Energy HAWC (OSU)

From left to right: Sarah Weals, Marcy Kaercher, Yufan Ling, Chris Schleich, Brendan O’Shaughnessy, James Rowland (lead student), Lee Trask, Fandi Peng, Scott Heckler, Mark Walter (lead PI), and Matthew O’Kelly (co-support)
Courtesy of Team Energy HAWC (OSU)
Team energyHAWC with their prototype at the 2013 Engineering Education Innovation Center Capstone Showcase at The Ohio State University. The team took 1st place in the Multidisciplinary Engineering category from among 16 other industry sponsored design projects. (Front Row) Scott Heckler, Sarah Weals, Lee Trask, Fandi Peng; (Back Left) Matthew O'Kelly, Marcy Kaercher, Dr. Mark Walter; (Back Right) Brendan O'Shaughnessy, James Rowland, Schris Schleich. (Not Pictured) Yufan Ling.
Courtesy of Team Energy HAWC (OSU)
Courtesy of Team Energy HAWC (OSU)
Sensible Latent Heat and Air Conditioning system configuration
Courtesy of Team Energy HAWC (OSU)
HAWC 2.0 test loop
Courtesy of Team Energy HAWC (OSU)

HAWC (Hybrid Air/Water Conditioner) : 2012-2013

Runner Up Award
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
and Fischer College of Business
Columbus, Ohio 43210
Energy End-Use Category: 
A. Residential Water Heating, Ventilation, Cooling, Dehumidification
B. Residential Water Heating, Ventilation, Heating

Industry Partner: Priority Designs, Columbus, Ohio

Contribution: Matthew O'Kelly, an engineer at Priority Designs and former HAWC 1.0 team member will continue to assist with HAWC 2.0. As a full-time engineer at Priority Designs, he will bring design development, optimization, rapid prototyping, market research, manufacturing, assembly consideration, documentation, and graphic design expertise from a company with a large, nationwide portfolio of projects.

Find Out More

To see the most up-to-date information on the project, you can visit the team's website at

Project Overview: 


Over the past 30 years, the development of higher efficiency heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) and water heating systems has mostly been driven by constantly increasing energy costs and environmental concerns associated with resource consumption and carbon dioxide production. However, the increased initial purchase and installation cost of these systems greatly inhibits widespread adoption; for example, a geothermal heating and cooling system can offer nearly a 30% decrease in energy usage, but very few homeowners are able to justify the initial cost that is two to four times that of a conventional system. There is a considerable hole in the high efficiency market for affordable HVAC systems that are easy to install and maintain.

Prototype/Technology Description

The Hybrid Air/Water Conditioner (HAWC) prototype combines a heat pump with dessicant dehumidification while recapturing waste heat; combining these systems enables the development of hybrid cooling and ventilation systems with improved functionality and reduced energy consumption. The efficiency and performance gains are achieved through separate removal from the incoming ambient air of sensible and latent heat. By removing moisture with the desiccant wheel, the compressor no longer needs to cool below the dew point, resulting in less electrical energy used by the compressor. Regeneration of the desiccant wheel can be achieved with waste heat from the vapor compression cycle; the same waste heat produces domestic hot water when desiccant dehumidification is not needed. The first iteration of the HAWC prototype produced a combined increase in coefficient of performance (COP) of roughly 18% compared to separate systems. The optimization of the next prototype is expected to yield an overall 30% increase in COP. Also planned for the next prototype is a reversing valve technology that would enable HAWC 2.0 to provide space heating.

Potential Energy and/or Cost Savings

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2010 the total consumption of electricity in the United States was about 3,884 billion kWh. Out of that total electricity use, nearly 9% was for water heating and 22% was for air conditioning. With the introduction of air conditioning in developing countries such as China, worldwide electricity usage for cooling systems is increasing exponentially, presenting a major opportunity for energy and monetary savings in the worldwide market. According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers, separate sensible and latent heat cooling with hybrid heat pump-desiccant systems may save 3.25-6.5 billion kWh per year. This constitutes a national energy savings of about $1.69 billion.

Future Commercialization

The HAWC system is focused toward the super-insulated, low energy consumption housing market. The current total cost of the system is $4,200, which is slightly more than the total cost of the separate appliances; however, this price is much less than other 'magic box' offerings, such as the Daikin Altherma which is priced in the $12,000 to $16,000 range. The HAWC fills an obvious hole in the current market and may be the catalyst for increased development of less expensive hybrid air conditioning systems.

Additional Information

The Top Clean Energy Award was received by the HAWC team at the 2013 Ohio State University Business Plan Competition this year!

If you would like to know more about the building, testing, and results, then read their end-of-year report attached below.

"The energyHAWC prototype created for MaxTech eventually led to a provisional and utility patent filing, the creation of a business plan, and State of Ohio Technology Validation and Startup Fund support for additional testing and prototypes."—Mattew O'Kelly

Content provided by team Energy HAWC (OSU)
Neither the United States, the Department of Energy, or Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, nor any of their contractors, subcontractors, or their employees make any warranty, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness for any purpose of any technical resources or data attached or otherwise presented here.