HVAC design-build/install costs are recouped in a 1-2 year payback period.
Air-to-Air Energy Recovery Heat Pipe Heat Exchanger (AAHX) is a counter-flow heat exchanger-energy recovery system that features ACT’s high-performance, highly-reliable copper-water heat pipes. These systems save energy by pre-cooling or pre-heating your incoming building supply air and save you money on utility and energy costs.
SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTION AND CONVERSION
Harnessing the power of the sun is critical to meeting the world’s energy demands. A multitude of different technologies exists to convert solar energy into electric power or heat. Popular technologies include solar water heaters, concentrated photovoltaics, and heat-engine-based systems. All of these solar applications require appropriate thermal management to maintain performance and cost goals. ACT has developed technologies to aid in the thermal management of all of these solar applications.
One of the most obvious challenges to Solar-Electric power conversion is that the sun doesn’t shine at night, so energy storage is required. ACT has conceived of and has begun to develop a “Dark” Photovoltaic Cell that generates power when exposed to a colder radiative heat sink. Possible heat sink options include cold clear night skies experienced in desert areas, as well as deep space heat sinks for spacecraft power systems.
A loop thermosyphon is a type of high-power heat pipe that works in many cooling applications (computers, HVAC, electronics, etc.).
ACT has experience designing heat pipe heat sinks to spread the heat from the solar cell and dissipate the heat through finned heat sinks. The benefit of this solution is no moving parts, resulting in the high reliability typical of traditional solar panels.
Heat engines, such as Stirling engines, thermoacoustic generators, and thermionic converters, are often used to generate electricity from solar energy. In these processes, solar energy is concentrated onto a solar receiver which absorbs the solar energy as heat. Performance is improved by using ACT’s high-temperature heat pipes to acquire the high-temperature heat from the receiver and transfer the heat isothermally to the hot side of the engine with minimal losses.