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OU Engineering Leads $1.8M Project for Military Efficiency


OU Engineering Leads $1.8M Project for Military Efficiency

March 7, 2024

NORMAN, OKLA. – Li Song, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Oklahoma, has received a $1.18 million grant from the Department of Defense to design a system for simultaneous heating and cooling demands at military installations, with the goal of enhancing efficiency and reliability.

The grant, which takes place over three years, is part of the DOD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program’s selection of 50 groundbreaking initiatives for fiscal year 2023. Titled “Performance demonstration of an integrated water-source heat pump water heater system to meet simultaneous heating and cooling demands at military installations,” its mission is carbon reduction in military installations.

The Biden Administration has issued an Executive Order to all federal agencies establishing timelines to transition to carbon pollution-free electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  However, current technologies are not sufficiently advanced to facilitate this transition, according to Song. Her team is working to change that.

Li Song.

“Our research team’s technology provides an effective electrification approach for military installations that has simultaneous cooling and heating loads due to its attractive return on investment. We proposed integrated water-source heat pump water heater system (HPWH) that is designed to seamlessly address both heating and cooling demands while enhancing the reliability of existing systems,” Song said.

The project is located at Tinker Air Force Base and is conducted in collaboration with Song’s Building Energy Efficiency Laboratory at OU, the HVAC laboratory at the University of Miami and industrial partners Trade Mechanical Contractors Inc. and Honeywell.

With a focus on demonstrating an integrated water-source heat pump water heater system, the group will evaluate design and installation costs, validate real-world performance and facilitate technology transfer and commercialization. The integrated water-source HPWH system offers a highly efficient electrification approach for military installations, effectively doubling the efficiency of traditional applications, Song says. With potential annual savings of $69,000 and a 500-ton carbon reduction at Tinker Air Force Base, the project aligns with federal mandates for reduced natural gas consumption.

The three-year timeline involves collaborative design and installation at Tinker Air Force Base in the first year, optimal operation sequence development in the second year and performance validation in the third year. Song emphasized the significance of the project in meeting federal mandates and expressed a commitment to revolutionizing military installations through innovative electrification.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit

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