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GEA's Global HVAC Technology Blog

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

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  • Manufacturing Technologies
  • Product Quality Improvement
  • Materials/Failures/Corrosion
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  • Business Strategy Development
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We'll draw upon our range of experts to provide comments, insights, technical articles and a little humor from time to time

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Proposed US Ban on HFC's in Chillers

Posted February 10, 2016 8:00 AM by geanorm
Pathfinder Tags: chillers gwp HFO refrigerants

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) agreed last week on a schedule for eliminating the use of HFCs R-134a, R-410A and R-407C in chillers of all types by the year 2025.

In a joint letter to the US EPA the two parties call for the removal of R-134a, R-410A, and R407C from the list of acceptable substitutes in all new air-cooled and water-cooled chillers using centrifugal, screw, scroll, and all other compressor types as of Jan. 1, 2025.

As part of the Clean Air Act's Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP) the US EPA is developing regulations to end the use HFCs in applications where safer alternatives are available.

The US EPA issued a first-round SNAP rule (in July 2015) which targeted some of the largest and leakiest HFC applications, including motor vehicle air conditioners, supermarket systems, aerosol propellants, and foam insulation. HFC-134a is to be banned in new motor vehicles starting in 2020 (model year 2021) and replaced by HFO-1234yf. In supermarket systems--which leak faster than any other refrigeration application--R-404A, R-507A and other harmful HFC blends will be banned in new systems between 2016 and 2020, depending on the specific application.

The latest agreement makes it more likely that manufacturers will move to refrigerants with near-zero heat-trapping potency and the highest energy efficiency, such as R-1234ze and R-1233zd, rather than adopting middle-range potency refrigerants such as R-513A and R-450A. A number of leading international chiller manufacturers including Carrier, Climaveneta, Airedale, Blue Box and Cofely have already announced R1234ze chillers and Trane and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have machines using R1233zd.

The presentations delivered at the recent sell-out AHRI-hosted conference on the Low GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (AREP) are now available online.

More than 170 leading refrigerant researchers, refrigerant producers, and manufacturers attended the conference, which was held in January, prior to the ASHRAE Winter Conference in Orlando.

For more information:

R134a faces chiller ban from 2025
It's a SNAP: EPA Cuts HFC Super-Pollutants to Curb Dangerous Climate Change
Pressure on High GWP Refrigerants
US Ruling Gives Supermarkets a Year to Switch from High-GWP Refrigerants
MHI Chooses HFO-1233zd(E) for New Centrifugal Chillers

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

3 comments; last comment on 02/11/2016
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5 Key Metrics for Engineering Departments

Posted December 02, 2015 9:00 AM by geanorm

Guest Blog by Andy Fiegener of Rye Design LLC

There are literally hundreds of metrics that business leaders can use to run their business today. Some are very valuable, some not so much. For Engineering, think of an engineer as a continually developing employee who will take years, if not decades, to become fully trained and proficient in a field of study. So the focus of metrics should not only be in performing a task on time and within budget, but also developing said engineer through training and daily challenges.

Listed below are 5 areas of metrics you should consider for your engineering department. Why 5 metrics? Why not 3, or 2, or 20? There's not a right answer here, but the metrics you measure should say something about your business and what stage your company is in. The right number of metrics is the number you LOOK AT! Companies spend gobs of money collecting numbers and data they will never see! The saying is "What's measured, get's managed", a reverse to that could be "Don't measure what you don't manage"…if it's not important to you to run your day to day department or company, then why measure it? Each business is unique, use the information below as a starting point and if you have no metrics, my advice would be to pick one, start there, and add more as needed. As long as you are continually looking at the data collected and making adjustments, you can do no wrong.

I'm also a strong believer in ever changing metrics. Your business and customers change month to month, year to year, so should what you measure from your employees. A stale metric becomes one no one looks at and wasted time spent collecting…keep them fresh! A benefit of this is if you happen to choose the wrong metric. Say you measure quality but that has a negative effect on your on time delivery, then you can change it. Changing metrics keeps employees on their toes.

The first three metrics listed below are what I call "general metrics", these are elements that you should measure but how you measure and what you measure will vary depending on your company and the role engineering plays. The last two are more specific, but I consider them fundamentally important (engineering or other).

Process Metrics

These have to do with the daily processes and what could be called "Value Added Time" that your engineers spend on task. For those not involved with "Lean" this would be any task that contributes towards the bottom line, or for an engineer, if you bill for a task then it could be considered Value Added. Remember, you don't bill for Engineering changes, Revisions, or Paperwork (outside of some reports).

Some examples of process style metrics to measure:

  • Estimation Accuracy
  • Scope Variance
  • Schedule Variance
  • Productivity (hrs worked vs. hrs billed)
  • Order processing time
  • Response time to RFQ
  • Product development Cycle time
  • Product development cost
  • On time delivery

Quality Metrics

Quality metrics are pretty easy to discern, anything that relates to the quality of the product coming out of Engineering or the quality of information going in. Remember, no matter what your operation is you are shooting for 100% First time success. Many will say "this is impossible in our industry", it may be tough to achieve but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be the goal. Engineering departments and companies become very comfortable with accepting less than perfect results. No doubt, there's often more variables in Engineering's success that clouds that "perfect" result, but we should strive for it none the less.

Some examples of quality style metrics:

  • Number of Engineering changes
  • Number of revisions (Depending on your business, revisions could be a bad thing)
  • First pass yield
  • Six Sigma for Engineering
  • Customer satisfaction (Engineering's customer, not end user)
  • Supplier defect rate (often the supplier is whoever is supplying specs and info to Engineering)

Technical Metrics

This is a big one that is often ignored. Computers and software are just as critical to Engineering as a CNC machine is to your production capability. I've seen companies that invest heavily in IT and those that do not, when it comes to Engineering those that don't, suffer. Think of Engineering as another equipment operator on your production floor (albeit a highly paid one) and any minute that he or she has to wait for a computer to load, an analysis to run, or a model to refresh is costing the company money. Hold your IT to the same level as your Industrial Maintenance person and use metrics to determine if computer downtime is costing you money or causing a bottleneck.

Some examples of IT Metrics:

  • Computer/Software Uptime
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • % of files managed by a PDM software

People Metrics

As you make these investments in process, quality, and technical improvements you need to keep your Engineers/Designers engaged and employed at YOUR company. Turnover rate and Absenteeism will tell you all you need to know. Frequently absent or sick employees, typically do not enjoy his/her job and that employee leaving in the next few months is a high possibility. What's worse is those that don't leave, but instead become a cancer upon your organization, until you take action.

Watch turnover rate as well, a lot of dollars in training and knowledge is lost when an engineer decides to go elsewhere. The cost to replace a technical employee such as an engineer could be as much as 1.5 times their annual salary2…Ouch!

Skills Matrix

On the other side of the spectrum, a happy Engineer without training and development has equally negative effects. A field like engineering revolves around technical software and scientific information, there are always new things to learn. Look into developing a skills matrix and training budget, as well as training days that engineers use to sharpen their skills. If you haven't seen a skills matrix, google will help, just list every skill you could possibly like that engineer to have and then make the chart public. Hidden charts offers no challenge, and employees often have an area they think they are skilled in, when you feel differently. If you do a skills chart and find that your employees are highly qualified in each skill…then you probably don't have the right skills listed.

I hope you this information helps you and your organization become engaged with metrics, it's a great place to go when you have a problem that you're not sure how to solve. Typically, when you measure that problem area, it magically starts to fix itself!

(918) 212-4954 or email Andy Fiegener, af@ryeok.com.

Sources:

1) "A few words about Metrics" by John Stark; http://www.johnstark.com/wmet.html

2) "Cost of Employee Turnover"; http://www.isquare.com/turnover.cfm

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

1 comments; last comment on 12/03/2015
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September 2015 U.S. Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data

Posted November 18, 2015 1:00 AM by geanorm
Pathfinder Tags: hvac industry HVAC Supply Chain

AHRI released September shipment data for small Central Air Conditioners and Air-Source Heat Pumps up to 650 MBTUH.

U.S. shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps totaled 488,464 units in September 2015, down 9.5 % from 539,628 units shipped in September 2014. U.S. shipments of air conditioners decreased 3.5 % to 335,867 units, down from 348,143 in September 2014. Shipments of air-source heat pumps decreased 20.3 % to 152,597 units, down from 191,485 shipped in September 2014.

***

Year-to-date combined shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps increased 1.8 %, to 5,700,792 units, up from 5,599,693 units shipped in September 2014. Year-to-date shipments of central air conditioners increased 3.0 % to 3,824,980 units, up from 3,713,244 during the same period in 2014. The year-to-date total for heat pump shipments decreased 0.6 percent to 1,875,812 units, down from 1,886,449 units shipped during the same period in 2014.

***

The most popular size is the nominal 3 ton size with 1,145,568 shipped through September of this year. Second most popular size is the nominal 2 ton size with 1,057,287 through September 2015.

Highest growth rates were in the two smallest size ranges with units under 16.5 MBTUH showing an 18% increase over YTD shipments in 2014. In the size range 16.5 to 21.9 MBTUH 34% more units shipped through September of this year versus the same period in 2015.

For additional shipment data please visit AHRI September 2015 U.S. Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data

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

1 comments; last comment on 11/18/2015
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See The Future of Smart Office Buildings, Today -The Edge

Posted October 28, 2015 9:39 PM by larhere

What is a Smart Building?

According to Siemens "Smart buildings improve the productivity of people and processes by leveraging technology & actionable information to help you & your building make better decisions and become smart, efficient and sustainable".

Not a perfect answer but with the building industry going through an evolution toward Smart Buildings it seems appropriate to pause and evaluate this change to see how it affects our companies and our plans in the HVAC Industry. We'll take a look at arguably the most advanced Smart Building in the world, the Edge, located in Amsterdam.

What is the Edge?

The Magazine Fast Company describes the Edge...
"When you pull up for work at Deloitte's new office building in Amsterdam, the garage automatically recognizes your car or bike, opens the gate, and guides you to a parking spot and a free electric charger. The office app assigns you a desk, based on your schedule for the day and whether you're in the mood for a standing desk or a place to concentrate. Once you start work, you can use the app to tweak the lighting or heat until it's just right. Welcome to the Edge, the most connected office anywhere.
The building's massive network of sensors-around 40,000-is unprecedented.....every light in the building hooked up to Ethernet cables that also deliver Wi-Fi. "Every light has its own IP address". View the Fast Company article and slide show here.
Solar panels on the roof and south wall provide all the electricity to power the building, laptops and smart phones and recharge occupant's electric cars.

Heat and cooling are provided with the help of a natural aquifer with two 400 foot boreholes being used to pump warm water in during summer periods for extraction during winter heating season with the opposite occurring during winter with cooling being stored in the aquifer.

The Edge lays claim to the title of most well connected office building in the world with a unique design of LED panels powered by low voltage ethernet cables. Every light panel contains sensors that measure temperature, light, movement and infrared effectively becoming its own internet connected data hub making the building and its occupants smarter.

Watch the video about the Edge created by Bloomberg Business News that does a nice job demonstrating the technologies and leading edge features incorporated in the Edge.

As you look into your future you may want to also view some of these recent blog posts.

Buildings, Energy and New Technologies: Trends & Outlook

Top HVAC Trends for 2015

Prefab Skyscrapers Reach for the Heavens Reshaping HVAC

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

3 comments; last comment on 10/31/2015
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Buildings, Energy and New Technologies:Trends & Outlook

Posted October 07, 2015 7:41 PM by larhere

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House Office of Science and Technology released the second Quadrennial Technology Review. The 489 page report contains a wealth of numbers about energy use and the technologies that can affect the future of energy efficiency in the US economy. Of particular interest to our readers are the following:

Chapter 5 - Increasing Efficiency of Buildings Systems and Technologies showing US building energy use in 2014. The building sector's share of electricity use has grown dramatically 25% of U.S. annual electricity consumption in the 1950s to 40% in the early 1970s to more than 76% by 2012.

The major areas of energy consumption in buildings are heating, ventilation, and air conditioning-35% of total building energy; lighting-11%; major appliances (water heating, refrigerators and freezers, dryers)-18% with the remaining 36% in miscellaneous areas including electronics.

Key research opportunities include the following:

  • High-efficiency heat pumps that reduce or eliminate the use of refrigerants
  • Improved software for optimizing building design and operation
  • Low cost, easy to install, energy harvesting sensors and controls
  • Interoperable building communication systems and optimized control strategies
  • Decision science issues affecting purchasing and operating choices

Noteworthy is Section 5.6 Systems-Level Opportunities sees opportunities such as small buildings (<10,000 ft2) which use some kind of "energy management control" system less than 7% of the time. "Buildings as a whole will perform most efficiently if all the building systems are controlled as a part of an integrated system. Well-designed control systems can increase building efficiency up to 30% without the need to upgrade existing appliances".

Integrated building and grid systems should be able to do the following:

  • Control room temperatures, humidity, ventilation rates, tunable windows, variable louvers, and dimmable lights
  • Control major appliances - most devices are controlled by turning them off or on, but the new generation of appliances allows more sophisticated adjustment of operation
  • Use weather forecasts to develop optimum strategies for preheating or cooling the structure
  • Detect and identify component failures and look for signs that equipment is about to fail
  • Adapt performance in response to communications from utilities using new rate structures to minimize overall system costs
  • Learn and anticipate user behaviors including adjusting for holidays and integrate user preferences dynamically.

Section 5.8 Conclusions to the buildings section.

Chapter 1 - Energy Challenges where U.S. uses and sources are depicted in detail.

And finally, Chapter 11 Summary and Conclusions which presents four trends in energy technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D):

  1. Energy systems convergence - Virtually all sectors of the energy system are becoming more interdependent. Information and communications technologies, advanced sensors and controls, and market phenomena are enabling the proliferation of advanced technologies that overlap the power generation, electricity transmission and distribution, buildings, manufacturing, fuels, and transportation sectors
  2. Diversification within the energy sectors - the increased diversification of energy resources, carriers, and uses
  3. Energy efficiency everywhere - opportunities to advance cost-effective efficiency technologies abound throughout all energy sectors and systems
  4. Confluence of computational and empirical capabilities - includes scientific theory, modeling, simulation, high performance computing, data management and analysis, algorithms, software, and high-throughput experimental techniques to enable the prediction, design, engineering, and experimental characterization of materials and systems from the atomic through the nano-, meso-, and macroscale to manufacturing

download the complete report or view other Sections, click Quadrennial Technology Review.

You may also be interested in the following posts.

Technology Roadmap for Energy Efficient Buildings

Green Buildings and Energy Efficiency

Beware the Shift - Energy Efficiency IS Important!

Top HVAC Trends for 2015

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

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Refrigerant Wars Heating Up

Posted September 16, 2015 1:00 AM by larhere

The race is on to replace high GWP refrigerants by low and medium GWP alternates.

Pressure on High GWP Refrigerants

There is growing pressure to limit and phase-out high GWP refrigerants in some countries as well as globally with talk of including HFCs within a phase-down plan under the highly successful Montreal Protocol.

High GWP commercial refrigeration refrigerants R404A and R507 with GWPs of around 3300 are being phased out in both Europe and the US over the next few years. The emergence of low/medium GWP alternatives is putting pressure to move to these new refrigerants. Even R134a with a GWP of 1430 is being replaced in European vehicle air conditioning systems by R1234yf (GWP of 4). R410A with a GWP of 2088 continues on, but for how long?

R-410A Concerns

Refrigerant manufacturers and HVAC OEMs have concluded that R410A will not survive.

R410A use began in the mid 1990's in Europe. It has grown in popularity globally in products from mini-splits to large screw chillers and most equipment in between. It is not used in centrifugal chillers. R410A is the dominant refrigerant in air conditioning systems today.

Replacing it in some, or all, of its applications is the target for today's HVAC industry.

Industry Taking Action

Refrigerant manufacturers, Chemours, Daikin, Honeywell, Arkema, Mexichem and others have come out with their own (proprietary) designs of alternatives to replace R410A. A second look is also being given to some previously discarded alternatives such as R-32 which was rejected as a replacement for R-22 in the 1990's due to non-compliance with flammability regulations in effect at the time. R-32 was eventually combined with (non-flammable) R-125 in a 50/50 mixture that was named R-410A and has well served the industry for two decades.

Since the introduction of R410A a new safety classification of "mild" flammability, A2L,has been developed which allows them to be treated with different regulations. Most of the currently proposed alternatives are A2L, including R32. This new classification has allowed the introduction of R32 and other mildly flammable blends in small charge applications such as window air conditioners and mini-splits.

Battle Lines Being Drawn

The competitive lines are being drawn with one camp promoting R32 as the preferred alternative. Daikin, a manufacturer of R32 as well as an OEM, promotes, manufactures and sells R32 units leading the way with most Japanese OEMs also manufacturing and promoting R-32 units. Daikin offers R32 units in Europe as well as a number of developing countries. In an effort to gain new R-32 supporters Daikin recently offered free access to 93 separate patents pertaining to the use or application of R32 to companies worldwide. Further efforts by Daikin include providing technical assistance and training to emerging economies such as Thailand to adopt R32 for their markets with funding from the Montreal Protocol.

The other camp is led by Chemours (formerly DuPont) promoting DR55, a blend of 67% R32, 7% R125 and 26% R1234yf, which it will market as Opteon XL55. Trane partnered with Chemours in recently displaying an air cooled chiller in Japan using DR55 and said they were also investigating its use in unitary and residential equipment. Chemours goes further, describing DR55 as being suitable for residential, light commercial and commercial window units, portables, mini-splits, ducted splits, PTACs, commercial packaged, multi-splits and DX chillers.

"With a GWP of only 676 DR55 is said to be the most optimized low GWP replacement for R410A, achieving a 5% energy efficiency improvement. It is also said to offer excellent performance in high ambient conditions and has a low temperature glide of just -1K." "XL55 (DR55) delivers improved energy efficiency, 67% GWP reduction as compared to R410A, ultra-low flammability properties, excellent performance at high ambient temperatures, and easy conversion from existing R410A designs due to very close physical properties,".

Although DR55 has the same A2L "mildly flammable" classification as R32, Chemours maintains that some global OEMs have indicated that the lower flammability properties of XL55 are compelling and are likely to be an important consideration in product selection, especially for larger charge size equipment.

Refrigerant Blends

Other refrigerant manufacturers including Honeywell, Arkema and Asahi Glass are touting the advantages oftheir unique formulations, which in some cases, contain new HFO molecules. Each component and composition is carefully optimized to create advantage in a (range of) applications. Quantifying (or monetizing) the differences and advantages/disadvantages compared to other alternatives in each application will challenge building owners, manufacturers, lawyers and the service industry for years. (Follow the links below for more details on this complex issue).

Mildly Flammable Refrigerant Use

Clearly there is, and will continue to be, a major movement into the use of mildly flammable A2L refrigerants in our industry. Revisions in safety standards that are currently being implemented are expected to allow charges of up to 60 kg.

Refrigerant Blending and Optimizing

It is unclear at this time how many winners and losers there will be, or how many different replacements there will be to R410A. What will the industry do with this newfound ability "to tradeoff some efficiency for a little less high ambient performance and a little flammability increase"? How will we value a GWP reduction from 300 to 100?

We can continue to wonder just how far we may go with the technology of customized blending of refrigerants. Anyone in the HVACR industry will need to consider this a core technology for their business.


Read more now from one of the UK's leading information sources, oCooling Post.

Is DR-55 Best Option to Replace R410A?

Daikin Gives Free Access to R32 Patents

Daikin Leads Thailand's Switch to R32

What Future for R410A?

Trane Debuts R410A Replacement

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

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