By customizing thermal comfort to individual needs, we can provide a more sustainable indoor environment, by lowering energy consumption and creating healthier spaces. The MIMiC system is a compact, low-cost, and safe thermal conditioning unit that provides personalized comfort is modular and easily movable.
Core technology: solid-state thermoelectric heat pump with integrated thermal storage. Unique benefits include: projected 20% energy reduction, it doesn't require outside venting or plumbing, it has no moving parts, it's refrigerant free, has increased reliability, it can be integrated with existing HVAC equipment, it has a compact design and doesn't generate noise. (Matalucci et al., IJAC, 2017)
Technical Significance, Innovation and Impact
Individual thermal comfort has often been considered less important than overall efficiencies in modern heating and cooling technologies, and often creates uncomfortable and unhealthy conditions for many individual inhabitants in commercial buildings and offices, since the settings are geared to satisfy large-group averages. Alternatively, we propose to distribute the small MIMiC units throughout spaces so that individuals can have control over their own indoor microclimates that can provide personalized comfort and healthier environments.
In response, the goal of this research area is to characterize an experimental framework that integrates responsive thermal systems with occupants’ direct and indirect experience, which includes stress response and biometric data. A computational model was used up to inform and analyze thermal perception of subjects, and later tested in a responsive physical installation. While results show that thermal comfort assessment is affected by individual differences including cognitive functions and biometrics, further computational efforts are needed to validate biometric indicators. Finally, the implications of personalized built environments are discussed with respect to future technology developments and possibilities of design driven by biometric data.
The Modular Indoor Micro-Climate (MIMiC) system provides personalized heating and cooling for a more sustainable and healthier indoor environment. In modern buildings, between 35-50% of energy is consumed by systems for heating, cooling and ventilation.
How can we offer a choice to users and reduce energy consumption?
Image: Powering Integrated Comfort