The need for advanced technologies is increasing
LAS VEGAS — As U.S. homes and buildings get tighter, the need for ventilation and IAQ products is only increasing. Manufacturers were on hand to showcase their new products in these categories to more than 60,000 attendees at the 2017 AHR Expo in Las Vegas.
The ventilation market, much like the rest of the HVACR industry, is being driven by the need for more energy-efficient products.
“The trends that we are seeing in the ventilation market all revolve around providing efficient and precise airflow within spaces,” said Andy Olson, director of marketing, DuctSox Corp. “As consumers are looking to reduce their power requirements to minimize operational costs, the need for efficient and precise airflow dispersion is becoming more important throughout the design and implementation of products within the space.”
DuctSox displayed its new DataSox product at the AHR Expo. DataSox is a textile system designed to be an overhead installation along the length of the cold aisles within data centers. The product uses a special combination of materials to properly disperse airflow uniformly along the entire length of the cold aisles. This ensures that all the equipment within the aisle will receive proper cooling loads. The ability to adjust the factory-installed nozzles in the field allows for data center managers to direct airflow toward higher kilowatt equipment as customers or owners upgrade components.
“The DataSox product is a great fit for the trends of efficient and precise airflow within spaces,” Olson said. “It’s able to do just that, disperse the airflow into the data center cold aisles without mixing hot and cold air within a space that you would see with traditional solutions.”
According to Gordon McCarthy, vice president of sales & marketing, Spinnaker Industries Inc., more and more locations and designs are including energy recovery into the fresh-air ventilation loads.
“This produces significant reduction in the mechanical cooling and heating equipment sizes, saving energy and providing improved IAQ from the energy recovery wheel,” he said. “With the addition of some form of cooling and heating into the same unit, the result is a single package unit that would do the same function as multiple pieces of equipment. In cases where LEED design is required, this system becomes part of the package.
“Additionally, the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) market is growing, and these systems have no provision to provide fresh air into the building for ventilation, so every one of those projects needs a system like ours.”
Spinnaker Industries Inc. featured its RERVHC Packaged Energy Recovery Ventilator with Integrated Cooling and Heating at the AHR Expo. The product features 1,000-13,000 cfm; modulating DX cooling; electric, steam, hot water, or modulating indirect-fired natural gas heating options; a rotary enthalpy wheel with 4A molecular sieve desiccant and purge sector; and quiet, scroll-type compressors mounted in an isolated compartment.
In addition to the need to bring in outside air to meet fresh-air requirements, there is also the trend of reducing outside air intake in order to reduce energy costs in a building, noted Larry Sunshine, president, Plasma Air Intl. Inc.
“Reducing outside air intake is gaining momentum,” he said. “Our PlasmaSoft software calculates and compares contaminant levels in both ASHRAE’s ventilation rate and indoor air quality procedures. This capability is part and parcel to reducing outside air intake requirements supporting the growth of this trend.”
Plasma Air featured the recently released updated 2.5 version of PlasmaSoft at the AHR Expo. The new version has several new features, which were previously unavailable, including: a ‘download all’ button, which combines all zones into one PDF to help facilitate easier sharing of calculations; a filter to limit the number of projects viewed per page; a ‘check’ button for international users to better understand their needs and use the software more effectively; the ability to download user information onto an Excel spreadsheet; the ability to duplicate zones; and the ability to change or rename the zone to be consistent with the current naming scheme of the project.
In addition to more efficient products, consumers want more sophisticated ‘smart’ features, added Mike Coyazo, product manager, air control solutions, Ruskin.
“The main trend leans towards more sophisticated product features or ‘smart’ technology integration that provides increased energy efficiency, manageability, IAQ, and maintainability,” he said.
Ruskin’s Automatic Balancing Damper (ABD) is designed to automatically adjust the desired airflow rate in both supply and exhaust applications. The calibrated blade will auto-adjust as pressures change to maintain the set volume of air desired. The ABD also has a microbial agent that prohibits the growth of mold and bacteria to provide better IAQ. As a result, the dampers lend themselves to restroom and health care applications, along with hospitality, commercial/retail, clean room and office building installations, and can be installed in horizontal or vertical applications.
“The ABD is able to maintain a set airflow rate wherever it’s applied without the need for electricity,” Coyazo said. “It’s easy to maintain, and it provides good indoor air quality through its anti-microbial agent. The ABD would be an example of low-tech at its best.”
CODES AND STANDARDS
Ventilation trends continue to support needs for energy-efficient means for delivering fresh air, noted Richard Taft, senior vice president of sales and strategy, Airxchange Inc.
“Recent updates to ASHRAE Standard 90.1 emphasize improvements in system efficiency for which energy recovery wheels are necessary to achieve. Integration of energy recovery wheels into custom air-handling units continues,” Taft said. “The expansion of our 3-inch-deep product up to 118 inches in diameter is, in part, a response to that demand. Our product expansion provides wider range of product performance options for OEMs while doing so in the most compact design.”
Airxchange released a a new size of modular designed wheels, completing its portfolio and making it a one-stop shop for manufacturers, now that it can fit any ERV system. The products feature non-corroding polymer transfer media, permanently lubricated outboard bearings, a G-90 galvanized box frame, and a permanent magnet AC motor.
“What we’re seeing is the expansion of the code a few years ago is really starting to gain traction now as more states are getting serious about adopting updated 90.1 standards,” Taft said. “So, there are more people in that semi-custom, custom market, and we’re making sure we have a full line of products that are differentiated, price sensitive, etc. to meet those needs.”
As buildings become tighter to reduce energy waste, they result in less fresh-air exchange and compromised IAQ, explained Dave Blanchard, marketing manager, Ventacity Systems.
“Regulatory standards are being raised,” Blanchard said. “For example, in the state of Washington, starting this July, new commercial buildings will be required to separate heating and cooling from air conditioning. There is an increased concern over carbon emissions and energy use and an increasing awareness of indoor quality issues. ‘Sick building syndrome’ is becoming better understood. Contributing factors are poor indoor air quality, mold resulting from high humidity, and VOCs from cleaning products and other chemicals (such as nail polish in salons) used in buildings, which make people sick. There is also increasing awareness of the link between good indoor air quality and productivity in offices and learning in schools.”
Ventacity’s new VS3000 RT heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system provides a higher-capacity 3,000-cfm maximum flow rate to fulfill IAQ requirements in commercial buildings of up to 40,000 square feet. The product features pre- and post-heater elements, which allow for operation in colder conditions without compromising the unit’s heat exchanger core and a counter-flow aluminum heat exchanger that provides up to 93 percent heat recovery.
“Ventacity’s family of HRVs, Smart Building Gateway, and Smart Building Cloud Services together combine dramatic reduction in HVAC energy use while delivering exceptional air quality, regardless of building conditions, and address increasing concerns from building occupants, building owners, regulatory bodies, and utilities about IAQ, energy use, and carbon emissions,” Blanchard said.
THE IAQ ELEMENT
The IAQ marketing is also on rise. According to a report from BCC Research, the U.S. IAQ market is forecast to grow to $10.8 billion by 2021 and is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3 percent.
Aprilaire featured its new Ventilating Dehumidifier at the AHR Expo. The product meets ASHRAE standards for ventilation and utilizes the HVAC fan and home’s a/c unit to dehumidify and distribute ventilated air.
“What makes this product great for the coastal market is it can also engage its built-in dehumidifier if a/c run times are not sufficient to dehumidify the air,” said Chris Chase, product manager, air cleaners, ventilation for Aprilaire. “Because the 8191 can remove moisture from the air before it is introduced to the living space, it’s a more cost-efficient way to handle humidity than relying on a stand-alone dehumidifier to do the job later. While ERVs are a good choice in some markets, they physically can’t handle the high latent cooling load of coastal shoulder seasons. The problem in warm, humid climates is that fresh air prescribed to handle the problem is the largest contributor to excess humidity. In the shoulder seasons, the 8191 will sense there’s a need for dehumidification, turn on its little compressor, and dehumidify just the air coming into the house, so you’re not introducing humid air into a very tight structure to prevent mold problems and those things that can arise.”
Fresh-Aire UV also displayed a new IAQ product at the AHR Expo. The airSMART™ IAQ system is a proactive, integrated IAQ monitoring, controlling, and purification system for residential applications. The three-component air-management system includes the Foobot IAQ monitor; a Wi-Fi, smart thermostat; and a whole-house air-purification system with on-demand residential HVAC cycling and air cleaning. “It is a combination of contractor and consumer awareness as poor IAQ brought on by insulating homes and buildings while bringing in limited fresh outside air has become a very big issue,” said Aaron Engel, vice president of business development, Fresh-Aire UV. “New sensors and Wi-Fi-enabled systems allow us to effectively treat the air using new purification technology to automatically address issues in real time.
“The Foobot’s air monitor senses particulates, such as those created during household vacuuming, or VOCs, such as bleach, when washing clothes,” he continued. “The air monitor wirelessly sends communication to the thermostat. The thermostat activates the air handler's fan to turn over all of the home's air through the air handlers to rid it of particulates and VOCs. Incidentally, the air monitor doesn't sense biological contaminants, such as airborne cold or flu viruses, bacteria, or allergens, but they do become disinfected by the UV portion of the APCO as part of the process when particulates or VOCs are sensed and removed. Additionally, biological contaminants can't exist inside the air handler or the evaporator coil because the UV lamp portion of the APCO disinfects it. With the help of airSMART IAQ, homeowners feel confident in knowing their own HVAC system will automatically address particular IAQ issues and take the homeowners’ health as the number one priority.”
Doug Gildehaus, director of product development, Nu-Calgon, said more products have become available recently to treat the air in the whole home, not just the HVAC system.
“Older technologies, like UV lights, treat the air passively and do not treat odors and airborne particulate,” Gildehaus said. “PCO technologies leave undesirable byproducts, including ozone. Both approaches are expensive over the life of the equipment because of ongoing replacement parts.”
Nu-Calgon has entered into an exclusive distributor partnership with Global Plasma Solution (GPS), offering a complete lineup of products with the most advanced and effective ionization air purifiers.
Nu-Calgon’s iVortex is a the low-maintenance air purifier that actively treats the air as it passes through a home’s HVAC system without creating ozone or other harmful byproducts. The iVortex is a bi-polar, high-output ion generator designed specifically for treating air in residential duct systems up to 6 ton in size. As the air flows past the iVortex, positive and negative ions actively purify the air, killing mold, bacteria, and viruses in the coil and living space. The ionization process also reduces allergens, smoke, and static electricity as well as controls odors (cooking, pet, VOCs) and other particles in the air.
“Needle-point bi-polar ionization treatments provide the safest and most thorough purification of the air, not only in the ventilation system, but throughout the entire home,” Gildehaus said.