The Institute of Refrigeration honoured some of the industry's most talented individuals at last night's 119th Annual Dinner at the Grange St Paul's hotel in London.
Joe Birch of SJJ System Services received the Service Engineers Section Lifetime Achievement Award, which is supported by the ACR Journal. Described by his employer as an amazing engineer and person, Joe has spent more than 30 years in the environmental chamber climatic control business.
The award recognised a commitment to developing knowledge of all aspects of his work, from refrigeration to electrical controls. He has also shown his commitment to the future of the industry by passing on his knowledge to the next generation and supporting the company’s first apprentice for the last four years.
The IOR’s most prestigious award, the J&E Hall International Gold Medal, which recognises the most noteworthy practical contribution globally to the field of refrigeration, air conditioning or heat pumps, was awarded to Dr Mark McLinden from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) in the USA.
The judging panel decided that this year’s medal should be awarded to an individual who had made one of the most significant contributions to addressing the biggest challenge the industry faces: identifying new, environmentally friendly refrigerants.
Dr McLinden was the principal investigator for the five-year project funded by the US Department of Energy. His team applied its combined expertise in chemistry, thermodynamics and refrigeration to the research which has greatly helped the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration and chemical industries to comply with international regulations.
"I am very honoured and somewhat surprised to receive this award," said Dr McLinden, who is based at NIST in Boulder, Colorado.
"When you look at the list of past recipients of the J & E Hall Gold Medal you see folks who are absolute leaders in the refrigeration field – so it's an honour to join that group. I know a few of the past recipients personally. I'm surprised perhaps because the award usually seems to go to people who invent a new technology or perhaps implement a technology in some new way.
“My work is much more fundamental thermodynamics, so it's a little bit out of the mainstream of refrigeration technology. It's very nice to see the fundamental thermodynamics that I work in being recognised."
He thanked other team members who were involved at various stages of the project: "I certainly could not have done it without the team. I have been very fortunate to have been working with some very good people on this project and many other projects over the years.
"Piotr Domanski, leader of the HVAC&R Equipment Performance Group at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a mechanical engineer who tackled the cycle modelling and cycle analysis part of the work. While Steve Brown, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, was also involved in the cycle analysis part of the project. Riccardo Brignoli worked with Piotr and Steve on the cycle analysis part of the project.
"Andrei Kazakov, in Boulder, has a material science background and undertook the simulation and the prediction of the properties that allowed us to do the project in the first place. Without his contributions the project would be a shell of what it became. Dr Michael Frenkel, in Boulder, was a big supporter of the project and was very helpful in getting us started."
Using machine and computer-led artificial intelligence, Dr McLinden’s team identified the fundamental thermodynamic characteristics of the ideal refrigerant.
They then carried out a systematic and exhaustive screening of a comprehensive database of 60 million molecules to identify those with the right characteristics. Eventually a set of 27 best candidates was identified.
No fluid was found to be ideal in all respects and the study recommended refrigerant blends as a way to find a compromise between competing environmental, safety and performance requirements. Work to identify the best blends is continuing.
Dr McLinden has been actively engaged in researching new refrigerants for virtually his entire career. He was one of the original developers – with Graham Morrison – of the NIST REFPROP database which has become the standard for refrigerant properties in the industry and which is widely used in the design of refrigeration equipment.
He was heavily involved in the phase out of the ozone-depleting CFC and HCFC refrigerants in the 1990s and the setting of standards for the thermodynamic properties of the then-new HFCs.
He is author or co-author of more than 120 peer-reviewed publications and has received several awards related to his research. He serves on several refrigerant-related committees for ASHRAE.
The medal, to be kept for one year, together with an engraved silver replica, was presented by Andrew Bowden, managing director of J&E Hall International, along with a prize of £5,000.
The winner of the Ted Perry Award for Student Research was Eman Hussein of the University of Birmingham. Eman’s work involved developing advanced metal organic framework materials with high water adsorption capacity. This included investigating both the theoretical assessment of these materials and the practical development of the absorption heat pump. The judges commented on the vision of Eman’s research which “shows in-depth knowledge of applications where solar energy and waste heat sources can be used to produce cooling.” The prize was supported by Hawco and the IOR Ted Perry Memorial Fund.
The Lightfoot Medal, for the best IOR talk or webinar presenter, went to Chris Druce for his paper and talk “The Impact of Refrigerant Charge on the Capacity and Efficiency of a System Containing Low GWP Refrigerants”. Chris received a prize donated by Lightfoot Defence.