CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®

GEA's Global HVAC Technology Blog

GEA's Global HVAC Technology Blog covers a range of topics including:

  • Core HVAC Technologies
  • Technology & Patent Evaluation
  • Manufacturing Technologies
  • Product Quality Improvement
  • Materials/Failures/Corrosion
  • Product/Technology Commercialization
  • Business Strategy Development
  • New Factory Design & Equipment

We'll draw upon our range of experts to provide comments, insights, technical articles and a little humor from time to time

We encourage your participation and feedback!

The Future of Green Collar HVAC Work

Posted March 18, 2015 9:46 AM by larhere

Greening" is occurring throughout every industry, and the HVAC industry is one that is particularly primed for growth. Green collar jobs are becoming standard in every industry, as the culture as a whole is moving towards becoming more environmentally conscious. As noted by WeldingSchool.com, the demand for energy is rising all the time, and Obama's investment in weatherization in 2009 has lead to an influx in jobs in this realm.

The Need for Green Living

A vast amount of resources have been allocated towards green living and energy reduction. Companies and individuals alike are being offered subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives to switch over to greener HVAC systems. Moreover, cost-conscious businesses and homeowners are more interested in green solutions simply because they now understand that it can save them money over time, as well as save the environment.

To compensate for this greener focus, HVAC companies have begun hiring technicians who are well versed in green technology. And, as a consequence, employees who are "green collar" technicians within HVAC are the most sought after. Green collar jobs will undoubtedly continue to increase as the demand increases-and, as Green Living mentions, a good deal of construction retrofitting will also bolster the industry.

The Mechanics of a Green Collar Job

Green collar HVAC companies simply focus on energy-efficient building, which is something that HVAC technicians already have training on. The core technology is no different; all that changes is that the emphasis is on reducing overall energy output. HVAC systems are not only common energy wasters, but they are among the systems that have been traditionally most wasteful of energy. Finding ways to reduce energy use is a matter of simply knowing the technology available.

Smart Technology and Sustainable Energy Sources

Smart technology is very likely to play a large role in the green collar industries. Today, smart thermostats are being used to regulate HVAC systems to provide both comfort and energy savings, but they usually need to be added as a modification to an existing HVAC system. In the future, smart technology may be even better integrated into the system, so that it can anticipate the user's needs and adjust in increasingly complex ways.

HVAC development companies are also looking towards alternative methods of heating and cooling, such as ice-powered air conditioners and solar heating solutions. In the future, ThomasNet.com notes, green collar HVAC workers will need to be knowledgeable about the installation and maintenance on extremely varied technology.

Breaking Into the Green Collar Industry

Blue collar workers may want to transition into the green collar industry as a way of "future-proofing" their hireability; those who have experience within the green collar industry will find themselves far more sought after in the job market. HVAC may be the easiest way to break into the green collar industry, if only because it requires very little by way of additional training. Those who are already skilled in HVAC systems will find that "greening" their knowledge simply requires that they become familiar with the latest technology. Many companies today that offer apprenticeships and training are green themselves, thus allowing an HVAC worker to learn more about this interesting and fascinating subset of HVAC technology.

You might also be interested in...

Beware the Shift - Energy Efficiency IS Important!

10 Predictions for US High Performance Building in 2014

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank GEA Consulting's guest blogger, Monica Gomez, for contributing this blog entry, originally appearing at http://www.gea-consulting.com/hvac-blog

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EPA Approves New Low-GWP Refrigerants

Posted March 11, 2015 1:00 AM by larhere

On March 3, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication Federal Register notice adopting new low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants under the Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) program. The final rule adopts the following refrigerants, subject to use conditions:

  • R-32 in room air conditioning units.
  • Isobutane in retail food refrigeration (e.g., stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) and in vending machines;
  • Propane in household refrigerators, freezers, combination refrigerators and freezers, vending machines, and room air conditioning units;
  • R-441A in retail food refrigeration (e.g., stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), vending machines and room air conditioning units; and
  • Ethane in very low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;

According to the EPA's definition, room air conditioning units include packaged terminal air conditioners and heat pumps, window air conditioners, and portable air conditioners designed for use in a single room.

Specifically excluded from the definition are central air conditioners, and mini-split and multi-split air conditioners and heat pumps.

Finally, with the exception of R-32, the EPA is exempting all the above listed refrigerants from the non-venting provision of the Clean Air Act.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Larry Butz, President, GEA Consulting Associate, for contributing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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Corrosion Analysis: Identifying Alternatives

Posted March 04, 2015 11:16 AM by larhere

It's been awhile since the last post in this series, but it's time to get on to the fourth step in our corrosion analysis process:

1. Identify the corrosion mechanism.

2. Understand the environment, both external and internal.

3. Understand the equipment - materials of construction, operating cycles, hours.....

4. Identify alternatives

5. Implement change.

6. Monitor results.


Identify Alternatives - materials, coatings, limiting operating envelope, changing the environment (water treatment, alternative lubricants/refrigerants, filter the air), redesign the machine (better drainage, eliminate contact of dissimilar metals, .....)

Once we have identified the corrosion mechanism and developed an understanding of the environment and equipment, it's time to do something to eliminate, or at least, mitigate the corrosion problem.

Costs

The vast majority of the time, in my experience, people focus on finding alternative materials or adding coatings when addressing corrosion issues. Often, perhaps even most of the time, this is exactly the right approach. However, a step that is often missed in changing materials is taking the time to fully understand the tradeoffs between the 'new' material (or coating) and the 'old' one.

Folks tend to focus on material cost but too often the cost analysis is limited to the price per pound differences amongst the alternative materials and other differences -

  • manufacturability,
  • availability,
  • corrosion in other environments,
  • mechanical properties,
  • appearance,
  • customer perception…

are neglected, or not fully appreciated.

Thus, the advice here is that, when considering alternative materials, look at the alternatives holistically, not only focused on raw material cost and corrosion in a specific environment.

Operating Envelope

Changing materials, or adding coatings, are not the only ways available to us to eliminate or mitigate corrosion. Limiting the operating envelope for a machine, changing (or controlling) the operating environment or, heaven forbid, redesigning a machine can be the effective ways to address corrosion.

As an example, consider a 'non-condensing' gas heat application, where in rare instances condensation does occur. Imagine the condensate that forms is corrosive and can lead to failure of the heat exchanger. One alternative would be to change to a heat exchanger material that would resist corrosion caused by the condensate. However, that solution would burden all of the units that do not operate under condensing conditions with the cost of a (presumably) more expensive material that may well be more difficult to obtain and to manufacture. It may well be, in this instance, better to consider altering the operating envelope or changing the heat exchanger design to assure condensing does not ever occur. Another alternative could be to offer a separate 'premium product' with a more corrosion resistant heat exchanger material to those who are willing to pay for it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when considering alternatives to help you address corrosion problems don't limit yourself to thinking only of changing materials; think of what you can do to change the conditions that may be causing the corrosion

Enjoy joy reading PJ'S previous blogs on corrosion analysis:

Six Steps to Solving Your Corrosion Problem

Corrosion Analysis: Understanding the Equipment

Corrosion Diagnosis: Understanding the Environment

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank PJ Sikorsky, GEA Consulting Associate, for contributing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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50%+ Increase of US Shipments of AC & ASHP in December

Posted February 25, 2015 8:21 AM by larhere

U.S. shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps totaled 461,835 units in December 2014, up 50.9 percent from December 2013. U.S. shipments of air conditioners increased 49.3 percent, to 278,369 units, from the previous December; shipments of air-source heat pumps increased 53.3 percent.

Year-to-date combined shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps increased 11.1 percent, to 6,853,650 units, up from 6,169,700 units shipped in December 2013. shipments of central air conditioners increased 7.1 percent,while heat pump shipments increased 19.6 percent, compared to the same period in 2013.

The dramatic increase can be attributed to the new DOE standard which went into effect 1/1/2015 mandating increases in both cooling and heating efficiencies. Other contributing factors include year end incentives which can vary significantly year to year and improved heat pump performance in low ambient temperatures of North America.

Read the full Release from AHRI

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Larry Butz, President, GEA Consulting Associate, for contributing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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New Refrigerant Blend 513a Applied In Commercial Chiller

Posted February 18, 2015 1:00 AM by larhere

About the author Dennis Beekman:

38 years with Trane as centrifugal and screw consultant, large chiller technology and product development, lead hermetic motor design engineer and design of electrical and mechanical for centrifugal and screw type compressors

On January 26, 2015, Trane Commercial Air-Conditioning announced it will offer the new Sintesis air-cooled chiller which will use R513a as a refrigerant.

R513a

R513a is a new product for DuPont who is marketing the azeotropic blend of HFC-134a (44%) and HFO-1234yf (56%) as Opteon® XP10. According to DuPont XP10 is classified as an A1 refrigerant meaning it has low toxicity at air concentrations lower than 400 ppm and does not show flame propagation in air at room conditions. This is the same rating as R134a and R-410a.

GWP Reduction

The GWP for R513a is stated by DuPont to be 631 which is down from 1300 for pure R134a, reducing it roughly by the fraction of pure R134a. The dilution of the R134a has reduced the flammability from the mildly flammable A2L rating of HFO-1234yf. It has also increased the GWP rating from HFO-1234yf which is 4.

The other problem with HFO-1234yf is it appears to have an inherent cycle disadvantage of about 5% with say R-410a.

FlammabilityIt looks like the A2L's are having trouble gaining acceptance due to the risks involved with their flammability and cooler heads are proposing a compromise GWP of around 600 or so with no flammability.

Note

This strategy is consistent with the recent announcement by Trane that their centrifugal chillers will be available using low GWP, A1 safety, high efficiency R-1233zd for their line of centrifugal chillers.

See Trane Introduces HFO 1233zd in Series E Centrifugal Chillers

Related Topics:

U.S. EPA Moves to Phase-out Familiar HFCs

Refrigerants Update: Clarity or Confusion?

Recent Developments In Refrigerants For Air-Conditioning And Refrigeration Systems

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Dennis Beekman , GEA Consulting Associate, for contributing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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Manufactuers Optimistic- But Skilled Workers....?

Posted January 14, 2015 4:21 PM by larhere

North American manufacturers are optimistic according to a recent survey of nearly 500 manufacturers by ThomasNet. For the third consecutive year business is trending upwards. The traditionally conservative manufacturing industry is embracing new technologies and strategies, however some concerns are emerging.


Manufacturers See Growth

Manufacturers reported business growth in 2013 with 63% of respondents experiencing further increases in 2014. Manufacturers continue to expand aggressively in core markets, and are investing in capital equipment, production capacity, optimizing manufacturing operations and upgrading facilities. Many view domestic re-shoring as an important growth opportunity. And increasingly, manufacturers are looking globally for business growth with 76% of reporting companies citing some form of overseas business as part of their growth strategy.

Manufacturing Evolution

Manufacturers are embracing new technologies. Interestingly, manufacturers' websites were cited by 56% of respondents as the top tactic to secure new business.

Five key areas were cited as having significant impact on their plans.

  • Sustainable and Green Technologies
  • Advanced Materials
  • Design and Manufacturing Software
  • Automation and Robotics
  • Recycling and Re-manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing was notably further down the list.


The Elephant in the Room

Manufacturing is dominated by Baby Boomers with over 80% of survey respondents over 45 and half of those over 55. As manufacturing moves into the digital/internet age new skills are required however the Milleniums are showing little interest in what is being perceived as a "blue collar" manufacturing industry.

"At a time when the American manufacturing sector is poised for a comeback, the talent shortage is the elephant in the room that could impede progress. It will take a conceerted effort (to) bring in people who are critical to industry's continued success."

- Marc Holst-Knutson - President, ThomasNet

Read the full Report at Thomasnet Survey Shows Business Trending Up for Manufacturers

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Larry Butz, President, GEA Consulting Associate, for contributing this blog entry, which originally appeared here.

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