Choosing green alternatives

Paul Boughton

How the HVAC&R sector can reap the benefits of becoming eco-friendly. By Marloes Hop

Sustainability has become a hot item for consumers as well as for businesses. Whereas entrepreneurship used to be all about making profit, nowadays society has come to the realisation that sustainability is inevitable to maintain a world with optimal environmental conditions. Governmental regulations are becoming increasingly strict and businesses aim to save costs by improving efficiency while operating more ecologically. 

To find more efficient and eco-friendly ways of conducting business activities, research and development is a must. Much progress can be made in the field of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R). Improving and altering these HVAC&R systems and designing them in an efficient way is a great step in the right direction. 

One of the most influential governmental regulations for businesses is the phasing down of F-gases, which have a high global warming potential. Because of these new regulations, businesses are forced to switch to environmentally friendly refrigerants for their cooling systems. As of 1 January 2015, refilling with HFCs, such as the commonly used R22, will not be allowed. An alternative for refilling chillers with R22 is refilling with propane (R290), which has very similar thermodynamic behaviour to R22. Therefore, new chillers in which propane can be used as a refrigerant have been designed, for example the Heinen & Hopman chillers. 

The role of fuel oil regulations

In addition, stricter fuel oil regulations force maritime companies to change over from heavy fuel oils (HFOs) to marine gas oils (MGOs), because these have a lower sulphur content. Already in 2010, sea-going vessels sailing in ECA waters had to update their operations to stricter sulphur limitations (maximum sulphur content of 1.0%). To reduce the temperature of these low-sulphur MGOs and control fuel viscosity and lubricity, a cooling unit is required. MGO coolers ensure an optimal protection for any type of engine when fuel is switched from HFO to MGO. 

Another way in which the energy consumption can be reduced in the field of HVAC is by using more energy-efficient compressors, such as the Turbocor compressor. This type of compressor has no oil or oil pump. The shaft hangs in a magnetic field, which eliminates mechanical wear and tear. It is a lot more energy-efficient than conventional compressors (reduced energy consumption up to 50%), it has a lower power consumption and above all, it is maintenance free. 

Choosing these green alternatives is in some cases necessary, due to governmental regulations, but above all it is beneficial to the environment. Saving money at the same time is a nice byproduct.

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Marloes Hop is with Heinen & Hopman in the Netherlands

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