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Leveraging Campus Resources For Hvac Laboratory Development

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.433.1 - 5.433.5

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William J. Hutzel

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Leveraging Campus Resources for HVAC Laboratory Development

William J. Hutzel Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN


The purpose of this paper is to explore innovative opportunities for stretching limited university resources for laboratory development. The context of this discussion is an ongoing renovation project in the Applied Energy Laboratory, which is part of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department at Purdue University. A relatively small initial capital investment by the University has been leveraged to provide more than $150,000 worth of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment. In the near future, continuing education short courses are expected to help this facility become nearly self-sufficient.

Laboratory development is never complete

Facilities engineering has become an important career option for many Technology students. The continuing boom in industrial and commercial construction has helped create a strong demand for technicians who operate and maintain mechanical systems in modern commercial buildings. In fact, a recent report published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers shows that facilities engineering will be one of the fastest growing technical careers over the next ten years.1

Maintaining a modern heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) laboratory for teaching tomorrow’s facility engineers is an ongoing challenge. Technology constantly changes, necessitating regular upgrades to laboratory equipment. Although there have been modest improvements to pumps, fans, and other HVAC components over the past 20 years, there has been a tremendous revolution in how these components are operated and controlled.

Like all areas of technology, microprocessors have dramatically improved HVAC system performance. Building automation systems, which feature a user-friendly personal computer interface, monitor and control all mechanical equipment. Sophisticated computer algorithms optimize energy efficiency by modulating heating and cooling depending upon the time of day or level of human occupancy. Fire suppression, alarms, and lights are frequently an integral part of a comprehensive building automation package.

The Applied Energy Laboratory, which is part of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department at Purdue University, has struggled to remain up-to-date. This twenty-year-old instructional facility includes a forced air system, a hydronic system, and solar collectors. All components are linked to an environmental chamber so their performance can be precisely evaluated. By 1995 this facility was showing its age. The basic mechanical equipment was fully operational, but the 1970’s vintage control systems were unable to achieve precise control of temperature or humidity.

Hutzel, W. J. (2000, June), Leveraging Campus Resources For Hvac Laboratory Development Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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