ACT Awarded $4.3M to Develop Technologies for Dry Cooling

Lancaster, Pennsylvania – June 8, 2015. Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) has been selected to develop multiple technologies that can enable dry cooling for thermoelectric power generation, securing over $4.3M in research and development funding.  Dry cooling heat exchangers, as a replacement for wet cooling towers, are becoming of increasing importance as water shortages threaten the availability of water to cool our power plants.  Today, power plants consume approximately 40% of the fresh water used every day.  The technologies that ACT has proposed show promise to help eliminate water usage by dissipating heat directly to air, while maintaining the overall power plant efficiency.

“Forecasted water shortages over the next few decades threaten our ability to farm and provide electricity,” stated Dr. Richard Bonner, Principal Investigator and Manager of Custom Products, “it is our privilege to lead several dry cooling technology development programs chartered with solving such an important challenge.”

In February, ACT was awarded a Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II program to develop a dropwise condensation solution that will reduce the thermal resistance on the inside of steam condensing tubes.  ACT plans on leveraging its porous metal and hydrophobic coating expertise to develop a solution that is high performance, reliable, and cost effective.  The two year, $1.1M program will result in a sub-scale pilot demonstration of a dry cooling radiator enhanced with the proposed dropwise condensation solution.

ACT’s dry cooling technology is looking to improve water usage efficiency in these large power plants

ACT’s dry cooling technology is looking to improve water usage efficiency in these large power plants

In May, the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $3.2 million in funding to ACT, University of Missouri, Lehigh University, and Evapco, Inc. to help create highly efficient and scalable dry-cooling technologies for thermoelectric power plants. The project is funded through the Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program, one of ARPA-E’s newest programs.  The team will develop a novel cool storage system that collects and stores heat rejected from a power plant condenser during the day until the waste heat can be more efficiently rejected during the night at lower ambient temperatures. The technology will utilize an array of heat pipes to transfer heat to the thermal storage unit, and will incorporate self (flow-induced) agitated fins to increase air-side heat transfer by 230%. The team will also tailor the thermal properties of the thermal storage media, which will allow the system to be optimized for use in climates with different daytime and nighttime temperatures.

“Evaporative cooling with water is very efficient,” observes Dr. Chien-hua Chen, Lead R&D Engineer, “We realize that advancements in multiple heat transfer technologies and advanced systems level architectures are required to meet the thermal challenge in front of us.”

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Pete Ritt
Vice President, Technical Services

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