Senior Design teams identify cost savings for campus
During the fall and spring semesters, MechSE students completed their Senior Capstone Design project—one that not only helped further their knowledge in the field, but also benefits the university.
Team members in both semesters worked with Emad Jassim, Director of Undergraduate Programs, to create cooling systems for the server racks in rooms 200 and 202 in the Advanced Computation Building. Their design, which they hope to implement, would save their campus client, Illinois Technology Services, $17,500 in cooling fees. Additionally, the team designed an Airside Economizer, which would oil down the cooling system and could save an additional $97,000 each year.
The Advanced Computation Building is the center for many of the university’s computing needs, housing many supercomputing machines. Because of this, the room often becomes overheated and must be cooled in order to function safely and effectively. However, the current cooling units, Lieberts, are reaching the end of their life cycle. While the group’s original plan was to replace the current Lieberts, they discovered it would cost nearly $24,000 to do so. Instead, they designed a duct that would bring cold air from room 200 into room 202 with an implementation cost of only $6,000.
Air handling units draw warm air from above, bringing it down the sides of the units of the building. In this case, after crossing a few filters, it is passed through chilled water and sent up to the area under the floor in room 200, and the cold air then passes through perforated tiles and cools the room’s tile floors.
The team began with three primary objectives at the start of their project: designing a plan to cool room 202 without Lieberts, finding a recommendation for optimizing air handling unit fan speed, and designing an airside economizer to increase system efficiency. After running multiple tests, they concluded that all three objectives could be met with their cooling system plan. Their duct design replaced Lieberts, optimized the AHU setting by 35 percent, and created an Airside Economizer to lower costs.
The team during the spring semester moved the project even further forward, focusing heavily on improving the design of the Airside Economizer. Their design solutions were centered on meeting university standards. The team estimated their improved design would reduce costs by an additional $138,000 per year.