Saturday, 31 August 2013

Fifteen dead in Shanghai ammonia leak

CHINA: Fifteen people are reported to have died and as many as 30 injured in an ammonia leak at a refrigerated warehouse in Shanghai.

The accident is said to have occurred at around 11am local time (4am UK time) at the premises of Shanghai Weng Brand Refrigerated Industrial Co, located at Baoshan Urban Industrial Park to the west of the city.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

This is the second major ammonia-related accident in China this year. In June, 120 people were killed and 70 injured at a poultry plant in Dehui City following an explosion triggered by an ammonia leak.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Adande supports Aircell tests at new facility

UK: Commercial refrigeration manufacturer Adande is supporting a new test facility in Bristol to accelerate the development of its Aircell air distribution system for refrigerated cabinets.

ECH Engineering has been established by Dr Ed Hammond as a test facility for any company seeking refrigeration research and development services and is already benefitting from a “six-figure” investment from Adande.

Adande will be using the laboratory to accelerate the development of its Aircell technology which is said to be able to deliver stable and accurate temperatures, as well as significant energy savings, when applied to open-front refrigerated multi deck displays.

The plant has been custom designed by ECH Engineering’s principal, Dr Ed Hammond, and Adande’s md, Ian Wood, to provide a state-of-the-art research, testing and development laboratory, with a minimal carbon footprint. Staffed by three PhDs, the facility is adopting a scientific and technical approach to the testing and development of refrigerated display equipment to BS EN ISO 23953.

The 160m2 laboratory provides the capacity for the testing and development of four refrigerated cabinets. A planned second phase of the project will see floor space doubled, creating the capacity for additional cabinets.

“We have been closely involved in the evolution of Aircell and the establishment of the test facility will allow us to dedicate additional resources to its ongoing development,” commented Dr Hammond.

Adande chairman, Nigel Bell, said that Aircell had attracted considerable interest from major multiple retailers and equipment manufacturers. “This new facility will help us accelerate the delivery of Aircell technology to the marketplace,” he added.

Unlike conventional cabinets, Aircell divides the merchandising envelope into separate cells between shelves. The smaller cells have a shorter air column and independent management of air movement. The net result is said to be less pressure on the air curtain of each cell and a substantial reduction in cold air spillage from the case. The performance of the Aircell system is also said to be further enhanced by the elimination of back panel flow, promoting temperature stability and product loading flexibility.

Low GWP R134a drop-ins show good results

USA: R1234ze and a new Daikin blend of R134a and 1234yf have shown good results in drop-in tests in an  R134a air-cooled screw chiller.

The Daikin blend – D4Y – virtually matched the capacity of pure R134a but its COP was 3.6% inferior to the established refrigerant. Although no GWP is recorded for DY4, its stated composition of 40% R134a to 60% 1234yf suggests a GWP of around 520.

R1234ze, a refrigerant already on active field trials in chillers in the UK, showed a reduced capacity (77.4%) compared to R134a but returned a 5.5% improvement in COP.

The tests were carried out at the Daikin McQuay facilities in Minneapolis as part of the US Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI) low-GWP alternative refrigerant evaluation programme.

Before the drop-in trials, baseline tests were first carried out with R134a on the 200 ton chiller with a single refrigerant circuit, variable speed screw compressor and economizer refrigerant cycle. All the tests were conducted using the same equipment and test facility without any modifications to the equipment, test facility or instrumentation.

No special problems or issues were observed during the testing. Both candidates were considered to have merits to be considered for further evaluation and it’s thought that system optimization could achieve a suitable compromise between efficiency, capacity, and cost. 

The full report can be found here.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Contractors report growing optimism

UK: Building services contractors have experienced an upturn in the market over the past six months according to a new survey by the Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES).

Overall, a fifth of respondents had seen an increase in their order books in the past six months and with an increase of enquiries there is greater optimism about future prospects for the sector.

In contrast to the findings of the previous two state of trade surveys – undertaken in July 2012 and January 2013 – both turnover and direct employment levels were reported
to have stabilised, and there was widespread expectation that workforce numbers
would increase in the short term, along with apprentice recruitment.

Also discernible were a slowing down of the drop in tender prices, the re-emergence of skills shortages in certain disciplines and a likely increase in investment in vocational education and training.

This brighter picture was evident across the UK, with the exception of the East Midlands and Eastern Counties, where more companies reported a decline, rather than an increase,
in their six-monthly turnover.

The principal negative elements highlighted by members were rising materials and, in
some cases, labour costs, and a further increase in the prevalence of pre-qualification questionnaires – with the larger members indicating that the introduction of PAS91
as a standard pre-qualification specification for use across the construction industry
has done little so far to simplify the process.

Rod Pettigrew
“The findings of this survey paint a rather more encouraging picture than we have seen since the start of the downturn – and one which should provide some modest encouragement across the building engineering services sector and the wider construction industry,” commented B&ES chief executive Roderick Pettigrew.

While acknowledging that the signs of recovery were fragile at best, he added that the time had come for all organisations involved in construction to start preparing for growth in the medium to long term.

“Of course, we still have a long way to go to return to pre-recession business levels, but  it does seem that many of our members do perceive a chink of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mr Pettigrew.

The third B&ES independent state of trade survey – covering the six months from January to June 2013 – was carried out across the Association’s membership by independent research organisation Lychgate Projects Ltd, in July. Over 150 B&ES members took part.

The Association has commissioned a further survey, covering the second half of 2013, to be conducted in January of next year.

Keep up-to-date at Star roadshows

UK: Users of industrial refrigeration and heating equipment are invited to keep up to date with the latest regulations and technological developments by attending one of Star Refrigeration’s roadshows.

The CPD-certified event will help end-users identify challenges within their business and outline strategies available to address these through practical guidance and advice. The conferences will explore maintenance methods that can have a direct effect on efficiency and reliability, reduce the total cost of ownership and cut environmental emissions.

The presentations will include case studies of completed projects along with specialist advice for a range of different market sector including food processing, dairy, process cooling, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, retail, temperature controlled distribution, brewing and distilling, leisure, building services, IT cooling and district heating and cooling.

The free half-day formative events are taking place across the UK on September 24 in Glasgow, September 25 in Leeds and September 26 in Reading.

To book a place to attend any of the three events, register free at

Monday, 26 August 2013

Legionella cases rise to 102 in German outbreak

GERMANY: The cases of legionnaires’ disease in the outbreak in Warstein had risen to 102 as of yesterday (Sunday). Two people have so far died.

The cooling systems at nine large companies – one a supermarket – in the 27,000-inhabitant city have been inspected and samples taken.

MHI to open office in Iraq

IRAQ: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd aims to capitalise on the reconstruction of Iraq by opening an office in Basra, the war-torn country’s second-largest city.

Scheduled to open on September 1, the new office will function as a base for flexible sales support and information gathering activities.

Iraq is seen as having high market potential, with numerous infrastructure improvement projects planned as the country's security situation is gradually restored. Japanese firms continue to enjoy a high level of local trust stemming from their participation in a large number of infrastructure projects during the 1970s, and the Iraqi government has repeatedly voiced its hopes that Japanese companies will take part in the country's recovery efforts.

Danfoss offers online industrial training

DENMARK: A programme of industrial refrigeration courses are now available completely free of charge on Danfoss Learning, an online education platform created by the Danish refrigeration equipment manufacturer.

Developed by experts and available 24 hours a day, the new industrial refrigeration courses include a full run-down on Danfoss’ SVL Flexline range of line components and a course on CO
2 refrigeration systems. 

The SVL Flexline is based on Danfoss’ modular ICF and ICV valves. Based on a common housing (angled or straight), the inserts in the SVL platform offer five different functions: stop, regulating, stop/check, check and filter.

All five function modules fit the same housing and have the same specification, easing selection, system design and mounting simple and trouble free.

Courses have been designed to build, update and upgrade technical competency skills in portfolio, technical characteristics, feature, benefits and main applications.

The new CO
2 industrial refrigeration module explains the main advantages of using CO2, describes the main types of systems and the range of CO2 products offered by Danfoss. 

 You can sign up for any of the courses at

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Johnson Controls and Daikin are top innovators

USA: Johnson Controls and Daikin remain two of the most innovative companies according to Forbes, the influential US business magazine and website.

The magazine’s latest league table of the top 100 most innovative companies across all business areas places Johnson Controls 71st in the list – up from 73 last year. Daikin, meanwhile, just holds on at no100 – down from 70 last year.

Forbes Most Innovative Companies List ranks the top 100 of what it considers to be the companies that benefit both from existing innovations and what's anticipated to happen in the future. Forbes uses its own Innovation Premium as a measure of how much investors have bid up the stock price of a company above the value of its existing business based on expectations of future innovative results (new products, services and markets). Members of the list must have $10bn in market capitalization, spend at least 2.5% of revenue on R&D and have seven years of public data.

Johnson Controls improved on its position with an Innovation Premium of 23 and 5-year annualised returns of 8.2%. Daikin achieved an Innovation Premium of 18.6, backed by average 5-year returns of 6.1% and a 12-month’s sales growth of 5.3%.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Russians intercept R22 ac units from China

RUSSIA: Customs officers at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk are said to have intercepted a shipment of 130 air conditioning split systems charged with R22.

The shipment from China, valued at around £28,000, were packaged and marked as being R410A units. The documentation, however, raised suspicions and tests showed the units actually contained R22.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Refrigeration to the rescue?

JAPAN: Refrigeration could come to the rescue of the Tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant which is still spewing contaminated water into the sea more than two years after the disaster.

Ground-freezing technology used in the building of dams and mines could be called upon to stem the seepage into the land and sea from the 300 tons of radiation contaminated water, which is pumped into the reactors every day in an effort to cool them.

Most of the water is recycled but a significant amount still seeps away despite an underground barrier built to try to prevent the contaminated groundwater from reaching the sea.

Now the Tokyo Electric Power Company responsible for the site is considering spending upwards of $400m to create and maintain what would be a mile long stretch of artificial frozen earth. According to the Japan Daily Press it would require 9.8MW of power to maintain.

Contrary to many reports in the Japanese press the technology has been tried and tested over more than 100 years. Freezing the ground as a means of providing temporary earth support and ground water control has been used in the mining industry and it is debatable whether either the famous Coulee and Hoover Dams would ever have been constructed without the use of ground freezing. In the case of the Coulee Dam, pipes were driven into the earth and fed by an ammonia/brine refrigeration system. Similar techniques are still used today.

Make your views on apprenticeships count

UK: SummitSkills has urged hvacr companies to make their opinions heard as the Government seeks to implement funding reforms to the apprenticeship system in England.

Employers have until October 1 to contribute to the Government’s consultation document on proposed options, which it says will give employers more direct financial control over training for their businesses and apprentices.

“The Government’s proposals recognise the importance of putting employers at the heart of training and apprenticeships, which we applaud,” said Keith Marshall, chief executive of SummitSkills, the sector skills council responsible for the building services engineering sector.

“However, a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not likely to reflect the views of the smallest businesses which make up such a large part of the building services sector,” he continued. “The current proposals risk overlooking their needs in favour of those smaller numbers of larger employers, with whom the government will find it easier to engage.

“If the training and apprenticeship funding needs of our sector are to be adequately addressed in future, the government will need to address this. If this concerns you, too, now is the time to speak out and let the government know your views on how this could best be achieved.”

The Government’s Consultation on Funding Reform for Apprenticeships in England is seeking views from employers, learners, training providers and further education colleges.

At the same time as it announced the consultation on apprenticeship funding, the Government announced that it is extending its Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme for another year, to help companies with 1,000 employees or fewer take on apprentices through a £1,500 payment. It anticipates this will create 35,000 extra apprenticeships.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rhoss deal extends Klima-Therm offering

UK: Klima-Therm has been appointed UK distributor for leading Italian air conditioning manufacturer Rhoss.

The agreement covers distribution of the manufacturer’s full range of high performance chillers, air handling units and fan coils. Klima-Therm will also provide the factory-backed support for existing Rhoss installations.

As part of the giant IRSAP group, Rhoss is a major European player with revenue of £60m on chiller sales alone, employing around 400 people.

Roberto Mallozzi, managing director of Klima-Therm, said: “Rhoss is a highly respected company with an outstanding record of quality and technical innovation. We are delighted to be taking on their range in the UK at a time when clients are looking for reliable, high efficiency, cost-effective alternatives.”

Fabrizio Rossi, md of Rhoss (left), seals the deal 
with Roberto Mallozzo, md of Klima-Therm

He added: “The combination of our existing award-winning Turbomiser chiller with the Rhoss offering provides a complete set of solutions for all building air conditioning requirements. From data centres to hotels, offices, shopping centres and hospitals, plus the industrial market, we have all the bases covered.”

Carrying Eurovent certification, the Rhoss line-up includes a range of high efficiency, inverter-controlled variable speed screw compressor chillers, plus Rhoss’s EXP hybrid chiller heat pump and heat recovery air conditioning system.

For more details call 020 8947 1127, or email 

Toshiba UK reports strong growth

UK: Despite challenging UK market conditions, Toshiba Air Conditioning has reported double digit increases in revenue this year. New product introductions and a series of commercial initiatives are said to be behind the increase.

The VRF products have been the company’s star performers, with sales reported to be increasing strongly year-on-year. Particularly popular has been Toshiba’s award-winning SHRM-i three-pipe heat recovery system.

Toshiba says it is now targeting growth in the splits and multi-splits sector to develop this revenue stream and help balance sales in the larger project sector.

“Since 2008, the market picture for the UK has been challenging, to say the least,” commented general manager David Dunn. “However, we have been able to sustain sales growth over a number of years, which is obviously very pleasing.”

“Innovations such Toshiba’s built-in leak detection and management system, together with commercial initiatives such as the industry’s first seven-year total-peace-of-mind warranty for qualifying installers, have helped cement relationships with existing customers and opened the door to new ones,” says David Dunn.

He singles out its refrigerant management technology in helping the company secure long-term partnerships with some of the best known end users in the UK, keen to eliminate the risk of leaks from buildings.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

New adsorbent found by mistake

SWEDEN: A novel highly adsorbent material, which could have uses within the air conditioning and refrigeration industry, has been produced by accident at a Swedish university.

The magnesium carbonate material is said to have an adsorption capacity around 50% greater at low relative humidities than the best adsorbents currently available. It also has the ability to retain more than 75% of the adsorbed water when the humidity is decreased from 95% to 5% at room temperature and can be regenerated at temperatures below 100ºC.

While ordered forms of magnesium carbonate, both with and without water in the structure, are abundant in nature, water-free disordered forms have previously proven impossible to make. That was until researchers from Uppsala University stumbled upon the synthesis process by mistake in 2011.

Called Upsalite, the new material is expected to reduce the amount of energy needed to control environmental moisture in the electronics and drug formulation industry as well as in hockey rinks and warehouses. As well as an efficient desiccant for thermal wheels, it might also have uses in adsorption cooling technology.

“In contrast to what has been claimed for more than 100 years in the scientific literature, we have found that amorphous magnesium carbonate can be made in a very simple, low-temperature process”, says Johan Goméz de la Torre, researcher at the University’s nanotechnology and functional materials division.

But the material was found by mistake. 

“We slightly changed the synthesis parameters of the earlier employed unsuccessful attempts, and by mistake left the material in the reaction chamber over the weekend. Back at work on Monday morning we discovered that a rigid gel had formed and after drying this gel we started to get excited”, says Johan Goméz de la Torre.

A year of detailed materials analysis and fine tuning of the experiment followed in which Upsalite was found to absorb more water at low relative humidities than hydroscopic zeolites – the best materials presently available – and can be regenerated with less energy consumption than is used in similar processes today.

“This, together with other unique properties of the discovered impossible material is expected to pave the way for new sustainable products in a number of industrial applications”, says Maria Strømme.

Monday, 12 August 2013

US must update refrigeration efficiency standards

USA: In a move that it is said will save an estimated $156m per month, a coalition of US States has forced the US Department of Energy to commit to updating energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, electric motors and commercial refrigeration equipment.

The coalition of 11 US States led by New York State attorney general Eric T Schneiderman have announced an agreement that commits the DOE to a timetable for updating energy efficiency standards for the four common commercial appliances after the DOE missed legal deadlines previously set by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

According to the group, strengthening the standards will result in substantial cuts in air, water and climate change pollution and save businesses and consumers across the country an estimated $156m per month and $3.8bn per year by 2035.

The agreement commits the DOE to a timetable that has all the four new standards finalised between January and May of next year with Schneiderman's coalition saying it reserves the right to take legal action if the DOE fails to meet any of those deadlines.

Initially enacted in 1975, the EPCA requires the federal agency to meet specific deadlines for reviewing and revising energy efficiency standards for more than 50 categories of common US commercial and residential products that use large amounts of energy. Standards must be set at maximum efficiency levels that are technologically feasible and economically justified. In the case of walk-in coolers and freezers and metal halide lamps, EPCA required that updated standards be in place 18 months ago, by January 1, 2012. The act further required updated standards for commercial refrigeration equipment and electric motors to be in place by January 1, 2013.

Windows with an in-built cooling system

USA: Researchers at Harvard University claim to have developed a window with its own in-built cooling system.

The new window-cooling system – or a bio-inspired microfluidic circulatory system , as they call it – is said to contain an extensive network of ultra-thin channels in the window pane, through which water can be pumped when the window is hot. The channels consist of long, narrow troughs that are moulded into a thin sheet of clear silicone rubber that, when stretched over a flat pane of glass, create sealed channels.

According to the team working on the system, the technology could also be used to cool rooftop solar panels, allowing them to generate electricity more efficiently.

Today's insulation and construction methods do a good job keeping heat from leaking through walls, but heat transfer through glass windows remains one of the major stumbling blocks to energy-efficient buildings.
The idea to cool glass windows when they get hot emerged from work on microfluidics by Don Ingber, founding director of the Wyss Institute and professor of bioengineering at Harvard SEAS. 
The channels that make up the artificial circulatory system are visible when they're empty (left), but transparent when they're filled with water (right). Windows with this system installed would remain transparent. (Photo: Wyss Institute)

Microfluidic devices circulate fluids through tiny, ultrathin channels and are typically used to build small devices for laboratory research and clinical diagnosis.

Using this knowledge, the Harvard team created and tested a 4in-square microfluidic windowpane and found that when the channels were filled with water, they were also transparent to the eye.

They then used a heat lamp to heat a microfluidic pane to 100°F — as hot as a window might get on a sunny summer day. Using a special infrared camera, they showed that the circulatory system could readily cool the pane.

A mathematical model developed to predict how the circulatory system would perform on normal-size windows, calculated that pumping just half a soft drink can's worth of water through the window's circulatory system would cool a full-size window pane by a full 8°C (14°F). Significantly, the energy needed to pump water would be far less than the heat energy the water absorbed.

“Our new window technology marries advances in microfluidics with creative thinking about adaptive architecture,” Ingber said. “We are optimistic that microfluidic windows will go a long way toward helping us cool our homes and commercial buildings more efficiently.”

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Cold store equipment to be auctioned

UK: Three second-hand ammonia compressors are being sold next week as part of an internet auction of the entire equipment contents of a cold store.

In addition to a large amount of racking, the lots include three Howden ammonia compressors and eight ammonia blast chillers.

The sale is through London auctioneers Edward Symmons (

The lots can be viewed from 09.00 to 16.00 on Monday August 12 at New Market Approach, Leeds LS9 0RP. Bidding ends at: 15:00 on Wednesday August 14.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Mitsi's Ecodan proves efficiency over gas boiler

UK: Mitsubishi Electric's Ecodan 
air source heat pump is said to have shown better efficiency than a gas condensing boiler in year-long trials.

The data collected by Mitsubishi Electric from the trials was audited and analysed by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) using the same methodology as in the EST’s recently published Phase 2 heat pump trials report. Mitsubishi's data was gathered from Ecodan systems at 23 sites around the UK, in places as far apart as North Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Northumberland and the Isle of Wight. 

As calculated by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), Ecodan demonstrated average estimated annual operating cost savings of 8% over a gas condensing boiler, 36% over an oil condensing boiler and 67% over a direct electric heating system. 

Estimated carbon emission savings of 21%, 41% and 67%, respectively, were also demonstrated and the EST report also shows that after future grid decarbonisation, these carbon savings rise to 85% over gas and 88% over oil. 

According to the results, Ecodan achieved an average seasonal performance of 2.9 when measured against the Government’s preferred boundary condition for calculating heat pump performance – known as the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPFH4)

The EU defines the renewable threshold as an average seasonal performance of 2.5, when measured against reduced boundary conditions covering the performance of the heat pump in isolation (known as SPFH2).

H4 conditions widen the monitoring by including all auxiliary power consumption and this gives a much clearer indication of overall system performance. 15 of the Ecodan sites also achieved an SPFH4 average of 2.98 across the winter of 2011-2012 – one of the coldest on record for decades, and seven of the sites achieved an average of 3.04.

“These tests measured all auxiliary power consumption as well as that of the heat pump itself so it gives a much more accurate indication of the overall performance,” explains John Kellett, general manager of Mitsubishi Electric’s Ecodan heating range.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cool revolution in refrigerated transport?

ITALY: A sorption heat pump (S-HP), based on the adsorption/desorption of a hydrogen gas stream, could provide significant savings over traditional transport refrigeration systems, a new development project has revealed. 

The refrigerated transportation world market is predicted to reach €5bn by 2015. Increasing awareness about food safety, consumer spending on high value perishable goods and replacement of refrigerated vehicles are driving the growth in refrigerated transportation market. Approximately 650,000 refrigerated road vehicles are currently in use within the EU.

Fuel prices are a significant cost for cold transport companies. It is estimated that refrigerated vans and trucks use between 10,000 and 90,000 litres of fuel/year, around 8% of this is due to refrigeration.

The EU-funded HP-ACS project aims to address this through the development of an innovative Metal Hydride Cooling System (MHCS) based on hydrogen adsorption/desorption on solid beds. The system would work by exploiting the waste heat generated by the thermal engine.

Using this technology, it is estimated that refrigerated transport companies could save between 800 (2m³ refrigerated vans) – 7.200 (90m³ Rigid Semi-Trailer) litres of fuel per year on average for each vehicle.

Some crucial technological challenges still need to be addressed. The project is looking into developing viable materials for the hydrogen adsorption beds, which must be tailored for the specific application. The heat-pump design also needs to be optimised, while the weight and volume of the material has to be minimised.

Once these key points have been achieved and validated, the HP-ACS project will be well on its way to developing a new way of competitively cooling refrigerated vans. The 24-month project, which began in April, has received €960,000 in EU funding. For more information, please visit:


Project factsheet

No risk, but Germans call for further tests

GERMANY: The German Federal Transport Authority (KBA) has recommended further tests be carried out on the R1234yf after its own risk assessments carried out by TÜV Rheinland proved inconclusive. 

Problems over the acceptance of the new low GWP refrigerant replacement for R134a continue to smoulder after the German authority failed to find reasons to classify R1234yf as unsafe but instead has called for further tests to prove its safety.

Tests on four models of car were carried out to industry standards, prompting the KBA to report “no adequate evidence of a serious threat within the meaning of the Product Safety Act.” As a result it recommended that vehicles on the market should not be taken out of service.

However, “in order to guarantee that the regarded test spectrum was not too closely selected,” the KBA decided to carry out further tests “in order to check whether with intensified test conditions cases of danger would be expected.”

Under these tests in two cases hydrogen fluoride was released and in one case the car caught fire.

The KBA has sent an interim report to the European Commission. The final report will be available in autumn this year.

Fire brigade calls for ac checks

UK: During this (hopefully) long, hot summer, fire chiefs in London have warned businesses to check their air conditioning systems are in good working order following two blazes caused by poorly maintained units.

In recent weeks, London firefighters have been called to an overheating air conditioning unit in a City office building, and 35 firefighters tackled a blaze at a shop on Central Parade in Streatham where an air conditioning unit was again to blame.

“Air conditioning units can offer welcome relief in hot weather but if they are not properly maintained they can become a fire risk – especially if they have been out of use for a while and are then suddenly switched on during a hot spell for long periods,” said Mark Andrews, London Fire Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner for fire regulation.

“You should clean or change filters regularly, as these can become clogged and lead to the system overheating. We also find that portable air conditioning units are often plugged into extension leads and electrical appliances like these, which require a lot of power, can cause plug sockets to become overloaded.”

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Insurers warn against counterfeit complacency

UK: While there have been no reported explosions or injuries involving dangerous counterfeit refrigerants in the last two years, one of the reefer industry’s leading insurance providers has warned against complacency.

During a period of about eight months in 2011 there were five documented reefer compressor explosions, in which three people were killed, and other minor incidents, such as smoking valves or flaming oil. The cause was established to be a counterfeit refrigerant, sold as R134a but containing a blend of chemicals including R40 (methyl chloride) often mixed with R22 and/or other refrigerants.

The dangerous counterfeits were thought to have originated in China where criminals took advantage of the high price of R134a. At the time R134a was selling in China at £8/kg. It has since dropped to around £2/kg today.

Despite this, TT Club, the container industry’s leading provider of insurance and related risk management services, warns that although there have been no documented explosions, counterfeit refrigerant containing methyl chloride has been found in other countries and on board ships.

According to the insurer, on a reefer container fleet of about 1.3 million units, there are in the region of five million pre-trip inspections per year and counterfeit gas is reported to have been discovered in about 5% of units tested.

Following the 2011 incidents, a number of shipping lines and container lessors, and some depots, have implemented testing regimes for reefers. Importantly, many depots have started testing refrigerant gas supplies prior to use. Testing of R134a in both reefer machinery and gas bottle supplies has revealed various contaminants, some not compatible with compressor lubricants or simply inefficient as refrigerants.

New study confirms viability of heat pumps

UK: Technical data obtained from an in-depth study of heat pumps at sites across the UK has confirmed that well-installed and operated heat pumps perform to a very high standard in domestic homes.

The new field trials study from the Energy Saving Trust builds on the phase 1 study it published in 2010 which found widely varying efficiencies across the 83 installations surveyed. These varied from COPs as low as 1.2 to as high as 3.3. The best-performing systems were those that were deemed to be properly designed and installed.

The latest study covering 44 heat pump sites, were conducted between 2010 and 2013. The variations in performance were investigated with interventions carried out to achieve improved performance from the heat pump installations. Overall 20 of the 32 heat pumps undergoing interventions between Phase 1 and this study achieved improvements in performance with the remainder achieving similar or slightly lower performance.

The majority of sites taken forward from Phase 1 were those that showed the worst measured performance. In several cases, the manufacturers, having inspected their own sites, felt that the heat pumps were incorrectly sized for the property. To rectify this, a number of heat pumps were replaced as part of Phase 2 implementing the installation standards at the time. These were classed as major interventions.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, homes best suited for heat pump installations could expect to earn savings and income of around £1,350 a year on air source heat pumps and around £3,000 a year on ground source heat pumps (figures based on a four bedroom detached property with 250mm loft insulation and filled cavity walls with electric storage heating and using the recently announced RHI tariffs).

The success of the heat pumps’ performance during the study was underpinned by the experience of the users. Eighty per cent were said to be satisfied with their heat pump’s performance, while over three quarters (77%) would recommend a heat pump to a friend, mainly because of its efficiency and running costs of the system.

“Based upon the results of the study, we are convinced that heat pumps can play a significant role in providing an effective heating solution for homes and reducing carbon emissions,” said Jaryn Bradford, the Energy Saving Trust’s senior technical manager.

“From the study, it is clear that heat pumps are sensitive to design, commissioning and how the householder uses the system. However, the performance monitoring trials have provided early indications that the introduction of improved installation standards, amongst other things, will lead to improved performance,” he added.

“The interventions carried out during the study are an early indication of the successes that robust standards can achieve. If heat pumps were installed today under the current installer guidelines, alongside further customer guidance on operating the system, they would achieve even better performances than indicated in the study.”

The latest heat pump study was supported by funding from DECC, the Energy Technologies Institute, EDF Energy, Npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), E On UK, NIE Energy, Danfoss UK, NIBE and Mitsubishi Electric.

The full report can be downloaded here

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Fan coil manufacturers to publish new report

UK: The HEVAC Association’s fan coil manufacturers’ group is to publish its own paper on the advantages of fan coil systems in response to last week’s comparison report by rival chilled beam manufacturers.

Manufacturers within Association’s Fan Coil Group Unit feels there are several other inconsistencies within the Chilled Beam and Ceiling Association’s (CBCA) Technical Fact Sheet 2 which, it says, it intends to discuss with the CBCA in the coming weeks.

Following the Cooling Post’s report on the controversial report which one manufacturer described last week as “biased”, the Fan Coil Group’s official response repeats accusations that the CBCA have failed to use identical design criteria, so creating an unfair comparison.

The CBCA announcement repeats concerns over differences in flow temperatures used for comparison. A 6ºC flow, 12ºC return temperature was used for the fan coil system and 14ºC flow, 17ºC return temperatures for active and passive chilled beams. A fair comparison would have been to use 14ºC flow and 17ºC return for all three systems, say the fan coil manufacturers.

The Fan Coil Group also complains of what it sees as an unfair comparison in the running cost calculations for the AHU supplying air temperature of 18ºC for the chilled beam systems, but 14ºC for the fan coil system.

It also says the higher pressure drops with chilled beams requires a higher specific fan power than a fan coil system. A typical specific fan power level for a fan coil at design conditions, it points out, is 0.2W/l/s, which means on average it will be 0.15W/l/s

Running cost comparisons used in the CBCA report are also disputed: “The cost of 13p/kWh is typical for domestic properties, but the average cost for medium size commercial premises is 8.6p/kWh, which significantly diminishes the difference in running cost between systems.”

The report’s use of a fixed specific fan power factor for an AHU supplying a chilled beam system is also challenged, the fan coil manufacturers saying that this would not be the case.

Finally, there is concern that the report does not take into account the option to vary fresh air and ventilation rates based on occupancy demand which is available with fan coil systems.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

PERSY points the way to rapid recovery

UK: Contractors faced with recovering refrigerant from large systems can call upon a new service being offered by refrigerant supplier A-Gas.

The Bristol-based company has manufactured a recovery unit with a rapid high capacity recovery rate. Initially designed for supermarket retrofit applications, the unit is now being offered as a service to any contractors needing to rapidly recover large amount of refrigerant from a system.

PERSY (Portable Environmental Recovery System) boasts some impressive specifications including, most importantly, a 1,500kg/hr push-pull liquid recovery rate and 140kg/hr vapour recovery rate. It uses a 100m3/hr integral vacuum pump and incorporates a 500kg receiver.

Although only recently made available, PERSY has already been successfully used to recover 2,000kg of R22 in an industrial retrofit and a further 700kg of R22 in a system decommissioning contract at an ice rink.

Look out below!

Condensing units festooned on high-rise buildings are a
 common sight in China but there may be hidden dangers
CHINA: Images, like this, of air conditioning units festooned on the outside of buildings are likely to both excite air conditioning engineers and horrify architects in the West in equal measures but in China there may be another reason to be horrified.

There have previously been incidences of air conditioning units plunging to the ground but reports in the Chinese newspaper Metropolis Daily suggest that this might become a more common danger.

A survey of air conditioning units on one residential building in Wuhan City found more than 80% with signs of serious corrosion on the condensing units' retaining brackets. Some brackets were said to be of poor quality, others not painted or showing any signs of corrosion protection and, in some cases, evidence of poor installation with insufficient anchoring points.

It is unclear whether the survey was representative of installations across the country but there is sufficient concern in Wuhan for the authorities, building owners and appliance industry associations, as well as Chinese ac manufacturers Gree, Midea and Haier, to quickly convene a meeting at the newspaper's offices to discuss the problem.

There have been calls for regulations and standards to be introduced to regulate the air conditioning accessory maufacturers producing the brackets as well as calls for the original air conditioning unit manufacturers to take more responsibility.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

CDL expands its Warrington branch

UK: Air-conditioning distributor Cool Designs Ltd (CDL) has doubled the size of its operation in Warrington by acquiring premises next to its existing site at Cranford Court.

These new premises add about 3,500ft² of space and have been completely fitted out as additional warehousing facilities and incorporate a specially designed workshop area.

“This workshop is an important innovation for CDL as it gives us the opportunity to customise products and provide bespoke solutions for heating and cooling projects,” said Darrel Birkett, managing director of the Toshiba air conditioning distributor.
A good example of this, says the company, is the Toshiba floor standing MMF-AP***1H units, which are normally associated as being part of a VRF system. They can however be customised and used in split systems, where their small footprint makes them ideal in many situations. 

 At the other end of the scale CDL can offer a VRF condensing unit flat pack service for sites where it is not possible to use a crane to lift the product so the outdoor units can be broken down by CDL to three or more manoeuvrable pallets.