The innovation team at GE Appliances, a Haier company, and the University of Louisville recently partnered on a ‘cool’ refrigerator project.
The Kentucky-based home appliances manufacturer enlisted UofL to help develop controls systems for a new compressor that will make its refrigerators more energy efficient. The controls system would allow the compressor to take measurements and optimize automatically.
“They’ve (UofL) been instrumental into the controls side of that project,” said Senior Compressor Engineer, Greg Hahn. “It helps us get an edge on intellectual property, so we’ve got more access to deeper knowledge of controls and cutting-edge techniques.”
UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering associate professor, Dr. Micheal McIntyre, and his graduate student, Joe Latham, have worked with GE Appliances on the project since its inception in 2012.
“It’ll help their refrigerator products to use less energy,” McIntyre said. That forward-thinking will help the company “stay in the marketplace when energy standards become more challenging and difficult to meet.”
This new technology is expected to help the refrigerators use 10 to 15 percent less energy, saving customers money.
This isn’t the first time GE Appliances and UofL have worked together. The former hosts UofL students for hands-on learning co-ops, and the latter has helped GE Appliances solve problems and create new products.
One notable example is FirstBuild, a maker space and microfactory on UofL’s Belknap campus, where GE Appliances has used open innovation to create new products such as the Opal Nugget Ice Maker and Paragon Induction Cooktop.
“They (UofL) have quite a few ideas to help us out as a company,” said Power Electronics Engineer, Srujan Kusumba. “Not just that, but the way of thinking helps us to explore more ideas and also learn new things.”
McIntyre said UofL also learns new things when it partners with industry — and it gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom on real-world problems.
“The value of this is really incalculable,” Latham said. “It’s been great getting to bridge between the academic and industrial world.”