Paving stone-actuated heat exchanger garners green grant

The developer of ThermaPaver, an insulated aluminum panel potentially functioning as an all-climate heat exchanger, is one of six University of New Hampshire Green Launching Pad grant recipients. Portsmouth-based Therma-Hexx LLC notes that its device makes full contact with the undersides of ground- or pedestal-mounted, 2-ft.-square concrete paving stones, transferring their solar-generated heat via a bioglycol fluid to a domestic water tank or swimming pool—cooling the pavement as well. The closed-loop ThermaPaver technology can convey heat to or source it from geothermal systems and, in the winter, reverse the heat transfer process to melt snow and ice.

A former high-end Aspen, Colo., homebuilder, Therma-Hexx founder Robert Barmore calls the technology a “gamechanger” that enables users to recover significant volumes of untapped energy from concrete paving stones or roof pavers; addresses urban heat island effect by shifting excess energy to target points; and, holds strong potential to contribute to a project’s LEED rating points and qualify for tax breaks akin to those for solar panel installations.

High density attained through molding and vibration, he adds, equip paving stones for optimal thermal flow through the high conductivity-prone aluminum panels. The ThermaPaver assembly performs best when pavers’ undersides have been honed: The more surface contact between the aluminum and concrete, the more efficient the heat transfer. Initial testing has been done with architectural pavers from Wausau Tile of Wisconsin, a leader in specified hardscape work.

Barmore anticipates a ThermaPaver field installation by September, owing to pre-UNH Green Launching Pad grant product development efforts and inquiries from the mid-May American Institute of Architects Expo in New Orleans. Therma-Hexx’s $95,000 grant will cover the cost of UNH interns assisting in ThermaPaver engineering and intellectual property provisions, plus start up at the company’s Portsmouth plant.

University President Mark Huddleston, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu named Therma-Hexx and other Green Launching Pad grant recipients in late April. The UNH-hosted entity is supported with $1.5 million in federal economic stimulus funds channeled through the Energy Department. To grow successful green ventures, says UNH Professor and Green Launching Pad Co-Director Venky Venkatachalam, “We focus on each of five ‘Es’—energy, economy, environment, entrepreneurship, and education—by developing and supporting interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty researchers, and entrepreneurs and connecting them with industry experts and state-level resources.”