Engineering alumnus creates smart radiator

By Earn Saenmuk

Knowing that radiators are difficult to adjust and rarely accurate, Chris Moy, a recent Engineering alumnus, set out to create a system that would regulate a radiator’s temperature — MyHome.

About 10 percent of housing in the United States still uses steam and hot water heating, representing the majority of this market, according to The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority estimates that 15 to 30 percent of heat is wasted by steam buildings overheating, a common occurrence due to the nature of radiators.

Moy lived in the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house prior to graduation and he experienced the same problem. Every room in the house overheats, he said, and rarely were any of the rooms comfortable.

“All the rooms get uncomfortably hot or uncomfortably cold,” Moy said, adding that it was quite difficult to deal with.

Moy came up with the idea of MyHome, while talking about radiators with his friend Colin Lateano, a recent Media alumnus. The system requires replacement of the radiator’s old valve with a newly designed valve. They put temperature sensors in a different area of the room, and these sensors work with a mobile application that allows users to set a desired temperature. Through a wireless connection, the application will control the valve and ensure the radiator emits the correct amount of heat.

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    The group did research in the Chicago area about home radiators, and the responses were similar to what he and his friends thought.

    “Almost everybody we talked to said that it’s extremely difficult to regulate your radiator,” Moy said.

    Together with two other students, they went to the final round of the Cozad New Venture Competition, a competition hosted by the College of Engineering that encourages students to create new sustainable businesses. Although they did not win the competition, the group continues to work on this project.

    Moy works with several graduate and undergraduate students as well as an alumnus to design the valve and the application. They expect to have a production-ready model by October, so they can release the system in the winter and receive feedback from their users.

    They are planning to start a Kickstarter campaign after they have a more solid design. Moy said the University of Illinois is a great place to start new technology, and it’s really encouraging to stay on campus while working on this project.

    “Everyone here is really receptive to people trying to make something new,” he said. “There is a gigantic engineering population, we have the Research Park, and I know a lot of people here.”

    They are currently working on their first detailed model of the system. They chose Nylon with glass fiber, which is very heat-resistant, as the valve’s material. The model will be completed in two weeks.

    Earn can be reached at [email protected].