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Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Cooling and Heating Innovation Lab

CHIL groupThe Cooling and Heating Innovation Lab (CHIL) conducts fundamental and applied energy research. Active research areas include applications relating to energy/water nexus, buildings/HVAC, and oil processing. 

Energy/Water Nexus

In the United States, an average 19 gallons of water is required to produce each kWh of energy; reducing the water demand for energy production is a core issue in the Energy/Water Nexus. Condensation heat transfer can play a critical role in reducing water usage and recovering water otherwise lost in energy production. The CHIL lab is actively researching opportunities for improvement: 1) enhanced condensation for power generation funded by electric utilities and 2) evaporated water recovery from cooling towers, funded by NSF.


Completed ASHRAE RP–1630, “Update the Scientific Evidence for Specifying Lower Limit Relative Humidity Levels for Comfort, Health, and IEQ in Occupied Spaces.” Considered effects:CHIL temp on soil erosion
1.  low humidity (40%) on health (i.e., allergies, asthma, disease transmission)
2.  comfort (i.e., thermal comfort, eye irritation, skin dryness)
3.  indoor environmental quality (i.e., indoor air quality, volatile organic compounds)

Oil Processing

Students in the CHIL lab are studying oil and water flows in an industry-funded project.

Contact Information

Melanie Derby
Assistant Professor