Reduced Cost Heat Pump Space- and Water-Heating in Cold Climates

Critical technological challenges impact the cost and performance of decarbonized space- and water- heating solutions. This project is a multi-institution effort to develop, model, fabricate, and test different strategies for combi heat pumps (HP) with phase change material thermal energy storage (PCM TES) for multifamily residential buildings in cold climates. Our research group will lead modeling and simulation efforts to optimize component design and system operation. In addition to this computational investigation, interested students will have opportunities to engage with project collaborators that are conducting market research, laboratory experiments, and field evaluations to advance this technology. 

Name of research group, project, or lab
Helmns Research Group (accepting suggestions for a better group name, will also make a lab website - stay tuned)
Why join this research group or lab?

Students interested in this project would be the first cohort in this research group, and have the opportunity to shape the lab culture for their peers to come. The goal of this project, and the group collectively, is to apply engineering principles and humanitarian values to develop decarbonized building and district energy systems. Recognizing that the climate crisis disproportionately impacts people with lesser socioeconomic capital, our research portfolio will center energy equity and environmental justice. This project specifically aims to advance heat pump space- and water-heating for multifamily communities in cold climates burdened by high energy costs.

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Mechanical Engineering
Numerical Modeling
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

This project is best suited for students who have completed E79 (Introduction to Engineering Systems) and E82 (Chemical and Thermal Processes). Students should be familiar with modeling, analysis, synthesis, and design, with an interest in learning new computational tools and deepening their engineering knowledge. This research will involve modeling mass and energy transfers in mechanical components and systems and analyzing thermodynamic performance alongside other critical techno-economic metrics. Regarding physical qualifications, Prof. Helmns is committed to creating research opportunities that support student needs and invites feedback on how to make the experience accessible.

Time commitment
Summer - Full Time
Summer - Part Time
Paid Research
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Students can expect to learn more about space conditioning and water heating technology, particularly heat pumps and thermal energy storage. The primary research method will be physics-based computational modeling, with exposure to experimental characterization and field testing of integrated energy systems through collaboration with project partners.

Contact Information:
Dre Helmns
Principal Investigator
Name of project director or principal investigator
Dre Helmns
Email address of project director or principal investigator
2 sp. | 8 appl.
Hours per week
Summer - Full Time (+1)
Summer - Full TimeSummer - Part Time
Project categories
Sustainability (+4)
EngineeringArchitectureMechanical EngineeringNumerical ModelingSustainability