Trends in HVAC Technology

By Neal Lorenzi of Health Facilities Management, interviewing Mike Patterson, Product Manager, Centrifugal Chillers, Trane

  1. What are the big issues for chillers in hospitals? What challenges do hospitals pose to chiller manufacturers?

The concept of “population health” is becoming increasingly common in healthcare. This is a more holistic, proactive approach to patient care, which the healthcare facility plays a vital role in. As a result, there is increasing pressure to make sure the right facility investments are made.

Hospitals have unique energy needs due to their around-the-clock operation and energy-intensive medical equipment, which puts a huge demand on chillers. Hospital owners and facility directors require chiller systems that not only help them meet demands and requirements related to temperature, humidity levels, infection control and providing a comfortable environment for patients and workers, but are also energy efficient and will help meet building performance goals and reduce costs.

Trane focuses not only on the individual chiller, but also on how the chiller will perform in the specified building application. While it’s important to choose chiller equipment that delivers high-efficiency performance, it’s even more critical to take into consideration all the systems within a hospital. This is important because installing a high-efficiency chiller alone may not yield the building performance hospitals are seeking to reduce energy costs. However, placing greater emphasis on total-system efficiency instead of chiller-only optimization helps ensure that all components of the system (not just the chiller) integrate for seamless operation and energy savings throughout the life of the system.

  1. What new chiller product have you recently introduced to the hospital market? What are its key features for improving efficiency?

Trane continuously seeks to enhance its product offering to provide the highest efficiency and most reliable chiller solutions in the market. Most recently, Trane has expanded its Series S™ CenTraVac™ chiller line with the new CVHM model to provide customers with a design solution focused on reducing the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through reduced energy consumption and the use of low pressure, low GWP refrigerant. The new CVHM model operates with R-514A next generation refrigerant with ultra-low GWP of less than two.

In addition, the chiller’s industry leading efficiency is achieved through innovative AdaptiSpeed™ technology, the integration of an all-new specific speed, direct-drive compressor, a permanent magnet motor and the Adaptive Frequency™ drive. The Series S specific-speed compressor features the industry’s first mixed-flow impeller design. Offering the best attributes of both radial and axial designs, the impellers enable the compressor to deliver better efficiency across a wider operating range.

  1. Overall, how is technology changing for control of chillers in hospitals? 

The internet of things (IoT) has provided a new level of insight into the overall operation of heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, enabling a greater level of efficiency and reliability. When working with customers, Trane takes a systems approach, focusing not only on the individual chiller, but also on how the chiller interacts with the other building system components. When a chiller is ‘connected,’ it broadens the realm of possibilities. The chiller can do something as simple as matching its operation to the building’s actual occupancy and load, or a more complicated optimization like switching energy sources.

Wireless technology offerings are increasingly vital options in hospital facilities given their flexibility and meeting building needs. Trane Air-fi™ wireless system operates on BACnet®, which is an open, standard communication protocol that provides the ability to integrate multiple HVAC systems and BAS together — allowing for more intelligent and effective hospital management.

Integrating information from multiple systems can help a hospital when it wants to track important key performance indicators in areas such as infection control, which can involve monitoring and keeping control of humidity levels and air changes for critical areas of the hospital. By continuously monitoring the chiller’s operating conditions and performance, facility managers can quickly react to changes any time − day or night − addressing potential problems before they become more serious.

  1. What is happening with refrigerants? With the phase-out of HCFCs, what is recommended for new equipment?

With the global increase in the use of refrigerants, regulations have continued to evolve, and Trane is ready to support customers through the phase-out of HCFCs and global phase-down of HFCs through the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Trane provides customers with product choices that balance performance and sustainability without compromising safety, reliability and efficiency. In order to do this, Trane has expanded its chiller portfolio significantly in the last 18 months to address the increasing customer demand for climate-friendly systems. Our promise has always been to deliver the right refrigerant in the right product at the right time, ensuring that products achieve all regulatory requirements.

Ingersoll Rand created the EcoWise™ portfolio as part of the company’s Climate Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its products and operations by 2030. Trane chiller products within the EcoWise portfolio meet the following requirements:

  • Are available with next-generation, lower-GWP refrigerants
  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Maintain safety and energy efficiency through innovative design
  • Meet or exceed emissions regulations

Trane offers water-cooled and air-cooled chillers within the EcoWise portfolio from 80 to 4000+ tons.

  1. What about sizing? For hospitals, is it best to use one large chiller or multiple smaller units?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a hospital. Due to redundancy requirements, it is extremely rare for any healthcare facility to use a single chiller. In healthcare, downtime is not an option and the ability for a chiller to come back online is critical – if one chiller fails, a standby unit needs to be ready to take on the total load. In addition, not having the right amount of chillers in the plant can negatively impact performance or result in capacity shortfalls.

In the past, many hospitals would install one small chiller to satisfy smaller night-time loads or for heat recovery. The February 2017 ASHRAE Journal article, “Using Low-Load Chillers to Improve System Efficiency,” states in its summary, “…using 2016 design practices, a system using a (same size) … chiller saves more energy than the ‘low-load chiller’ system, except in a climate that is hot and humid all of the time.”

Facility managers should focus on system efficiency by installing same size chillers with a variable speed drive on one of those chillers for use during low-load conditions.

A resource that is commonly used within the market is the 50% Advanced Energy Design Guide for Large Hospitals (50% Hospital AEDG). This design guide was co-developed by ASHRAE and several of its partners to promote building energy efficiency. It details multiple chilled water system features that will increase the energy efficiency of the building to include: chiller-tower optimization, low flow and high delta T designs, and heat recovery.

  1. What advances do you see in the future for hospital chillers?

With the continued focus for hospitals to conserve energy, save money, and build more sustainable operations, leveraging options that increase efficiency and lower environmental footprint will be key in creating systems for the future.

As chiller plants become more sophisticated in order to meet the complex hospital application requirements, so do the new chiller testing capabilities. With many advancements in the area, manufacturers can now offer factory testing under ‘real-world’ conditions that simulate operation of a specific project and application versus a standard Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) test. The growing testing capabilities allow for documented proof of chiller performance and efficiency for the specific application before it leaves the factory, which more organizations will require in their quest to improve energy efficiency.

Additional chiller system advancements that are gaining momentum are heat recovery, free cooling and thermal energy storage. Chillers with heat recovery reduce the ancillary power necessary to reject the heat while also reducing the amount of purchased heat required. This reduces operating costs and lowers the emissions output through the reduction of burned fossil fuels, such as natural gas, that would otherwise be needed to generate heat.

Free cooling is a refrigerant migration feature that can provide up to 45 percent of the nominal chiller capacity, without running the compressor – reducing energy use and annual operating expenses for a hospital.

With a thermal energy storage system, the chiller makes ice during nighttime hours — when utility rates are usually at their lowest — which is then used to help cool buildings during peak-rate daytime hours. Ice-enhanced cooling systems not only use less expensive electricity, they also use less of it, in a more environmentally sustainable manner. In fact, ice storage systems are specifically identified by the U.S. Green Building Council as being eligible for LEED® design credits.

Trane, the Trane logo, CenTraVac, AdaptiSpeed, Adaptive Frequency, Air-Fi, EcoWise are trademarks of Trane in the United States and other countries.

 

 

Predictive Building Analytics: The Future of HVAC Automation

by Neil Maldeis, Energy Solutions Engineering Leader

Would you feel more confident in your building’s performance if technology could predict equipment failures before they happen? In the Internet of Things (IoT) age, this level of insight is possible and is known as predictive analytics.

Across all industries, IoT is expected to grow from $900 million in 2015 to $3.7B by 2020.1 Thanks to the expanding amount of smart technology, many things we interact with daily — including televisions, refrigerators and stereos — have internet-capable sensors to make every-day tasks easier. Even though this might seem like a 21st century fad, IoT is driving business growth in all industries, including HVAC.

 

 

Rapid Growth in IoT

The global building automation and control systems are marketed to grow at a CAGR of 9.52 percent from 2017 to 2021.2 This rapid IoT growth is allowing building owners and managers to proactively manage their facilities with technology that turns electricity, security, lighting, appliances and HVAC activity into data. And the ability to collect and analyze actionable utility insights is driving major savings and efficiencies in commercial buildings.

The latest technology — ultrasonic technology, electromagnetic Induction, vibration analysis and infrared thermography — anticipates equipment failures in real-time. This allows building owners and facility managers to predict equipment failures before they happen, potentially decreasing maintenance costs by up to 25 percent.3 In fact, this predictive maintenance can eliminate approximately 70 percent of unexpected failures and reduce downtime by up to 50 percent. 3

As such, predictive analytics could be the next phase of IoT. To get started, there are three key steps to equipping a building with data-gathering technology and learning to effectively analyze it.

1.      Installing smart technology: Installing smart technology allows data and insights to be collected and evaluated at all times. For HVAC, this technology measures and analyzes how often equipment is running, when a building is occupied and how quickly set points are met. Having a partner that does not believe in the one-size-fits-all approach will help structure a solution that is most appropriate for a building owner’s or manager’s needs and business goals.

2.      Gathering data from key equipment and appliances: Multiple technologies will likely be used to monitor and manage all aspects of a building, not just HVAC. This is known as a connected building — where technologies are integrated to give building owners and managers a big-picture overview to how the building in running and operating. Tracking and collecting this information overtime will develop a baseline performance to compare with when accessing performance and maintenance needs.

3.      Analyzing the data and develop a corrective action plan: Users can view and analyze the data being collected using a visual source such as a dashboard and mobile interfaces. Data visuals can help see performance patterns, so real-time adjustments can be made faster and more effectively. Building managers and owners can do this remotely to make more informed decisions anywhere at any time. Because not every building is the same, the data shown on these visuals can be customized to each user.

Quantifying energy use patterns and mapping performance over time is a move toward predictive analytics. And doing so with a reliable and knowledgeable partner can help you determine which predictive maintenance and visual data approach is best for your building. Trane® offers predictive services along with its smart technology for customers who experience excessive failures and associated costs.

Trane recently included its predictive service as part of a larger project to reduce operational costs. It partnered with Crosstown Concourse to increase its building’s value. Charged with redesigning its 90-year-old system, Trane optimized Crosstown Concourse’s HVAC system. In the end, Crosstown Concourse could start collecting data, helping identify how its building consumes energy, diagnose equipment performance and meet its energy reduction goals.

A partner like Trane can determine what data should be analyzed based on a building’s needs and function. A partner also can determine when predictive maintenance is a must and how to start developing a performance pattern. IoT will be around for the long haul, so find your source to smart technology and consider which data you need to track now to be set up for the future.

The Secret of Turning Data into Revenue

By Matt Gates, director of Intelligent Services Offers, Trane

Information technology advancements are bringing about a product revolution with smart, connected products that are more available and affordable than ever before. Near ubiquitous wireless connectivity, coupled with improvements in processing power and device miniaturization, have resulted in a wave of connected devices and systems in residential and commercial buildings.

This connectivity, referred to as the internet of things (IoT), is everywhere, which means your customers have more choices — and greater expectations.

Growing connectivity also means that more data can be gathered, so much data in fact, that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Collecting data just for the sake of data can be costly and time-consuming, and likely not helpful.

You can assist your customers in navigating these waters by helping them use building data to be more productive and efficient.

The right strategy is the key to turning the mountains of data into useful information that improves efficiency and performance, and has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Challenges and operating realities

Doing more with less, whether it be a reduced budget or fewer staffing resources, is the new normal for many customers. As financial pressures grow, capital investments often face more scrutiny, with a greater focus on reducing costs and improving efficiency and productivity. Building connectivity, and the data that results, can help address these operating realities.

Customers may ask, “Do we feel the building’s cost can be managed and improved by measuring its current performance?” The answer is yes, that better building performance reduces cost, and thus helps with some of the pressures they face as part of the new normal. The IoT can help with that challenge.

While access to building information is growing, technology advancements are driving the expectations of building owners and occupants. According to the Future Workforce Study 2016 from Dell and Intel, 72 percent of millennials expect to work in a “smart office” that uses the internet of things within the next five years. Also, recent survey data of corporate workplaces from Leesman shows that temperature control is among the most important physical features for workers in an effective workplace.

Customers are experiencing the IoT in other aspects of their lives, and they expect real-time access to their commercial building information as well. Customers also have more options as more service providers enter the market.

Given these challenges and realities, building connectivity is important, however, the key reason for connectivity should be providing value, not just gathering data.

Strategy creates clarity

To ensure that connectivity is providing value, strategy must come first. It is the key to figuring out what customers are trying to accomplish. Consider these questions:

  • How does this help my customer?
  • What are the customer’s unmet needs?
  • Does this fit our business, and is it part of our core competencies?

Begin brainstorming ideas with an internal team. Start with the end in mind, and ask, “How does this benefit my customer?” Follow up with identifying three unmet customer needs — two logical needs, and one “crazy” need, a practice that helps spawn innovation.

After this process is complete, assess the proposed solutions. For each solution, consider if it offers a clear customer benefit and a clear business benefit. Does it identify a known customer need or customer problem? Will the solution create a new revenue stream or enhance an existing one?

Once there is a clearly defined strategy in place that identifies the goals of using data — including the benefits it will generate — the tactics will become clear. You will have a better understanding of what data is needed to achieve the identified benefits, how that data can be collected, how existing databases can be used and connected to drive benefits, and how the resulting data can be used to optimally benefit your customer. After analyzing the data, you can then engage the right technology to implement the solution.

Following this process results in a well-thought-out action plan that can be executed and measured. Including measurement as part of the implementation plan is key to achieving the expected results.

Example: remote chiller controls

In one real-world example, the building owners wanted to manage and operate a more efficient and sustainable building. Their end goals were to deliver benefits to the bottom line through more productive employees and a better building environment.

Among their priorities were real-time dashboards for building equipment and actionable insights to help ensure building system efficiency. One solution, the implementation of a building energy management system (BEMS), helped put a focus on building performance and optimization.

The building chiller was connected to the building automation system (BAS), and the BAS was then connected to the cloud. This allowed for real-time access to system data and enabled users to remotely make schedule and setpoint changes.

The solution also allowed for the remote resolution of system alarms 24/7, in addition to energy usage reporting and visualization, and system-level optimization through analytics. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are among the largest energy consumers in a building, therefore, the ability to monitor energy usage can help building owners ensure that systems are operating as they should for greater efficiency and reduced costs.

From a service perspective, these remote capabilities provide significant advantages. Rather than spending time on triage or diagnostics on-site prior to maintenance or repair, system information provided remotely allows the service technician to be prepared in advance with the right parts or solution — or to sometimes even fix an issue remotely. This results in greater efficiency, lower costs to the customer and the ability to respond to more service calls in a day.

A strategic approach to address unmet needs

Technology advancements make the connectedness of devices and systems more accessible and affordable. The time is right to explore IoT capabilities and the benefits they can deliver to customers.

Keep in mind that it’s important to avoid implementing technology just for the sake of technology. Instead, take a strategic approach that focuses on solving the unmet needs of customers to help connect the technology to their business goals and outcomes, resulting in a positive impact on the bottom line.

 

 HSBC Tower Nets $150,000 in Annual Utility Savings Through Building Improvement

By Dino Giarrusso, Controls and Service, Solutions Leader, Trane Canada

Prince George–based property management firm Majestic Management takes pride in offering customers a high level of real estate experience and multidisciplinary technical skills among its 20-person staff. Their goal is to modernize several buildings in its portfolio to high-performance standards, with a focus on energy efficiency, building performance and comfort.

Included in their portfolio is the HSBC Tower, which is one of the premier office locations in Prince George, British Columbia. As the original heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment in the building approached the 40-year-old mark there were increasing challenges with energy efficiency and occupant comfort, and Majestic Management wanted to find solutions to reduce operational costs and make the building more efficient to maintain.

“Occupant comfort has to come first, but energy efficiency and low carbon footprints are also important for many of our tenants,” said Bob Hillhouse, president of Majestic Management.

Challenges of efficiency and comfort

Improving the energy efficiency of the HSBC Tower was a key concern, and issues of occupant comfort in the building were also critical, since Majestic staff spent significant time addressing hot and cold calls. Given the building’s aging equipment, property staff struggled to keep tenants comfortable and were unable to provide the simultaneous heating and cooling they desired in varying areas of the building.

This meant many of the building systems needed to be upgraded or replaced to help reduce energy costs and provide the necessary level of occupant comfort — while also adding asset value to the building and eliminating the risk of catastrophic equipment failure.

Majestic Management sought to convert the building’s antiquated equipment — including the induction fan, chiller and boiler — into reliable, energy-efficient systems and modernize the building’s zoning and ventilation to provide zoned capabilities and the comfort levels expected in a contemporary office space.

Because the 10-story building was fully occupied, upgrades needed to be completed during the shoulder seasons to take advantage of milder weather and to minimize disruption to business operations.

A range of efficient solutions

To find the right solutions, Majestic Management consulted with longtime partner Trane, which has worked with the company for nearly 40 years on engineering design, equipment and building services.

With conceptual input from Hillhouse, who also holds a B.Math degree in computer science with electrical engineering electives, numerous options were discussed. A turnkey design/build solution was developed to help enable building systems to perform as intended to answer long-term efficiency and comfort goals. A design/build process offered several benefits for the project, including faster design and execution time, lower cost to the building owner, less disruption to tenants, and a single source of responsibility via one project partner.

“Energy efficiency was of key importance, but so was our payback. Given that the building equipment was 40 years old and in need of replacement, we could either choose to replace the equipment like-for-like as it failed or do something out of the box,” Hillhouse said. “Trane helped us think outside the box, and in the end, it wasn’t that much more of an investment to have a highly efficient system.”

The two-phased project included not only the replacement of aging air handling units, chillers, boilers and building controls, but also implementation of a system redesign and energy-saving strategies from the Trane Building Advantage™ portfolio of products and services. Each phase took about 18 months from design to completion.

To improve comfort, a dedicated heat recovery chiller and water-cooled screw chiller were installed to match the capacity of the existing centrifugal chiller. The two-chiller combination enables simultaneous heating and cooling to better control temperatures and create zones within the building to satisfy individual comfort preferences. This provides much tighter zone control over temperatures. The two new chillers also operate efficiently to help reduce energy consumption.

In addition, the building ventilation system was modernized with the installation of new air handlers with dynamic air filtration.

The redesigned HVAC system also included additional energy-saving strategies and equipment, such as:

  • The cooling towers were reworked to include a free cooling option.
  • Boiler piping was revised and boilers were replaced with low-temperature condensing boilers to reduce gas consumption.
  • Variable frequency drives were included on the new boilers and on other equipment to reduce fan, gas, and electrical energy use and operational costs.
  • Induction box operation was also modified to allow switching between warm water, cool air and cold water warm air. The improvements to the induction boxes allowed boiler temperatures to be lowered to 35 degrees Celsius versus the previous 60 to 70 degrees Celsius, allowing the heat recovery chiller to take care of most of the daily heating requirements. Boilers generally don’t start until source temperatures to the heat recovery chiller are no longer favorable.

Collectively, the new equipment and system upgrades provided energy consumption reductions by improving north, east and south zoning that allowed for much better temperature control in the building.

Heat recovery was one of the technologies that Majestic Management officials were excited to implement in the HSBC Tower. The building’s new heat recovery chiller system utilizes heat recovery, which provides additional efficiency. In this system, recovered energy is used in various ways inside the building, so the system only expels the remaining heat that is not needed.  

The dedicated heat recovery chiller recovers and reuses return air heat, eliminating the need to use boilers during shoulder seasons and when the building is occupied through the majority of the winter months. When outdoor temperatures rise, the water-cooled screw chiller works with the dedicated heat recovery chiller to satisfy the cooling load.

Water from the heat recovery chiller is used for all building perimeter heating. This transfer of energy helps to make the building even more efficient; the building is about 240 kilowatts away from being completely self-balanced, meaning it can reject as much energy as the building requires for operation. As a result, there is little to no need for heating and cooling requirements that use new energy.

Significant utility savings

With the improvements, every perimeter office is now a separate zone in the building, which helps maintain better temperature control and satisfy comfort needs and preferences.

In addition, energy costs have decreased by more than 50 percent since the solutions were implemented — with savings of more than $100,000 annually in electricity costs and about $50,000 annually in gas costs. The project was also awarded energy incentives of $100,000 and another $100,000 in tax incentives.

With Majestic Management, Trane, project engineers, contractors and suppliers working as an integrated team on the project, the implemented solutions at the HSBC Tower have helped significantly improve tenant comfort, drastically reduce energy costs and lower operational life- cycle costs.

Improvement efforts continue in the building — with performance, efficiency and comfort as ongoing priorities.

Condensing boilers
Another high-efficiency solution used in the HSBC Tower project is condensing boilers, which are water heaters fueled by natural gas.

Condensing boilers achieve high efficiency — typically up to 99 percent — by condensing the water vapor in exhaust gases and then recovering the latent heat of vaporization, which would otherwise be wasted. This condensed vapor leaves the system in liquid form.

Condensing boilers are ideal in an application such as this, where they utilize low fluid temperatures and work in conjunction with heat recovery chillers to provide space comfort.  

Aiming for Net zero

Majestic Management President Bob Hillhouse wants to turn the HSBC Tower into a net zero building with respect to heating and cooling with improvements and system upgrades. Some of the energy-saving strategies employed in the building include:

  • Maintaining building temperatures using low-temperature heat (90 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit) versus heat of 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The building captures waste energy and lifts it with a Multistack dedicated heat recovery chiller to heat the building.
  • The building automation system (BAS) has been upgraded and optimized to effectively use the minimal amount of heat from the gas boilers.
  • Property managers are considering replacing the high-temperature (180 degrees Fahrenheit) fin-style radiation on the main floor with new low-temperature (125 degrees Fahrenheit) perimeter fan coils.

“We’ve been quite happy with the solutions Trane provided,” Hillhouse said. “We’ve had huge improvements in energy efficiency. In fact, we’ve been advised that this building ranks within the top 10 most energy-efficient buildings in Canada for this climatic region.”

A Touch of Alchemy Transforms a Vermont Brewery

A Touch of Alchemy Transforms a Vermont Brewery

“When people walk in the door, their jaws drop,” said John Kimmich, co-owner and head brewer at The Alchemist Brewery. “The natural light, the energy efficiency of the building — it’s a church to beer.”

The original Alchemist location opened in Waterbury, Vermont, in 2003. After eight years of success, co-owners John and Jen Kimmich decided to open a second location in Stowe, Vermont, to help meet their growing production needs. The second location of The Alchemist Brewery was built with a vision of breaking from fluorescent-lit monotony, to create a beautiful, inviting space for beer enthusiasts to come together, relax and enjoy the brewery’s nationally respected Heady Topper IPA.

When Kimmich set out to build the brewery’s Stowe facility, he was determined to create a space that was as efficient as it was alluring. “We wanted to make use of the natural light, while considering the environmental responsibility of the brewery,” he said. Kimmich recognized the impact of the beer brewing process itself, and the number of wash-down and boiling procedures involved. The brewing process often creates a humid environment, so humidity control was billed as a top priority as construction on the second Alchemist facility began to take shape.

It was critical to control humidity for the space, and keep the process equipment and floors as dry as possible, to avoid the possibility of patrons slipping and falling in the tasting room. Of course, creating a comfortable environment was also top of mind, with the brewery hoping to maintain a 74-degree Fahrenheit indoor temperature and proper ventilation in the open floor plan. 

The town also had odor control and waste handling requirements for the brewery to abide by, which influenced the construction plans. “We wanted to keep our environmental responsibility in mind, to create the kind of place where you want to be, from everyone’s point of view,” said Kimmich.

The brewery’s construction manager brought the VHV Company in as their design/build contractor based on the company’s knowledge of the brewery process and experience with brewery applications. With a trusted relationship that spans more than 17 years, VHV contacted Trane to discuss project challenges and the best mix of heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and controls to support the operation.

Improving efficiency

An 80-ton high-efficiency air-cooled Trane® CGAM scroll chiller was selected to meet the facility’s needs. Featuring onboard pumps with variable frequency drive, the chiller reduces energy use and creates a comfortable environment for employees and visitors. With a limited building footprint, the chiller was installed outside to allow for more useable interior space for the brewery equipment and operation. Staying cognizant of the owner’s environmental concerns, a free cooling unit was also installed, allowing the scroll chiller to remain idle when low outdoor temperatures enable the free cooler to take on the full load. This greatly reduces energy use and helps meet sustainability requirements.

Enhancing comfort and air quality

Twenty-four feet above the production floor, the VHV team installed a Trane Performance Climate Changer™ air handler with a CDQ™ (Cool, Dry, Quiet) wheel to handle dehumidification and space cooling demands. Rather than lifting the entire air handler to put it in place, the modular unit was raised to the platform in eight sections where it was easily assembled.

After cooling and initial moisture removal via the cooling coil, supply air flows through the CDQ desiccant wheel, which attracts and holds water vapor from the saturated air. The wheel rotates slowly into the upper air path where moisture is released into the lower relative humidity airstream. The moisture is then removed through the cooling coil, and the process repeats.

With the wheel in series with the airflow, the CDQ system improves the dehumidification capacity of standard cooling equipment from 20 to 300 percent, enabling a 5- to 15-degree lower dew point. The CDQ system limits the amount of outdoor air required, eliminating the need for expensive charcoal filters to control odors. The system easily helps to resolve The Alchemist’s humidity concerns, while keeping costs low.

Controlling system operations and energy use

Well-suited to enable desired sequencing and effective equipment interface, a Trane Tracer™ SC building automation system (BAS) was installed to maintain space conditions. With the web-based Tracer SC, facility staff at the brewery can access systems remotely from their smartphone or tablet to ensure temperature and humidity levels are as desired, check airflow rates, adjust setpoints, troubleshoot issues or conduct daily tasks.

“It is really cool to be able to monitor the building and turn things down at night,” said Kimmich. “We don’t have to worry that things run and run and run just because we forgot to go in that room and check it that night. You can log in to your computer and see everything you need to, and make adjustments right there.”  

Easy-to-use custom graphics on the Tracer SC provide a pictorial representation of the building systems. With a click of the mouse, brewery staff use the intuitive system to complete a building check, make overrides, change screens from one floor plan to another and interface with specific pieces of equipment. They can also choose to look at data logs and trends to monitor system performance over time.

To accommodate the expansive floor plan, a Trane Air-Fi™ wireless system was used to connect the system controllers, unit controllers, air handlers, VAV boxes, fan coils and zone sensors, eliminating the time and expense of running conduit wire, and preserving building aesthetics.

Results

Working together, VHV and Trane delivered a complete design/build equipment and controls solution for The Alchemist Brewery’s Stowe facility, meeting the owners’ specific humidity, comfort and efficiency requirements. “Working with VHV and Trane enabled us to do this project in a way that suited our needs and timelines,” said Kimmich. “The result is a new facility that lives up to our standards, the high standards that have gotten us to where we are today.” With the facility’s environment taken care of, Kimmich and his team can get back to what they’re best at — “Turning matter into gold, that’s what we do.”

Deliver More Value to Your Customers with Building Integration

By Neil Maldeis, Energy Solutions Engineering Leader, Trane®

Connected buildings, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices are buzzwords in the industrial market. But do your customers have a true understanding of what a connected building is and the benefits that it can provide?

Connected devices, like lighting, security systems, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, produce data that can be captured and applied to significantly increase energy savings and operational efficiencies. Technology advances and the ability to turn building system data into useable information also enables a more sophisticated approach to service and maintenance. And because data can be gathered from one piece of equipment or from dozens, it’s possible to start small.  

The bottom line: It’s all about the outcomes that matter to your customers. Whether the goal is energy efficiency, cost savings or improved occupant comfort — a connected building can help building owners and managers achieve their desired outcomes. Delivering products and services that provide greater value over time enhances your relationship with your customers, making you more competitive.

Assessing the goals

Start by determining what a building owner or manager wants to achieve. Do they want a greater understanding of building performance? The ability to track utility trends? An easier way to control building setpoints remotely to improve occupant comfort?

A connected building is the answer to all of those questions, providing better control of building systems, remote access to system controls, a detailed view into real-time performance, and more advanced options for analytics.

It’s easier than ever to access building data, and technology advancements are driving the expectations of building owners and occupants.  With greater capabilities to control buildings comes greater possibilities for energy savings and comfort.

Choosing the right solution that takes advantage of the building data at your customer’s fingertips starts with understanding what customers want and need.

Decisions with data

A connected building starts with a building automation system (BAS), which aggregates data from equipment that is able to connect to the cloud or the Internet. As more connected devices are integrated into networks, more value can be delivered.

The real value is in the data that tells your customers how systems are operating and performing. The BAS can collect trends about average setpoints over a certain period, how often equipment is running, and hours of building usage. This information can be delivered in easy-to-read dashboards.

Equipment metering can also be integrated into a BAS, providing detailed utility data such as average kilowatt hour usage for specific pieces of HVAC equipment.

This information helps building owners and facility managers make informed decisions about how to operate the equipment to achieve better energy efficiency, track maintenance requirements, and dispatch service/maintenance personnel automatically.

Integrating building systems

A connected building can go beyond HVAC equipment — integrating other systems such as lighting, security, water and elevators. Building automation systems can dim lights, raise building setpoints, or slightly slow down elevators and escalators. Typically, these actions are unnoticeable to building occupants, but there are potentially large financial benefits.

This level of integration involves looking at the whole building and the way it is performing as a group of integrated/interdependent systems rather than as many independent pieces.

Varying types of systems — and even equipment from different manufacturers — can be integrated when they speak the same language. Or in other cases, a communication bridge can be used to connect equipment that does not speak the same language.

Look for equipment and systems that use open and standard protocols, such as BACnet®, LON® or ZigBee®. This helps ensure integration of different types of systems and equipment to drive value for your customers.

Which pieces should be integrated first —  HVAC equipment or lighting? It depends on what goals your customers are trying to accomplish.

Working with an equipment provider that has expertise in building controls and integration is helpful. An experienced partner can provide insight about which equipment and systems can be connected and integrated.

While most equipment is easier to install during new construction, there are many products designed for installation in existing buildings. Wireless communication products can be added to equipment to create connectivity, which means equipment does not need to have built-in capability to connect to the Internet.

Building connectivity doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Starting with one piece of equipment and implementing other devices in stages is possible, and can make it easier to take the first step.

Connectivity in the Real World

In one real-world example, a movie theater chain uses a building management system to integrate HVAC and lighting controls at each of its locations. These building-level systems connect to a web-enabled, enterprise-level BAS network. This cloud-based connectivity allows a facility manager to monitor, control and apply changes to its buildings across the country from a central location.

This system integration and enterprise-wide control delivers numerous benefits, including the ability to synchronize lighting and HVAC system setpoints with ticket sales and show time schedules. On Friday nights, as the cinema lobby fills, the theaters automatically adjust as tickets are sold, ensuring that the crowded new release showing is cool, while the less popular screenings are temperate. The theater chain saves money by leveraging automatic heating, cooling and lighting adjustments based on occupancy needs.

Advanced services available through the theater’s building management system also provide remote resolution of system alarms 24/7 and intelligent dispatching of system information and troubleshooting to the technicians’ handheld devices.

In another example, a regional microbrewery uses the connectivity of a building management system to gather enterprise-wide system data from locations in 13 states. The web-enabled building control provides corporation-level access to all of the sites, providing cloud access to enterprise data and the ability to view and adjust site conditions and equipment operation from mobile devices.

Deliver benefits with integrated control

Connected buildings provide capabilities to improve building performance, reduce energy use and operating costs, shrink a building’s environmental footprint, and enhance reliability and uptime. Your customers can reap these benefits long term, but it all starts by choosing the right systems and controls at installation.

Solutions that deliver value and efficiency over the life of the system, like the connected system at the movie theater, optimize customer’s building operations. Keeping customer expectations top of mind can guide you as you determine the best equipment, systems and controls to meet their needs. 

 

Smart devices give facility managers access to building data, which can be used to make improvements to increase energy efficiency and cost savings.

 

Building management systems can be applied to most commercial environments. They enable building owners and facility managers to integrate HVAC, lighting, electrical, security and alarm systems into one easy-to-manage controls platform.

Author biography

Trane energy solutions engineering leader Neil Maldeis has more than 35 years of experience in the contracting and energy fields, and is a licensed professional engineer. Maldeis is certified by the Association of Energy Engineers as a Certified Energy Manager and Certified Green Building Engineer.

 

Seeing the Big Picture in Building Design

By Al Fullerton, Systems Leader, Trane

To maximize efficiency of the entire building It’s important to first consider how to make the entire system more efficient before going granular and looking at individual pieces of equipment.

In commercial building design, individual pieces of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment are often selected based on their efficiency. It’s natural to want to choose the most effective solution, and many times we consider this through the performance of an individual component.

But is this really the best way to achieve the most efficient building performance?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the most efficient piece of equipment may not always result in the most efficient building or system performance. There are many variables that contribute to optimized building performance. It depends on how the building is being used and occupied, how the various pieces of equipment in the building interact and work together, and what the goals are for the facility.

This makes it important to look beyond the efficiency of a single piece of equipment and instead consider building performance and efficiency — seeing the whole as greater than the sum of its parts.

Taking this approach can result in improved energy efficiency and operational cost savings, and play a role in meeting goals your customers may have for sustainability, energy consumption and efficiency.

Why is whole building design a better approach?

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is a common concept. Applying it to building design can provide significant value and results. For building owners and managers, it can result in improved energy efficiency, lower first cost and overall cost savings. For engineers and contractors, understanding and meeting customer needs with a systems-design approach can provide a competitive edge.

Rather than asking which individual pieces of equipment are the most efficient, the question becomes how to make the entire system more efficient? Resisting the urge to go granular immediately — and instead taking this systems approach upfront — helps maximize efficiency of the entire building.

It starts with understanding what the building owner or facility or property manager is trying to achieve in their facility. What building outcomes are being sought? Is the driver LEED certification, a net-zero building, a corporate sustainability goal or other benchmarks or regulations?

Next, consider how the building will be run and when it will be occupied. The needs of a commercial property differ greatly from the needs of a hospital, for example. Knowing how the building will be used provides a better understanding of full-load and part-load performance, which helps determine what equipment and systems are best suited for the building.

From there, move backward into what building systems best match these goals and needs. In addition, it’s important to look at how the various building systems — from plumbing, lighting, security and HVAC — interact and best work together to optimize building efficiency.

Consider this example: Many chilled water systems are designed to pump 2.4 gallons of water every minute for every ton of chilled water to be produced, and 3 gallons per minute of water for every ton of coolant to be made. If a chiller is selected based on these conditions, the end result is a lot of water being pumped around a building. By contrast, using a whole system approach can save significantly in the amount of water and energy used. While in this option the chiller may initially look less efficient, it actually uses much less pumping energy — especially at part-load conditions — and results in a much more efficient system-level performance.

As more organizations and states enact increasingly stringent energy-efficiency goals and regulations, the industry recognizes that systems-level efficiency provides a great opportunity for improvement in this area. The Alliance to Save Energy made a case for using a systems-level approach to improve energy efficiency in a recent white paper, “Greater than the Sum of its Parts.” The white paper notes that in addition to reducing energy use and associated costs to consumers, a systems approach has the potential to achieve significant non-energy benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved grid reliability and resilience, water savings, extended equipment life, and increased occupant comfort and productivity. Studies have estimated that the quantifiable non-energy benefits can add 25 to 50 percent to the total monetary benefits of energy efficiency.

Key strategies for a systems-level approach

Consider these key strategies that can help in successfully implementing a systems-level approach in building design:

  • Understand the utility cost structure. Don’t choose building systems and equipment without having a clear understanding of the utility rates and structure for a specific building and location. Understanding the utility rate structure — which often includes consumption charges and demand charges — allows for a more accurate analysis of building performance based on how the building will be occupied and used. In some areas, demand charges can comprise up to 75 percent of the monthly utility bill. Knowing this can help in choosing the most efficient system from a utility bill perspective, such as taking advantage of the load-shifting capabilities of a thermal storage system. It’s often helpful to consult a partner who offers expertise in building systems and equipment, as well as in utility rate structures and billing.
  • Consider the total budget. Selecting the building systems and equipment that will best provide optimized efficiency and performance for a specific building also hinges on the budget — both upfront and long-term for staffing and maintenance. Selecting a system that requires less long-term maintenance can help an organization save staffing costs in the long run.
  • Understand the needs. Asking the right questions about how the building will be used and occupied is a critical consideration in choosing the systems and equipment that will provide the most efficient performance. For example, it typically takes several years after construction for most data center facilities to operate at full load. However, those early years of part-load operation are often not considered in building design when choosing the systems that will offer the most efficiency. It’s important to consider how systems and equipment will perform under partial loads.
  • Use a modeling program. Using a building modeling or energy simulation program in building design contributes to sound decision making — and it can pay off in improved energy efficiency and performance. Modeling allows you to optimize the systems from an energy and utility bill perspective before construction even begins. It’s important to model against the potential optimized performance of the whole building and its systems, rather than modeling against performance of individual components.  

How can it pay off?

While improved energy efficiency and utility savings are significant benefits of system-level design, using this method can pay off in other ways.

Better fresh air ventilation or better acoustic levels in the building are examples of secondary benefits that can result from proper system design. These features can result in fewer complaints, as well as in more productive occupants.

Some systems also offer benefits for ease of maintenance and reduced risk down the road.

It is possible to use a single provider with expertise in equipment and system design and building optimization. This can help reduce risk and ensure a more efficient design and planning process. A knowledgeable partner can also help assess the best opportunities for efficiency.

Seeing the sum instead of the parts

What is it that your customers want to achieve in their building, and what is the best way to get those results? Considering these questions at the start of the design process can help in choosing the systems that are best suited for the job — and help your design stand out.

A building design process that focuses on the efficiency of the whole building — rather than on the efficiency of individual components — can improve energy efficiency and help you better meet the changing priorities of building owners.

Author Bio
Al Fullerton is Intelligent Systems Leader for Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. In this role, Al leads a team of engineers focused on expertly applying Trane Systems. Al has worked in the HVAC industry since graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in June of 1981.  

 

VFD APPLICATION GUIDELINES

By Colmac Coil

Background

The application of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) in heating and cooling units is becoming more common every day.  VFDs work by converting an AC voltage to DC voltage and then pulsing the DC voltage to simulate an AC sine wave at the required frequency to control motor speed. VFDs are an effective way to reduce energy usage but Colmac’s experience has shown that there are several design considerations to be accounted for in order to produce a successful application. These considerations are particularly important for extending motor life by reducing the potential causes of bearing currents and insulation breakdown that may arise with the use of VFDs.

Failure Modes

Bearing Current Failure – Improperly configured VFD systems can contribute to high shaft voltages which may result in Electric Discharge Machining (EDM). EDM occurs when voltage levels on the rotor/shaft exceeds the dielectric rating of the bearing lubrication and an arc is drawn across the bearings to ground. Every time this arc occurs a pit is created in the bearing race which, over time, will cause a fluted pattern in the bearing race. As the EDM continues to deteriorate the bearing surfaces the motor will experience vibration, increased noise levels, overheating, hard starts, overloads, and eventually, bearing failure.

There are several ways to mitigate the effects of EDM, however, these do not address the root cause. Such solutions include insulated or ceramic bearings and shaft grounding systems. While effective for mitigating EDM, these can have a high initial cost and represent an ongoing maintenance burden for the system.

Insulation Failure – The DC voltage pulses produced by VFDs travel down the conductors to the motor and can be reflected back to the drive. The reflected wave can increase in magnitude to the point where a partial discharge can occur (corona). This corona effect falls short of an actual insulation breakdown but can act to produce ozone which leads to carbon tracing and insulation degradation. Left uncorrected, the corona effect will eventually result in insulation failure and equipment damage.

Application Recommendations

System – When utilizing VFDs care must be taken to coordinate all components and to confirm their compatibility. The system designer and installing electrical contractor are responsible for designing the VFD electrical system to protect the specific motor(s) being controlled by the VFD.

Cabling – Conductors supplying motors should be rated and sized appropriately for the motor load, voltage drop, and environmental conditions. Line lengths between the VFD and motors(s) should be minimized wherever possible. Shorter line lengths will reduce the magnitude of reflected waves and, in general, benefit the longevity of the installation. Always follow the VFD and motor manufacturer’s specifications when selecting and installing conductors for a VFD installation.

Motors – Colmac motors are specified to comply with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standard MG1 part 31 requirements for inverter duty motors.

Grounding – It is essential the electrical system, building steel, motor and VFD be properly grounded. The National Electric Code (NEC) describes the minimum requirements for grounding and bonding an electrical system for safe operation. In addition to providing a ground from the drive chassis and motor frame to earth ground, Colmac recommends a separate ground conductor from the motor frame to the VFD ground bus. Proper grounding is a critically important means of mitigating reflected waves and bearing current failures.

Carrier Frequencies – Colmac recommends setting the drive carrier frequency as low as possible (typically 2 kHz). Lower carrier frequencies result in higher levels of audible VFD noise but will help to reduce destructive bearing currents.

Motor Speed – Generally it is not recommended to over-speed motors or to operate motors at less than 25% of the motor rated speed.

Filtering – The VFD’s DC output waveform is typically jagged and can be strongly influenced by the electrical equipment it supplies and the length and type of cables used to supply that equipment. It is important to keep this waveform within a safe range to protect both the VFD and the supplied equipment. External filters can be applied to the line and load side of the VFD to smooth out the DC waveform and protect the system from damage. In general, line side filters protect the VFD while load side filters protect the motor. Load side filters can extend motor life by decreasing bearing wear and by lowering the motor operating temperature. Three common types of load side filters are available today. These are Load Reactors, dV/dT filters, and Sine Wave filters. dV/dT and Sine Wave filters are more effective than Load Reactors at reducing reflected waves and voltage spikes. The use of dV/dT or Sine Wave filters ensures the longevity of the installation by ENG00020282 Rev 0, 04‐13‐18 ‐ Page 3 of 3 mitigating reflected waves, voltage peaks, and other potentially damaging transient effects. Colmac requires load side dV/dT filters or Sine Wave filters on all VFD applications.

Conclusions

There are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of VFDs applied to Colmac equipment, most of which are the direct responsibility of the system designer and installing electrical contractor. The general design requirements listed above represent the minimum criteria for proper VFD system design. Care should be taken to follow all the drive manufacturer’s recommendations and all applicable electrical codes and standards.

References

(1) http://www.greenheck.com/library/articles/58

(2) http://literature.rockwellautomation.com/idc/groups/literature/documents/in/drives-in001_-en-p.pdf

(3) http://literature.rockwellautomation.com/idc/groups/literature/documents/wp/drives-wp016_-en-p.pdf

(4) http://literature.rockwellautomation.com/idc/groups/literature/documents/wp/drives-wp019_-en-p.pdf

(5) https://library.e.abb.com/public/fec1a7b62d273351c12571b60056a0fd/voltstress.pdf

(6) http://www.eaton.com/ecm/idcplg?IdcService=GET_FILE&allowInterrupt=1&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&noSaveAs=0&Rendition=Primary&dDocName=AP043001EN

Four Ways to Maximize Energy Procurement Savings

By Drew Fellon, business leader for energy supply services, Trane

 

It’s well-known that energy costs are always one of the most significant portions of a commercial building budget. Finding ways to reduce that spend can be tricky, but there are ways you can impact it: reduce the amount of energy consumed, change the time of day energy is used, or reduce how much you pay for that energy.

Typically, reducing energy consumption is the go-to solution many building owners and energy managers use in an effort to reduce costs and improve sustainability. While this is an impactful way to decrease energy spend, there’s another, less-conventional strategy, that is often overlooked — even though it can yield significant savings — energy purchasing.

The obvious, though less common, solution is gaining traction in the industry as owners and managers explore ways to reduce their energy spend budgets. Developing a strategy for examining and assessing your energy procurement options can help you make the most of your commercial building budget.  

Consider these energy procurement best practices to help streamline the energy supply process, maximize savings and optimize efficiency in your next commercial building project.

Tip No. 1: Engage a knowledgeable partner

Energy procurement is a complicated process, compounded by the many factors that impact energy rates. Working with a reputable and knowledgeable partner makes the process easier — and can save your company money.

Energy procurement and management companies are powerful resources that can help you avoid spending too much on energy. These companies have long-standing supplier relationships and market intelligence capabilities that they leverage as they work with you through the procurement process and can assist you in getting the best deal possible. Using energy price forecasting, regulatory and legislative monitoring, and years of energy industry experience and contacts, an energy procurement and management firm can help you make insightful decisions to reach your company’s goals.

When choosing to engage an energy procurement and management company, select an experienced partner with insight into the full supply chain and industry pricing structure. This organization can provide visibility to the tens of thousands energy transactions taking place annually. Consider working with an independent advisor without ties to a specific energy company or market. This independence helps create loyalty to you, not the energy supply company, and will provide transparency throughout the procurement process.

The right procurement and management partner can help you navigate the energy purchasing waters — and prepare your company for trends that may impact the industry down the road.

Tip No. 2: Consider your goals

Saving money is typically the top priority for most energy and supply chain managers examining their energy procurement options. But as customers demand more efficient, environmentally conscious solutions for their buildings, many energy and supply chain managers are prioritizing sustainability and the use of renewable energy. When it comes to reaching these types of goals, you need to look beyond price in the purchasing process. It all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve.

If the goal is to reduce energy costs by 10 percent, then purchasing renewable energy is likely not the solution. And if you are hoping to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, you’ll need to buy a certain type of energy that may not always have the lowest price tag. All of which is to say, that putting sustainability first, can look very different than your typical energy procurement process and sources.

Because many energy contracts are long term (between 10 – 20 years), it’s important to take a comprehensive, enterprise-wide approach to buying renewable energy solutions. If your enterprise has buildings or operations in many states, you can achieve more buying power when you coordinate efforts.

Make sure you’re considering the total end cost of an energy contract. There are many factors that affect the final cost of an energy contract, and this may not be clear in every situation. An energy procurement and management firm can help you understand the total cost of the contract structure — not just the initially quoted supply price.

Tip No. 3: Link supply with demand

Before entering into a supply contract, you should fully understand all the factors that influence energy demand in your building — including the supply and demand relationship. Pay close attention to how much energy your building or enterprise uses, taking time to look at both prior and forecasted usage, to determine how much energy to buy.

It is imperative that the supply chain, which drives purchasing, communicates with the operations staff, who oversees day-to-day use of building facilities. Otherwise, the energy manager or supply side personnel may assume that because X amount of energy was used last year, X amount of energy will be needed again next year. When in reality, operations may plan to install a new production line or more energy efficient equipment that will impact the facility’s energy demand.

If your organization is going to take measures to reduce peak demand, you need to make sure your energy supply contract allows you to benefit financially — rather than potentially being penalized by your supplier. Demand-side reduction efforts should be negotiated into your supply-side contract. It’s also important to run a competitive bid process every time you seek a new supply contract, rather than allowing your current supplier to set the price. Doing so will help you secure the best deal for each new contract.

Tip No. 4: Plan ahead

Another common pitfall in energy procurement is waiting until just before the current contract expires to start looking for a new one. The energy market is seasonally cyclical and impactful market events can drive prices up or down for short periods. To avoid paying too much for your next contract, get an early start and take time to really dig into your options and review pricing. This is where working with an experienced energy procurement and management firm can yield big returns. Tracking the energy market daily and understanding how certain events will impact pricing over time are both critical to long-term buying success.

If your organization requires stakeholder approval of energy contracts, be aware of that and secure that approval in advance. This allows you to move quickly when the time is right, so you can lock in the best price. Not having the approval process in place could translate into delays and lost opportunities in terms of pricing, as prices are often only valid for a short period of time.

Purchasing with strategy

Your energy purchasing strategy is dependent on many things, most of which are out of your control. Weather, government regulations, demand charges, and new energy developments are all issues that can impact pricing for commercial customers. Taking control of your procurement options with thoughtful research, meaningful partnerships, conscious goal setting and extensive planning can help you make the right purchasing decision for your building. And remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Working with an experienced energy consultant can help you streamline the energy supply process to increase your savings.

Advantages of double-wall brazed plate heat exchangers in potable water applications

By: SWEP North America

Brazed plate heat exchangers (BPHEs) are one of the most efficient ways to transfer heat.  They are designed to provide unparalleled performance with the lowest life-cycle cost. Choosing brazed technology for your next heating or cooling project will bring many benefits, including savings in space, energy, and maintenance across HVACR and industrial applications.  BPHEs are quickly winning ground, thanks to their many advantages over older technologies (i.e. plate & frame, shell & tube), and consistently deliver successful results in many types of applications and projects.

BPHE technology embraces double-wall models suitable for a wide range of applications such as hydronic heating, district heating, radiant floor heating, gas boilers, solar domestic hot water systems, snow melting, heat pumps, and domestic and potable water heating systems.  They are suitable for many industrial applications too, including food, pharmaceuticals, chillers, transformer oil cooling, and lubricating oil cooling. Double-wall, high-quality BPHEs combine the high efficiency and compactness of the BPHE with the advantages of double-wall technology.  Double-wall BPHE technology ensures that liquids do not mix and makes any internal leaks visible – important factors in applications where safety is a priority.

While double-wall BPHEs are well established in European installations, they have also already been proven in applications in North America.  One example is a biomass application for a large pellet manufacturer in the US, where a solution for cooling gearbox oil was being sought. Traditionally, the oil was cooled with a fan coil that lost energy to the atmosphere.  Installing a double-wall BPHE instead enabled the energy to be captured from the hot oil and used to heat domestic hot water. The energy saved with this BPHE solution was around 27,000 kW per year (92127834 Btu/hr.), giving the end user payback in 20 months.  In another North American case, double-wall BPHEs provided an optimized solution for a leading water heater manufacturer. Here, they were used in instant water heating applications and domestic hot water for tank heating. When combined with a BPHE, the boiler need not heat the water to such a high temperature to achieve a suitable temperature for the end users.  BPHEs have therefore been able to displace older shell & tube technologies in these types of applications. The double-wall BPHE can heat water to the desired temperature so rapidly and effectively that it is not only more energy efficient, but also imposes a smaller load on the boiler.

Above all, however, is the huge benefit of double-wall BPHEs in preventing water contamination in potable water applications.  In the Netherlands, for example, the government requires double-wall technology in district heating networks. On safety grounds, this technology has been used in a large majority of tap water heater installations over recent decades.  At first glance, the heat transfer task in this case does not appear particularly complicated. However, there are two challenges. First, Dutch law prohibits single-wall heat exchangers in tap water applications with heat loads over 45 kW (153546.39 Btu/hr.).  Second, the maximum pressure drop on the hot water side must not exceed 15 kPa. The double-wall BPHE has been proven to solve this problem in the most efficient and reliable way possible. Should a leakage occur, for example due to corrosion, water will seep out between the vented double walls to the atmosphere.  The water seeping out from the BPHE gives a visual alarm that something is wrong. Contamination of the tap water by the heating water delivered by the energy company can therefore be prevented. The double-wall philosophy could assure the quality of the tap water for all European citizens, but the Netherlands is still the only market to have adopted this very useful technology to a significant extent.  However, awareness of the technology is increasing in other countries. The German government, for example, recommends double-wall technology in tap water applications without making it a legal requirement.

When considering double-wall BPHE suppliers, look for those combining extensive expertise with a wide product range.  If you are also seeking the additional security of third-party verified performance, check that your BPHE supplier can offer AHRI-certified double-wall products.  AHRI’s certification programs are well-recognized performance verifiers for heating, air conditioning, and commercial refrigeration equipment. Products connected to a program are tested annually by independent third-party laboratories, contracted by AHRI, to verify that they conform to performance ratings specified in data sheets and selection software.  This enables buyers to evaluate and make a fair comparison when selecting products for their HVAC installations.

 

Conclusion

Double-wall BPHEs are designed to deliver high thermal efficiency while at the same time providing a leak detection feature – this proves to be an excellent solution for potable water applications.  Contact SWEP today to find out more about our range of double-wall BPHEs and how they can provide optimized solutions for your applications!