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NUS-designed system helps Hyatt slash energy use, emission

01 August 2012

The desiccant dehumidifier, jointly patented by Grand Hyatt Singapore and NUS, dehumidifies outdoor air for the hotel lobby and dining room

The only engine in the world that operates on town gas and is capable of switching to natural gas when it becomes available

The Grand Hyatt Singapore has won the 2012 National Energy Global Award for Singapore as well as Achievement of Excellence in the Green Technology Awards winners at the Singapore Sustainability Awards 2012, thanks to a new eco-friendly trigeneration plant it jointly developed with NUS.

The first hotel in the world with such a retrofitted implementation, the system is set to cut the hotel's energy consumption by 22 per cent, helping it save S$800,000 in electricity bill. More importantly, its daily carbon dioxide emission of 5.72 tons will be slashed by 3.52 tons, which would amount to that discharged from 300 cars for a year.

The culmination of three years' work with NUS Department of Mechanical Engineering's industry-based design programme for undergraduates, the project resulted from the hotel's need to reduce its energy usage. It received support from the National Environment Agency's Innovation for Environmental Sustainability Fund.

After discussing the designs and requirements, the hotel engineers and NUS team mentored by Prof Ng Kim Choon decided on a trigeneration facility, which provides power, steam, hot water, space heating and dehumidification from a single system. Such a plant can attain high energy efficiencies of 70 to 80 per cent compared to the average 35 to 42 per cent for the conventional supply of electricity from the grid. By operating on gas, the system avoids energy loss associated with the transport of electricity; in addition, it traps and uses waste heat that is normally lost.

The residual heat generated by the new system is harnessed to produce steam and hot water for the hotel's laundry plant. The remaining heat is captured for dehumidifying the outdoor air introduced to the lobby and dining room. A silica gel-based dehumidifier unit was built for this purpose. Hyatt and NUS have jointly filed for a patent in the waste heat-driven dehumidifier developed.

Prof Ng served as the consultant for the engineering design and installation of the project that was successfully built by CNA Group Ltd. The trigeneration model is being considered for replication in Hyatt's other hotels.

The energy award is the latest achievement of NUS Department of Mechanical Engineering's industry-based design programme. Other projects have won accolades in the 2009 ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition, 2010 Shell Inter-Varsity Green Innovation Competition in Universiti Technologi Malaysia, 3rd prize in International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology (i-create) 2009, as well as the 2010 silver award from the Association of Singapore Marine Industries Workplace Safety and Health Innovation.