Project Examples

Winter Heat Loss Analysis and Redesign for the MVFB

Course: 10.304 Heat Transfer
Semester: Spring 2006
Instructor: Al Donatelli
Partner:Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB)

The Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) is a community-supported organization that provides nutritious food and personal care items to emergency feeding programs serving low-income, homeless and hungry individuals. This non-profit organization resides in a very old building in Lowell, MA that is walking distance from campus. Due to its age, during the wintertime, the building is subject to significant heat losses, while in the summertime the heat increases more than normal. At the request of MVFB Executive Director Amy Pessia and Program Director Corinne St. Hilaire, Professor Al Donatelli, instructor of the Heat Transfer course, divided his class in several groups and assigned them a project to analyze the existing heat loss problems as well as contribute redesign suggestions to reduce the energy consumption. MVFB conducted three facility tours for UML: An initial site visit conducted by the SLICE Coordinator, was complemented by a faculty visit to explore heat transfer issues as well as class visits to obtain measurements needed for calculations. Amy provided MVFB utility bills and energy consumption records for a full year. Corrine attended the student presentations. Both MVFB directors were available to respond to questions via phone and e-mail during the semester S-L project. After having finished the study of this construction, students were required to give a professional presentation summarizing important facts of their design projects. A formal report elaborating the detail of this project was also submitted.

The MVFB is an organization that relies on donations, volunteerism, and grants to maintain its operation. Hence, the students from the Department of Chemical Engineering were not only being challenged to make a compelling proposal, but also to make possible an affordable remodeling. The guideline of the project included:

  • Heat transfer analysis. Students performed a heat transfer analysis on the second floor of the warehouse where the heat problems exist.
  • Alterations proposal. After the analysis, each group was required to propose an alterations plan that focused on the reduction of energy consumption.
  • Heat transfer improvement determination. Then, another heat transfer analysis with the alterations proposal was performed to this location to determine whether the heat transfer improved.
  • Cost estimation. Finally, they needed to estimate the cost of the alterations plan and determine the payback period of the energy consumption reduction proposed.