Atlanta—Thomas Watson, a former ASHRAE president and retired chief engineer at Daikin Applied, recently received the Institute of Refrigeration’s (IOR) J&E Hall Gold Medal Award for his ground-breaking 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,” said 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 the most 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 in February.
“Thomas Watson has long been an icon within ASHRAE,” said ASHRAE President Tim Wentz. “Thomas’ extraordinary technical expertise was coupled with a ready smile and a sincere desire to see our industry improved. The prestigious J&E Hall Gold Medal Award is further testimony of Tom’s important 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 innovative 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 impressive 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 new 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 conducti 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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