Energy Systems

Current Projects

Undergraduate Design Projects

A few examples of recent projects:

  • Robotic cooler
  • Solar regenerative liquid desiccant dehumidification system
  • Personal cooler for hot and humid environments
  • Variable refrigerant flow refrigeration system with energy recovery

Solar assisted heat pump system with seasonal storage: Integration of water-source heat pumps with solar thermal collectors is being studied under several input conditions to determine the control strategies that optimize air conditioning of a building with highest coefficient of performance and the least use of auxiliary heating.

Ground source heat pump: Effective operation of ground source heat pumps is dependent on various parameters, selection of which requires a database of operation points under various conditions. A graduate student is working on generating the required data to create the database and develop a decision-making tool for building designers and building managers.

Energy use index study of UAB campus buildings: In a campus environment such a UAB, which is consisted of more than 150 buildings, it is very important to have an accurate measure of energy performance of each building and compare with the data from Building Performance Database that contains data at national level. This will provide info to building managers regarding the status of their building as compared to national average for the given type of building use.

Feasibility study of distributed generation system for UAB buildings: Through energy modeling of several types of buildings, a graduate student is investigating techno economic feasibility of locally generating electricity and other resources such as (cooling, heating and hot water) instead of obtaining them through network.

Internal combustion engine based tri generation of heating, cooling and power (CHCP): Tri generation is a topic that is becoming attractive to real-estate developers, especially for multi-family buildings. The overall fuel efficiency factor can reach a value above 90%.

Concentrated PV thermal management: In concentrated PV applications, power generation can be multiplied however, PV cells get hot very quickly, which results in a significant drop in their efficiency. Different methods for cooling PV cells are under investigation.


  • Pelton Wheel

    The Pelton Wheel is used to observe the principles of linear and angular momentum conservation.

    Venturi Meter

    The venturi meter is used to demonstrate Bernoulli's principle.

    Subsonic Wind Tunnel

    The subsonic wind tunnel is used to determine the drag force on airfoils and model vehicles.


    Discharge from an orifice is available for students to observe the vena contracta and calculate the discharge coefficient.

    Brookfield Visometer

    The Brookfield viscometer measures the viscosity of liquids and the dependence of viscosity on temperature.

    The Hele-Shaw apparatus is used to observe the streamlines in a potential (inviscid) flow field. While the Impinging jet apparatus is used to verify the principle of linear momentum conservation in water flow. And the Center of Pressure aparatus is used to demonstrate the buoyancy principle. Center of pressure apparatus Used to demonstrate the buoyancy principle.

  • Bench Top

    The bench top cooling tower experiment is used to demonstrate moist air processes and energy balance analysis on a cooling tower.

    Vapor Compression

    The Vapor-compression refrigeration system is used to perform experiments on a refrigeration system.

    Steam Generation

    The Steam generation unit is used for students to learn about steam processes and practice using steam property tables and to become familiar with the vapor-liquid phase relations of water.

    Steam Turbine

    The Steam turbine unit is used in conjunction with the steam generation unit, this system constitutes a small bench-top steam power plant.

    Thermoelectric Heat

    Thermoelectric power generation and a heat pump system are demonstrated in this experiment.

  • Axial And Radial

    The axial and radial heat conduction experiments provide students with the ability to determine the thermal conductivity of metallic samples of different composition and diameter, as well as verify 1-D transient heat conduction in a brass disc.

    Concentric Tube Heat

    The Concentric-tube heat exchanger experiment is used to determine and compare the effectiveness of a heat exchanger in parallel-flow and counter-flow configurations.

    The Radiation heat transfer experiment is used to demonstrate the principles of thermal radiation and effects of the emissivity of a surface and its distance from a radiation source on the rate of heat transfer. While the Boiling heat transfer unit is used to demonstrate the pool boiling regime and show the effect of the magnitude of the heat flux on boiling heat transfer.

Additional Resources

  • Two SCXI chassis backbones for connection of signals to the Data Acquisition (DAQ) card.
  • Three screw terminal boards for use in conjunction with the SCXI chassis
  • Two BNC type terminal boards for direct signal connection to the DAQ system
  • One 4-channel USB DAQ system.
  • An SC-2345 signal-conditioning connector block for connecting signals to the DAQ system
  • Stroboscope
  • A non-contact temperature measurement device
  • A number of pressure transducers in various pressure ranges
  • An electrical current transducer

Currently, two of the experiments are equipped with data acquisition systems, so students are able to use LabVIEW modules to collect data from the experiments. Those experiments are: (1) the lift coefficient determination on airfoils in the subsonic wind tunnel, and (2) the cooling tower experiment. In the former, pressure measurements at 15 points, and in the latter, temperature measurements using thermocouples at 7 points, are recorded electronically using the DAQ system. There are two desktop computers equipped with data acquisition cards, and a PCMCIA data acquisition card is available to be used in laptop computers as a mobile data acquisition system. The software programs that are frequently used by students to perform the calculations are EES and MATLAB.

National Competitions

Solar decathalon house.Solar Decathlon 2017: A team of UAB students led by me designed, constructed and tested a net-zero energy solar-powered house. The team shipped the house to the Solar Decathlon Competition in Denver in October 2017. In Denver, the house competed with 11 houses from other universities for energy production, architecture, water conservation, home life, and 6 more contests. Officials from the Department of Energy monitored the comfort parameters of the house closely for 15 days. UAB house ranked 5th overall, while ranking 3rd in two contests. In terms of energy generation, the house ranked #1. Learn more about the competition rankings.

Shell Ecomarathon 2013-2017: Shell ecomarathon is a competition among academic institutions to design, build and race their super-mileage small cars in several different categories. Dr. Taherian has mentored teams of UAB students in this competition since 2013. As of 2017, the team works under the umbrella of Blazer Motorsports.


For more information, please reach out to Hessam Taherian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..