Fall 2020: 3 Credit Hour ME 59700 Independent Project Opportunity


Combined Heating and Cooling for Agricultural Applications


The project is sponsored by Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) as part of the chill challenge ( to provide affordable, off-grid refrigeration. This research will examine the potential for using a combined heating and cooling vapor compression system to produce ice and to dry crops. Vapor compression refrigeration systems have a high initial cost, and a combined system, which uses the evaporator capacity to create ice and the condenser heat to dry crops, may provide a way to offset that cost. The research will evaluate food drying and storage practices, including their prices and seasonality. Potential applications of the technology will then focus on locations that produce food items that command high value and/or are available throughout the year, as these will provide more benefits than seasonal food items. A food value map will be created based on literature and market review to help in selecting best dehydrator type for a given region and season. The project aims in building a system that generates 100-150 kg of ice per day, using a vapor compression cycle with R290 as the refrigerant and solar PV as an energy source. A simulation model will be built to evaluate the system performance and help the components selection for future prototype design. The prototype will be built and evaluated in the laboratory environment.

Main tasks to be performed:

Work as a member of the team with graduate students and professors to

  • Learn and understand the working principle of vapor compression cycle
  • Assistance in generating the food valve map
  • Using the simulation model to perform parametric studies
  • Components selection and prototype system design using 3D model software
  • Help building and carry out performance testing on the system

* The tasks will be flexible based on the interests of the students and workload.

Contact info:

Principal Investigator:

Graduate Students:

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