Retired ASHRAE President Receives Award for Improving Efficiency of Industrial Heat Pumps, Chillers

Thomas Watson, a former ASHRAE president and retired chief engineer at Daikin Applied, has received the Institute of Refrigeration’s (IOR) J&E Hall Gold Medal Award for his work to improve the efficiency of chillers and industrial heat pumps.

Watson’s work included the introduction of large capacity, oil-free magnetic bearing compressors and the first centrifugal chiller with zero-ozone depleting potential. He is currently working on the safe application of low GWP flammable refrigerants.

“It was certainly surprising and overwhelming when I learned I would be receiving the award,” says Watson. “Everything you do requires dependence on those around you from your co-workers and your family to supervisors and the people that work for you. This honor is not just for me. To be singled out is of course a tremendous privilege, and sometimes I don’t feel totally deserving because of all the things people have done before that I have built on.”

The J&E Gold Medal Award is one of the industry’s most prestigious honors and recognizes noteworthy practical contributions in the field of refrigeration. Watson was presented with the gold medal and a check for £5,000 by IOR president Steve Gill at the IOR annual dinner in London.

“Thomas Watson has long been an icon within ASHRAE,” says ASHRAE President Tim Wentz. “Thomas’ technical expertise was coupled with a ready smile and a sincere desire to see our industry improved. The J&E Hall Gold Medal Award is further testimony of Tom’s contributions to the industry worldwide.”

One of Watson’s major contributions was the development of the Templifier industrial heat pump. He was the lead engineer on the project and worked with the Westinghouse Electric Research and Development Center on this technology. The pump provides high-temperature hot water recovered from numerous sources such as heat normally rejected by cooling towers and condensers for process cooling.

Watson’s career spans nearly 45 years, and he has been involved with ASHRAE since 1972 serving in various capacities, most notably as president in 2012-13. He has also held roles on several technical committees as well as serving numerous positions on the ASHRAE board of directors. He most recently chaired the ASHRAE standards project committee that published the first American National Standard on “Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems.” Watson recently retired as the chief engineer at Daikin Applied where he has overseen product development for centrifugal compressor technology and holds five patents related to refrigerant, gas and chiller compressors.

He is also currently the chair of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigerating Technology Institute Research & Technology Flammable Refrigerants Subcommittee, where he is helping conduct research into the safe application of low global warming refrigerants that are flammable. This is an international research program that is being conducted jointly with ASHRAE and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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