Max Tech and Beyond

To promote the rapid development of ultra-energy-efficient appliances and support education of the next generation of U.S. clean energy engineers, the EES group, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program, has been hosting since 2011 the Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition for engineering design teams at U.S. Universities. The Max Tech and Beyond Design Competition challenges collegiate teams nationwide to design and test appliance innovations with the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption while providing a level of service comparable to or better than current best-on-market products. All selected teams consist of a lead faculty advisor in a suitable field of study (such as engineering or physics) and at least two students.

In the first year of the competition, nine teams from diverse universities competed. On August 23, 2012 the U.S. Energy Department announced that a University of Maryland team had won the Department's first Max Tech and Beyond Appliance Design Competition. The University of Maryland team chose to simplify the design of a standard wall-mounted air conditioner by separating the systems that remove humidity and provide cooling. After the students tested a fully functional prototype, they found that the design reduced energy use by 30% compared with typical wall-mounted air conditioners already on the market. As air conditioning is the largest consumer of electricity in most homes nationwide, this innovative design has the potential to substantially decrease residential energy use and save consumers money.

The 2012 runner-up team was from Marquette University and had developed a design for a hybrid gas dryer and water heater. The other teams that competed in the 2012 contest were from Cal State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, Cornell University, Ohio State University, Santa Clara University, and Texas A&M University.

For the academic 2012/2013 year, eight teams have elected to compete in the Max Tech and Beyond competition. The teams are from the University of Maryland, Tufts University, Ohio State University, Santa Clara University, University of Nevada, State University of New York at Stonybrook, and the University of California at Berkeley.