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Jason Loprete
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2300, USA

Tom Butcher
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, U.S.A.

Rebecca Trojanowski
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA

Deodutt Kotasthane
Department of Mechanical Engineering, SUNY Stony Brook University, New York-11794, USA

Jon P. Longtin
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stony Brook University, NY, USA; Center for Accelerator Science and Education, Stony Brook University, NY, USA

DOI: 10.1615/TFEC2020.hte.032438
pages 421-433


According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential space heating accounts for almost 10% of the nation's total energy consumption. A popular method in the Northeast, hydronic heating, is often designed to operate at a supply temperature of 82.2 °C (180 °F), with performance decreasing as the temperature is lowered. Next-generation technologies, including condensing boilers, geothermal systems, and solar-based heating systems have improved efficiency at supply temperatures below 60 °C (140 °F), but most hydronic heating units are unable to take advantage of this due to the decrease in performance incurred. The proposed solution is a forced-air-assist retrofit that can be added to an existing baseboard unit that will allow it to operate at the lower water supply temperatures associated with modern heating equipment. This is accomplished through a combination of DC fans and baffles that entrain and redistribute airflow in a manner that is preferable for heat transfer. The system in its current state incorporates 5 fans per linear foot of baseboard and can double the performance of an existing baseboard unit operating at a supply temperature of 60 °C. This exceeds the 0.58 kW/m (600 BTU/hr-ft) heat rating supplied by the manufacturer when the system operates at 82.2 °C, indicating the potential to lower the water supply temperature even further. Future work includes the optimization of the baffles and the number of fans to maximize heat transfer and minimize the added electricity consumption from the fans.

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