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Personal Cooling

SRI is developing a system to manage a person's heating and cooling individually, saving energy by not overheating or overcooling areas within a building where the person is not present.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) account for 13 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. and about 40 percent of the energy used in a typical U.S. residence, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. Even though more energy-efficient HVAC technologies are being adopted in both the commercial and residential sectors, these technologies focus on efficiently heating or cooling large areas and how the building’s net occupancy changes during a day, a week and across seasons.

Building operators have to tightly manage temperature for an average occupancy comfort level; but the occupants reside in only a small fraction of the building’s interior. There is a critical need for technologies that create localization of thermal management to relax the temperature settings in buildings, reduce the load on HVAC systems and enhance occupant comfort. This is achieved by tailoring the thermal environment around the individual, thus saving energy by not overheating or overcooling areas within the building where the occupants do not reside.

Under funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA) program, SRI, with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford University, is developing footwear designed to keep the wearer comfortable by augmenting the human body's natural thermal regulation system. The current design for SRI’s system uses a combination of low-cost pumps, fans and thermally conductive materials to manage heat transfer from the soles of the feet.  Future systems may incorporate advanced fluid flow techniques or new materials for greater efficiency and lower cost. 

Acknowledgment: The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, under Award Number DE-AR0000532.

Disclaimer: The information, data, or work presented herein was funded in part by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.