HVAC Technologies in 2018
HVAC technologies are constantly upgrading to be more energy efficient and environment friendly. Manufacturers are envisaging renewable energy sources and even completely reimagining the working of HVAC system.
Green HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air-conditioning) systems consist of compact and less complicated equipment to fulfil the immediate needs of a facility thereby providing energy savings. Although green HVAC concept is relatively new in India, the new technologies are being looked upon favourably by businesses for their reduced operating costs.
Integration of technology solutions has been the top trends in the HVAC segment. For example, the collaboration between Panasonic and Schneider Electric to deliver a wireless interface solution to control the HVAC equipment, security, lighting and power & electrical distribution, from a single system. Such seamless products offer businesses a better control on their utility operations.
Smart thermostats are example of enhancing energy efficiency and comfort. They allow temperature to be controlled and adjusted remotely through wireless networks, giving businesses the ability to easily monitor the system’s performance and achieve significant energy savings.
Desiccant Enhanced Evaporative (DeVAP) systems cool the air by employing an evaporative cooling system with a desiccant to absorb the humidity from the air. The system provides cool, dry using less energy and uses no harmful refrigerant.
Building automation systems (BAS) essentially controls the entire facility’s utilities from lighting, security and plumbing to HVAC, etc. Assisted by smart technologies and integrated systems within the BAS, HVAC solutions are increasingly becoming more automated to achieve greater consistency and optimization. Advanced BAS runs continual diagnosis for fine-tuning the system, preventive maintenance and to identify under-performing areas.
New buildings are now being designed with sustainable HVAC systems in mind. Integrated in the BAS are the natural airflow systems and alternative power sources to reduce energy costs. Daikin Applied’s Intelligent Equipment™ system, which is powered by a Linux OS and an Intel processor, allows users to monitor and control equipment with real-time data.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling remote capabilities to control a facility’s HVAC system. According to Emerson Climate Technologies prediction, by 2019, almost 75 per cent of thermostats will be Wi-Fi enabled. BAS provide controllability, but web-based alternatives add the benefit of sophisticated data collection, analytics and greater connectivity opportunities.
The IoT sensors help track a unit’s condition, usage patterns and other data needed to improve product design. Also, advances in IoT are making systems and appliances communicate with us in new ways, HVAC systems are now able to send an alert when it needs a repair or routine maintenance check, even scheduling the appointment on its own.
As experts point out, the indoor air quality is typically two to five times worse than outdoor conditions —a situation that can be remedied with a well-designed high-efficiency filters in the HVAC system. Automatic CO2 controller improves the ability of air-conditioning systems to adapt to variable indoor ambient parameters.
Also, fresh air quantities can be greatly increased when energy recovery from exhaust air is used to pre-heat or pre-cool fresh air. Heat recovery devices, such as air-to air heat exchangers, can recover 75% of the waste heat in exhaust air. A chilled-beam HVAC system is considered to offer better indoor air quality, because the supply airflow is 100% outdoor air..
A solar HVAC system uses solar panelling to absorb both heat (thermal energy) and light energy from the sun. For heating applications, the thermal energy is used to heat a fluid, usually a mixture of water and antifreeze, which then runs through a heat exchanger. The solar cooling system employs an evaporative cooling method, where the air is cooled simply by the evaporation of contained water.
Alternatively, the geothermal HVAC consist of a system of pipes buried underground about six feet below the surface, called an earth loop. While the ambient air temperatures outside rise and fall with the changing seasons, ground temperatures remain pretty constant. Geothermal heating and cooling systems take advantage of this consistency to heat and cool your building. Water is run through the underground pipes and is heated or cooled by the ground’s constant temperature. An indoor unit uses a fan, compressor and pump to deliver the temperate air through the building.
Innovative technologies are rethinking the HVAC systems. Here are some tech advances in HVAC to watch out for, though many of these are still on the drawing board.
Movement-Activated Air Conditioning: Engineers at MIT have come up with a new air conditioning design that utilizes sensors along aluminium rods hung from the ceiling. Movement then activates these sensors. In other words, the air conditioner only kicks on when people are present.
Thermally Driven Air Conditioning: An Australian company named Chromasun has produced a low-cost alternative to traditional A/C units. It uses solar energy and is supplemented by natural gas, making it a highly efficient and effective system.
Ice-Powered Air Conditioning: A California-based company has created an ice-powered A/C system called the Ice Bear that essentially works by freezing water in a tank overnight, so the ice can help cool a building the next day. So far, the design has been able to provide enough cooling for a building for up to six hours, after which, a conventional commercial air conditioner takes over.
Sensor-Enhanced Ventilation: This ingenious product by US based Ecovent consists of sensor-driven vents that replace a home’s existing ceiling, wall, or floor vents. A smartphone app can control the Ecovent, providing precise, room-by-room temperature control. Additionally, the system utilizes sensors to monitor a home’s temperature, air pressure, and other indoor air quality factors.
3-D Printed Air Conditioners: A company called Emerging Objects has created a 3-D printed “brick” that draws moisture out of an area to cool it. While this simple innovation is still a far cry from 3-D printed air conditioners, it’s just one example of the power of such a simple technology.
Heating from a Computer: Innovator Lawrence Orsini, founder of Project Exergy, has theorized how computers can be used for powering heating systems. Harnessing heat from a laptop or a computer that is used over several hours and generates heat is an innovation that certainly seems worth looking forward to.