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Resource Data Management (RDM), the leading control and monitoring company, has introduced the Intuitive Power Store to protect refrigeration systems from damage following power outages.

Refrigeration compressors, as used across the food and drink industry, can suffer severe damage following start-up after a power failure as a result of stepper valves being out of sequence and in the wrong place.

This can lead to liquid refrigerant entering the compressor crankcase, resulting in low oil pressure and possible failure. Resultant damage can shorten compressor working life or may be so serious that it requires complete replacement, representing a huge expense for end users.

Recognising the problem, RDM has developed the Intuitive Power Store which links to the company’s stepper valve controller, to provide protection against compressor damage on start-up following power failure.

refrigeration compressors for the food industry

The combination automatically closes stepper valves when mains power is lost. “It is effectively a mini Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) with a brain,” says Andrew Chandler, md of RDM.

In the event of mains power loss, the Power Store provides the energy to enable the stepper valve controller to accurately control the setting of the valve to a fully closed position. When mains power is restored, stepper valves are then returned to the correct operational settings gradually, in line with the evaporator duty required.  This means that the compressor is not hit with a large and unpredictable load before it is fully up and running, and in a safe operating condition to respond.

“Power outages are by no means uncommon, for all sorts of reasons. The cost of replacing compressors can be very significant for end users. The new RDM system gives refrigeration users the vital protection they need, and provides the opportunity to control system restart to ensure cooling power is delivered to where it is needed - while minimising the impact and potential damage on refrigeration plant.”

The company points out that the combination of Intuitive Power Store and stepper valve controller represents a fraction of the price of a compressor.


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UK:  Businesses waste several hundreds of thousands of pounds on unnecessary cleaning and maintenance of heating and ventilation equipment.

Businesses throughout the Thames Valley region are paying higher energy bills and expensive maintenance costs in order to keep their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment running effectively, claims RAB Specialist Engineers.

Simply by fitting a new external air filtration device, supplied by the Newbury-based start-up firm, could result in total savings of more than £2m for many businesses operating air handling equipment in the Thames Valley area.  Made from a washable polypropylene material, the simple filter screens can be fitted over air intake equipment. The screens act as a primary pre-filtration defence against large volumes of airborne debris, which, over time, can cause extensive damage to sensitive HVAC equipment.

RAB Specialist Engineers, which provides consultancy and air handling engineering services to the building services sector, says the savings are based on figures representing just 50% of the number of businesses occupying the 12 million ft2 of office space currently available in the Thames Valley region.

Airborne debris, such as domestic waste, carrier bags, leaves, pollen and insects, is the leading cause of fouling and clogging of cooling towers, heat exchangers, air cooled chillers, rooftop units and other HVAC systems according to local entrepreneur and businessman Richard Betts.

Identifying a niche in the air handling market, and with over 30 years’ experience in the industry, Richard Betts explains how a simple preventative measure to stop airborne debris from entering HVAC equipment could save millions of pounds in unnecessary replacement and maintenance costs.

“Our research shows that when air handling equipment becomes clogged up with debris, internal components such as dirty condenser or evaporator coils restrict the airflow through the equipment and increases the amount of energy required by compressor motors to maintain optimum performance.  Studies show that air handling equipment, which is commonly used by many local business premises, will use up to 30% more energy if external air filtration equipment is not fitted. Furthermore, higher operating pressures and temperatures will reduce the life expectancy of these valuable assets and can result in compressor failure.

Essentially, a compressor is the heart of any air conditioning or refrigeration system and without it, cooling cannot take place. This can be a facility manager’s worst nightmare as compressor replacement is the most expensive repair on any HVAC system.

Rising energy prices are forcing many businesses to implement smart energy efficiency measures. Fitting air intake filter screens from an experienced company such as RAB Specialist Engineers, is one way energy and facility managers can achieve this goal, while at the same time reducing extensive maintenance costs and extending the life of expensive HVAC assets.

When you consider the cost of maintaining HVAC equipment that hasn’t been fitted with air intake filter screens in terms of servicing time and replacement parts then the screens make financial sense. Typically, businesses will see a return on investment in less than two years.

Air intake filter screens are already used extensively in a number of different industry sectors throughout the US.  Companies such as Starbucks are using them on refrigerated food displays, Harvard Law School has fitted them to filter out fine construction dust on its louvered air intake systems and Motorola has installed them on its two-way radio transmitting station located on the 108th floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Here in the UK we’re dealing with an increasing number of new enquiries every day and we’ve already supplied one of the UK’s leading supermarkets with air intake screens for its cooling plant, which had become inefficient due to plastic bags and other debris blocking the filters.

Managing Director Richard Betts is currently offering expert advice and a range of engineering services to businesses looking to reduce energy costs and improve the efficiency of HVAC equipment. For a breakdown of the energy calculations and maintenance costs used by RAB Specialist Engineers, click here.


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Mitsubishi Electric has launched a new air conditioning unit that uses less refrigerant than traditional VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) systems whilst providing simultaneous heating and cooling in a simplified two-pipe design.

The system is already working to full effect at the offices of mechanical and electrical specialists, Working Environments Ltd, who are using the new air conditioning unit to deliver comfortable and stable internal temperatures for staff at their Southampton headquarters.

“We have worked closely with Mitsubishi Electric for many years and when we first heard of this innovative development, we wanted to be one of the first to check out its merits,” explained Mike Jenkins, Special Projects Director for Working Environments.

“By combining the benefits of a water based system with the efficiency and flexibility of a heat recovery VRF system, HVRF is proving the ideal integrated solution.”

HVRF has other significant key benefits which open its use up to many other buildings. Having no refrigerant in occupied spaces whilst delivering simultaneous heating and cooling via quiet fan coils means HVRF is particularly suited to applications such as hotels and high end residential situations.

In addition, the system offers significant reductions in installation time and lower running costs and emissions than the traditional methods of heating and cooling.

Current legislation restricts the use of refrigerants in buildings, with EN378 in particular intended to minimise possible hazards to persons, property and the environment from refrigerating systems and refrigerants.  As such, leak detection must be provided if, in the case of R410a, a concentration of 0.44 kg/m3refrigerant could be exceeded if all the refrigerant from a system were to leak into a single room.

This legislation is particularly applicable for hotels.  Generally, this limits systems to about 20Kg of R410a or forces the addition of leak detection systems.  The only other option is to break larger systems down into smaller ones.  Either way, an increase in cost and complexity cannot be avoided…until now.

“We realised that one way to reduce cost and minimise possible hazards to persons, property and the environment, would be to remove the refrigerant from occupied spaces using a water based system,” explained Mark Grayston.  “This hybrid VRF system has been developed exclusively to answer this need.”

The outdoor unit behaves in much the same way as a two-pipe heat recovery VRF system with two refrigerant pipes connecting a Hybrid Branch Controller (HBC), which has been optimised to provide the same efficiency as standard VRF.

The HBC enables simultaneous heating and cooling with heat recovery to take place in a similar way that the standard Branch Controller can.  However, instead of two refrigerant pipes sending refrigerant for cooling or heating to the indoor units, hot or cold water is sent instead using either plastic or copper pipe.  Efficiency is further improved from the heat-recovery defrost, enabling short defrost times with immediate return to heating.

HVRF provides the function of a four-pipe fan coil system and the efficiency of modern VRF in one system.  Off coil temperatures are dependent on on-coil temperatures which results in high sensible cooling and efficient heating.  Load capacity control is achieved through the use of inverter driven pumps and flow control valves which are all built into the HBC.  Phased installation also reduces building down-time and room sizes can be reduced whilst still providing a high end heating and cooling system.

All the advanced VRF controls can be used and combined with the flexibility of design and installation that VRF offers and high levels of efficiency, HVRF now offers a serious alternative to chiller technology and allows even more building owners to benefit from the low carbon potential of heat pumps.

Heat Recovery system

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Mitsubishi Electric has launched a new air conditioning unit that uses less refrigerant than traditional VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) systems whilst providing simultaneous heating and cooling in a simplified two-pipe design.

The HVRF system operates without using refrigerant in occupied spaces, removing the need for leak detection equipment and allowing more properties to take advantage of manageable phased installation through the system’s modular design.

At the heart of the new system is an HBC (Hybrid Branch Controller) box, which is connected to the outdoor unit via traditional refrigerant piping. Between the HBC box and the indoor fan coils, the system uses water piping but still offers high sensible cooling and stable room temperatures for maximum comfort.

“Many of our buildings have been traditionally cooled and heated through a combination of chiller technology and oil or gas boilers, but with increasing legislation on energy efficiency and the rising cost of fuel, we now need a low-carbon, cost-effective alternative,” explains Mitsubishi Electric’s Mark Grayston.  “We have developed this new approach to answer the need for energy efficiency and internal comfort.”

Set to rival traditional heating and cooling, the new HVRF system delivers optimum comfort and efficiency, using an innovative combination of unique 2-pipe technology and water to provide simultaneous heating and cooling with heat recovery.

reduced refrigerant Air Conditioning unit - Infographic

This article is brought to you by Fridgehub – a major new industry website for manufacturers, distributers, service providers, operators and consumers of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat-pump (RACHP) products and services.

Follow @theFridgehub on Twitter