UM Engineering Professor Invention Receives MDA Grant

By Shea Stewart

University of Mississippi Communications

UM chemical engineering professor Paul Scovazzo (third from left) receives a $ 5,000 development grant from the Mississippi Development Authority in a “Pitch in the V-Quad” competition in August. Scovazzo and his brother Anthony Scovazzo hold a patent for a humidity control system in air conditioners that was chosen by the authority’s Mississippi V-Quad Incubator Network grant program. Scovazzo members are (left to right) Bill Ashley, director of business research and workforce development at MDA; Sumesh Arora, Director of the Energy and Natural Resources Division of MDA; and Joe Donovan, director of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship at MDA. Submitted photo

The invention by an engineering professor at the University of Mississippi is part of a grant program from the Mississippi Development Authority that aims to commercialize technologies related to energy and agriculture.

Professor of Chemical Engineering Paul Scovazzo and his brother Anthony Scovazzo hold a patent for a humidity control system in air conditioners that could lead to more efficient air conditioning systems and healthier indoor environments in buildings commercial and residential.

The Brothers Vacuum Sweeping Dehumidification System was chosen as a project for the inaugural Mississippi V-Quad Incubator Network by the Mississippi Development Authority. Thanks to MDA, the project received a development grant of $ 5,000.

The mission of the V-Quad program is to create a network of innovative virtual incubators to support Mississippi entrepreneurs and innovators who launch businesses focused on energy and agriculture-related technologies.

“Many of the technologies developed in university research are struggling to move to application,” said Paul Scovazzo, an assistant research associate professor in chemical engineering who joined Ole Miss faculty in 2003. “Mentoring and helping that come with being part of the cohort help with the transition of our technology.

“I am also delighted that the funding provides an educational opportunity for a University of Mississippi undergraduate student in manufacturing research and development.”

The vacuum sweeping dehumidification system received a US patent earlier this year. The device features a new method and design for better removal of water vapor from the air which results in overall energy savings for an AC system as the removal Water vapor from the air is a major factor in the amount of energy needed to keep a home or business cool and dry.

The system saves up to 86% energy.

This technology can be used with existing commercial, industrial or residential air conditioners, as well as new construction. The system can also be used effectively in confined, small or difficult to access spaces.

“The technology can improve air conditioning and dehumidification / drying operations in residential, commercial and industrial spaces,” said Paul Scovazzo.

The Scovazzo brothers were inspired to invent their system after discussions with industry leaders that produce membrane separation systems. They also spoke with leaders in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry about unmet needs in AC applications.

Academic studies and laboratory experiments have indicated that the technology may address an unmet need in the market, but there is always a risk involved in scaling an idea into a new product that will be commercially adopted. .

“Without commercially viable prototypes, this risk will remain,” said Paul Scovazzo. “Therefore, the Accelerator Program assists in our commercial / commercial development through the production of viable commercial prototypes for long-term testing in commercial facilities using real process flows.

“Prior to the production of viable prototypes, the risk multiplier for cost-benefit analysis could result in a negative business assessment of the economics of the technology.”

These studies allow the team to identify the limitations of the humidity control system and develop solutions before building large-scale systems.

Alex Lopez, assistant professor of chemical engineering at UM, was the principal investigator of the MDA award.

“The Accelerator program is a great resource for innovation in Mississippi,” Lopez said. “This program connects inventors from UM and across the state with business experts to mature their ideas for commercial success.”

The university’s technology commercialization office briefed Scovazzo on the V-Quad opportunity, and that office, along with marketer Derek Stephens of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center, helped develop the V-Quad opportunity. grant proposal. The two organizations also made the patent application successful.

In addition, Ole Miss students helped inventors create previous test modules and system benchmarks.

With the patent for the vacuum sweeping dehumidification system in place, proof of concept testing has been performed and the university is seeking a development and marketing partner for the system.

The project is just one example of how the university is focusing on economic development in the knowledge and technology economy for the state, said Allyson Best, director of the Office of Technology. Marketing.

“MDA is a strong partner of the University of Mississippi and together we are helping to grow the Mississippi entrepreneurial network,” said Best. “It’s exciting to see Unified Messaging technology included in this great MDA program that will advance the state’s knowledge economy. “

The invention of Scovazzos is among 10 inaugural projects of the V-Quad program, which was created by MDA to produce public-private partnerships connecting Mississippi research universities, industry, government and organizations with purpose non-profit to form an entrepreneurial network based on technology.

Some of the other winning projects include the recycling of roofing shingles and the production of biomass-based graphene nanomaterials using renewable and sustainable by-products from the wood products industry.

V-Quad is one of 20 winners of the National Energy Program for Innovation Hubs Award, a U.S. Department of Energy program to recognize innovative and significant incubators focused on developing regional innovation hubs strong for energy-related technologies and entrepreneurship.


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