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Home Fluid System Challenge

How can you use fluid systems components to create a product for homeowners that will dramatically outperform existing technologies? Read Overview...
Overview

Design fluid systems for the future that last for the future.

The last few decades have seen amazing advances in materials and technologies. However, many homeowners are still frustrated with their furnace, plumbing, kitchen appliances and other fluid system products. High quality, stainless steel fluid system components are commonly used in an industrial setting...but what could be possible if we brought these components to the consumer market?

Consumer fluid systems of tomorrow could:

  • Use less water, less fuel, less electricity.
  • Perform better, be smaller, and quieter.
  • Last longer and avoid the unnecessary time, money, and stress of repairing a poorly performing product.
  • Be designed so that outdated components or software can be easily replaced, updated, refurbished, or recycled. 

The catch? Most consumers will only go to the trouble of replacing old technology with new technology if the new product is in some way dramatically better than the old…if it will save them enough money in one to five years to pay for the upfront costs…and if they can trust that they will not be replacing it over again in a few years. 

What are fluid systems? Fluid systems heat, cool, pressurize, purify, produce energy, or in some other way manage a liquid or gas using fluidic components such as (but not limited to) valves, tubing, filters, regulators, and fittings.

 

What are we looking for?

We need your help in identifying products in the home that could be improved or created using a simple assembly of fluid system components. Read the complete Challenge Guidelines...

 

This challenge is of interest to an international manufacturer and distributor of industrial-grade, stainless steel fluid system components.

Guidelines
Timeline
Forum 6
Community 180
Fluid Systems

What is a fluid systems product?

A product that heats, cool pressurizes, purifies, produces energy, or in some other way manages a liquid or gas using fluidic components such as (but not limited to) valves, fittings, hoses, regulators, and pressure measurement gauges.

What fluid system components should I incorporate into my product?

Your assembly design must contain primarily high-quality, stainless steel fluidic components in a size of 2” or less. We recommend you choose primarily from stainless steel components manufactured by TylokSwagelok, Hy-Lok or Ham-Let. Components from these websites must comprise a significant amount of the total value of your design and be integral to the design. These websites will provide pricing with a simple registration. 

  • Tube Fittings are components that connect to tubing.
  • Valves regulate, direct or control the flow of a liquid or gas by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways.
  • Check and Relief Valves prevent the flow of a liquid or gas in one direction or relieve the pressure.
  • Regulators provide reliable pressure control.
  • Quick Connects are an easy way to connect and disconnect fluid lines.
  • Measurement devices such as gauges, flow sensors, and thermometers
  • Tubing can be made in a wide range of sizes, forms, and alloys and other materials such as stainless steel, nylon, and rubber.
  • Filters allow you to filter your liquids and gasses, preventing pump contamination and damage.
  • Hoses are used to accommodate movement or vibration in a fluid system.

Your assembly design should contain standard products wherever possible. It should not contain newly invented components.

What fluid system products are currently being used in the home?

Fluid system products used in the home include heating systems, cooling systems, plumbing, and appliances. Please see below for a detailed list with brief descriptions.

Major home appliances

Dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, and even coffee makers make use of fluidic components to manage liquid or gas in the home.

Furnaces

According to All Systems Mechanical, "A furnace uses a fuel to generate its own source of heat and then circulates this heat throughout your house.  There are many types of furnaces, including gas furnaces, oil furnaces and electric furnaces, all of which have their pros and cons but essentially accomplish the same thing – they utilize a fuel to burn as a means of heating the air inside of your home. Furnaces heat air in the home and then disperse it through air ducts."

Heat pumps

According to All Systems Mechanical, "A heat pump is a machine that transfers heat from an area of cool air (called a “heat sink”) to an area that is warmer.  The most obvious application for this is to remove heat from the air outside of your house and transfer it into your home as a means of heating."

Ceiling panel cooling systems

A form of radiant cooling via ceiling panels that operates using a combination of radiation and convection. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, this system is very common in Europe, but has not yet caught on in the United States.

Heat recovery ventilation (HRV)

HRVs aim to ventilate a home with fresh air while minimizing heat loss and moisture change, by transferring the heat and moisture levels of the air in your home to the new, fresher air as they pass. They are advertised for homes in cooler climates with an emphasis on efficiency.

Energy-recovery ventilation system (ERV)

ERVs work similarly to HRVs, but they are designed for warmer climates. They are designed to transfer heat and moisture as well, but to keep your home cool and dry.

Plumbing

Faucets (e.g. in sinks, bathtubs, and showers), showerheads, toilets,  septic tanks, and other plumbing applications make use of fluidic components to pressurize, purify, or otherwise manage water in the home.

Drain-waste-vent system (DWV)

DWV systems deal with wastewater. According to FineHomebuilding, "They are the exit for the water provided through the supply lines, they carry waste from the toilet, and they connect to outside air for venting sewer gas and relieving pressure."

Heat pump (hybrid) water heater

According to Consumer Reports, "These capture heat from the air and transfer it to the water. They use about 60 percent less energy than standard electric water heaters."

Point-of-use water heaters

These heat only one specific element in the home (e.g. a specific faucet, such as the kitchen or bathroom faucet).

Condensing water heaters

According to Consumer Reports, "These models have a tank like a conventional water heater, but capture exhaust gases that would normally go out the flue, which wastes energy. These gases are blown through a coil in the base of the unit, where incoming cold water can absorb most of the heat."

Solar water heaters

According to Consumer Reports, "A roof-mounted cell absorbs the sun's heat and transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a closed-loop system that runs to the water tank."

Central air conditioners and heat pumps

According to SmarterHouse, "Central air conditioners and heat pumps are designed to cool the entire house. In each system, a large compressor unit located outside drives the process; an indoor coil filled with refrigerant cools air that is then distributed throughout the house via ducts. Heat pumps are like central air conditioners, except that the cycle can be reversed and used for heating during the winter months."

Room air conditioners

According to SmarterHouse, "Room air conditioners are available for mounting in windows or through walls, but in each case they work the same way, with the compressor located outside. Room air conditioners are sized to cool just one room, so a number of them may be required for a whole house. Individual units cost less to buy than central systems."

Evaporative coolers

According to SmarterHouse, "Evaporative coolers, sometimes called swamp coolers, are less common than vapor compression (refrigerant) air conditioners, but they are a practical alternative in very dry areas, such as the Southwest. They work by pulling fresh outside air through moist pads where the air is cooled by evaporation. The cooler air is then circulated through a house."

Ductless mini-split air conditioners

According to SmarterHouse, "Mini-split systems, very popular in other countries, can be an attractive retrofit option for room additions and for houses without ductwork, such as those using hydronic heat (see the heating section). Like conventional central air conditioners, mini-splits use an outside compressor/condenser and indoor air handling units. The difference is that each room or zone to be cooled has its own air handler. Each indoor unit is connected to the outdoor unit via a conduit carrying the power and refrigerant lines. Indoor units are typically mounted on the wall or ceiling."