Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elias Stefanakos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Babu Joseph, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tapas Das, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Herbert A. Ingley, Ph.D.


Gas Engine-driven Heat Pump, Thermal Storage, HVAC, Demand Side Management


Buildings contribute a significant part to the electricity demand profile and peak demand for the electrical utilities. The addition of renewable energy generation adds additional variability and uncertainty to the power system. Demand side management in the buildings can help improve the demand profile for the utilities by shifting some of the demand from peak to off-peak times.

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contribute around 45% to the overall demand of a building. This research studies two strategies for reducing the peak as well as shifting some demand from peak to off-peak periods in commercial buildings:

1. Use of gas heat pumps in place of electric heat pumps, and

2. Shifting demand for air conditioning from peak to off-peak by thermal energy storage in chilled water and ice.

The first part of this study evaluates the field performance of gas engine-driven heat pumps (GEHP) tested in a commercial building in Florida. Four GEHP units of 8 Tons of Refrigeration (TR) capacity each providing air-conditioning to seven thermal zones in a commercial building, were instrumented for measuring their performance. The operation of these GEHPs was recorded for ten months, analyzed and compared with prior results reported in the literature. The instantaneous COPunit of these systems varied from 0.1 to 1.4 during typical summer week operation. The COP was low because the gas engines for the heat pumps were being used for loads that were much lower than design capacity which resulted in much lower efficiencies than expected.

The performance of equivalent electric heat pump was simulated from a building energy model developed to mimic the measured building loads. An economic comparison of GEHPs and conventional electrical heat pumps was done based on the measured and simulated results. The average performance of the GEHP units was estimated to lie between those of EER-9.2 and EER-11.8 systems. The performance of GEHP systems suffers due to lower efficiency at part load operation. The study highlighted the need for optimum system sizing for GEHP/HVAC systems to meet the building load to obtain better performance in buildings.

The second part of this study focusses on using chilled water or ice as thermal energy storage for shifting the air conditioning load from peak to off-peak in a commercial building. Thermal energy storage can play a very important role in providing demand-side management for diversifying the utility demand from buildings. Model of a large commercial office building is developed with thermal storage for cooling for peak power shifting. Three variations of the model were developed and analyzed for their performance with 1) ice storage, 2) chilled water storage with mixed storage tank and 3) chilled water storage with stratified tank, using EnergyPlus 8.5 software developed by the US Department of Energy. Operation strategy with tactical control to incorporate peak power schedule was developed using energy management system (EMS). The modeled HVAC system was optimized for minimum cost with the optimal storage capacity and chiller size using JEPlus.

Based on the simulation, an optimal storage capacity of 40-45 GJ was estimated for the large office building model along with 40% smaller chiller capacity resulting in higher chiller part-load performance. Additionally, the auxiliary system like pump and condenser were also optimized to smaller capacities and thus resulting in less power demand during operation. The overall annual saving potential was found in the range of 7-10% for cooling electricity use resulting in 10-17% reduction in costs to the consumer. A possible annual peak shifting of 25-78% was found from the simulation results after comparing with the reference models. Adopting TES in commercial buildings and achieving 25% peak shifting could result in a reduction in peak summer demand of 1398 MW in Tampa.