Department of Energy Announces Winning Student Team of Max Tech, the University-Based Appliance Design Competition

August 23rd 2012

The Department of Energy has released the winning student team from the Max Tech Appliance Design Contest. The Max Tech competition, held in May of this year, was coordinated by a team in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Here is DOE's announcement:

As part of the Obama Administration's commitment to supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers, the Energy Department today announced that a University of Maryland team has won the Department's first

Max Tech and Beyond Appliance Design Competition. This student challenge aims to inspire the nation's brightest young minds to pursue energy efficiency improvements in home and commercial appliances and other equipment, helping to develop innovative ultra-efficient products. The competition also supports the Energy Department's broader efforts to train and educate a new generation of engineers and entrepreneurs who will help solve our national energy challenges and bring cutting-edge energy technologies to the global market.

Members of the University of Maryland team

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 percent compared with typical wall-mounted air conditioners already on the market. Since the largest consumer of electricity in most homes nationwide is the air conditioning system, this innovative design has the potential to substantially decrease residential energy use and save consumers money.

The Maryland team, led by Professor Yunho Hwang, competed alongside eight other faculty-led student design teams from universities across the United States. The teams were competitively selected and funded by the Energy Department to design, build, and test their prototypes during the 2011-2012 academic year. The runner-up team from Marquette University developed a prototype of a natural-gas-fired combination water heater and clothes dryer that can use the waste heat from the clothes dryer to heat water for the next washing load. The team demonstrated that with this approach, a 10 percent effective dryer efficiency improvement compared to the best-on-market.

Members of the Marquette University team

The nine competing student teams received up to $20,000 to design and test commercially-viable innovative appliances built to save families and businesses money. A panel of Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory experts judged each team's prototype based on its demonstrated ability to reduce energy use by 10 percent or more compared to best-on-market products, or the prototype's ability to reduce production costs compared with typical high efficiency products already on the market by 20 percent or more.

The Max Tech and Beyond Appliance Design Competition is coordinated by the Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and funded by the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

A request for proposals process is underway for the 2013 Max Tech and Beyond competition, which is again expected to be coordinated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.