February 26, 2019
A research team at the University of Saskatchewan is hoping to solve an age-old dilemma in home heating and cooling with the help of a novel technology.
Uctupus, an intelligent multi-zone energy distribution system, aims to distribute air to maintain room temperature without requiring any modifications to a home’s ducting system or replacing the furnace.
The project to develop the technology is led by USask post-doctoral fellow Farid Bahiraei, mechanical engineering professor Carey Simonson and industry partner Soheil Akbari of SenergyK Innovative Creations (SIC).
“To keep costs low, current forced air HVAC systems in homes are designed to treat the house as a single zone, distributing air through ducts to all rooms through a furnace that is controlled by a single thermostat,” Simonson said. “With this system, you cannot actively and independently control the temperature in each room.”
To enable temperature control in each zone, the team is developing remotely controllable vents that can adjust airflow to each room at the command of a central controlling device (CCD) that follow instructions from the home occupant.
A sensor plugged into an electrical outlet in each room or zone will report temperature, humidity, motion, sound and light to the CCD A every few seconds. The central device optimizes the furnace airflow distribution by adjusting vents as needed to maintain the desired room climate.
The central control system is designed to “learn” the thermal characteristics of the home and operate the vents as needed to maintain the temperature of specific zones.
Akbari said he hopes the technology will find applications in HVAC retrofits of commercial and industrial buildings, as well as in net zero energy buildings.
While the team will be working out some technical and hardware challenges over the next few months, they hope to finalize a beta version to install in a few buildings for testing. www.usask.ca www.uctupus.ca