Research Interests


Current Research Interests

W. Travis Horton

Dr. Horton’s research interests lie principally in the areas of advanced thermal energy conversion systems, energy utilization in buildings, and the interactions between a building and its environment. These interests more specifically include the development of advanced, highly integrated, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems; the role of renewable distributed power generation and combined heat and power (CHP) systems in residential and commercial buildings; and the integration of these technologies into high performance buildings. These research efforts involve the design of experimental facilities to conduct performance testing, and the development of detailed system or component models for analysis and optimization.

Advanced Thermal Energy Conversion Systems:

This research area focuses on the evaluation and development of improved components and system technologies used for power producing, heat pumping, air conditioning, and refrigeration applications.  Studies include:

  1. Transcritical CO2-cycle technology for air conditioning, heat pumping, and refrigeration applications.

  2. Gas-cycles, including the Brayton, Stirling, and Ericsson cycles.

  3. Modeling and testing of air-to-air heat pumping and air conditioning equipment.

  4. Secondary loop refrigeration systems for commercial applications that use ammonia or hydrocarbons as the primary refrigerant and a single or two-phase working fluid in the secondary loop.

  5. Modeling, analysis, and performance testing of positive displacement refrigerant compressors, including, reciprocating, rotary, and scroll mechanisms.

  6. Modeling, analysis, and design of fin-tube heat exchangers.

  7. Modeling, analysis, and design of ground source heat pumps and ground heat exchangers

Energy Utilization in Buildings:

Experience shows that simply developing better equipment does not guarantee better performance in an application. This research area focuses on understanding and appropriately factoring in the interactions between a building, its equipment, occupants, and its environment to truly achieving high performance, sustainable buildings. Studies include:

  1. Forward and inverse building energy modeling techniques.

  2. Integration of combined heat and power systems in residential and light commercial facilities.

  3. Fault detection and diagnosis techniques for building energy systems.

  4. Low temperature lift heat pumping applications

  5. Optimizing the use of ground source heat pumps.

  6. Implementing renewable energy technologies into new and existing buildings.

  7. Building energy auditing methods

  8. Short-term measurement and verification techniques for building energy improvement projects