Thomas Watson, ASHRAE’s 2012-2013 president and retired chief engineer for Daikin Applied, recently received The Institute of Refrigeration’s (IOR’s) J&E Hall Gold Medal Award for his work to improve the efficiency of chillers and industrial heat pumps.
The J&E Hall Gold Medal Award 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 in February.
Watson’s work has included the introduction of large-capacity oil-free magnetic-bearing compressors and the first centrifugal chiller with zero ozone-depletion potential. He currently is working on the safe application of low-global-warming-potential flammable refrigerants.
"It was certainly surprising and overwhelming when I learned I would be receiving the award,” Watson said. “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."
Current ASHRAE President Tim Wentz said: “Thomas Watson has long been an icon within ASHRAE. 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, working with the Westinghouse Electric Research and Development Center. 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. He has been involved with ASHRAE since 1972, serving in various capacities. Most recently, he chaired the ASHRAE standards project committee that published the first American National Standard on Legionellosis.
Watson recently retired as chief engineer for Daikin Applied, for which he oversaw new-product development for centrifugal-compressor technology. He holds five patents related to refrigerant, gas, and chiller compressors.
Currently, Watson is the chair of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute Research & Technology Flammable Refrigerants Subcommittee, an international research program being conducted jointly with ASHRAE and the U.S. Department of Energy.