It’s the one appliance we turn to for cooling relief on scorching summer days and for cosy comfort in the cold of winter even though that respite comes at a big cost. The debate on how to make energy hungry air conditioners more efficient is incessant, but a new concept has emerged that offers exciting opportunities for the commercial space.
Ausmech Air, the trusted commercial air conditioning service specialists, has teamed up with the University of NSW to rethink the way to cool a building using the power of solar rather than conventional air conditioning. The concept of solar cooling is exciting when you consider Australian Government figures suggest traditional heating and cooling systems (or HVAC) typically account for as much as 30 per cent of energy use and costs in commercial and office spaces. It is said these systems dominate peak building electricity demand.
So how does it work?
The concept of using a desiccant wheel to extract hot air from the roof and replace it with cool air to chill the room was the brainchild of the UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering group. Ausmech Air jumped at the opportunity to join in by helping with the design work, fabricating parts and installing the experimental system.
The desiccant air conditioning system uses a rotating desiccant wheel and an indirect evaporative cooling unit. The room is cooled by taking heat, which is extracted from solar panels on the colorbond roof, and feeding it into the desiccant system via a hot air fan box. An indirect evaporative cooler box acts as a heat exchanger to cool the air as it enters the indoor space of the university’s Tyree building.
Ausmech Air conditioning service team spent nine months collaborating with the university to refine the experimental system to ensure its functionality followed by fabricating and installing ductwork to direct the heat air stream into the hot air fan box as well as carry out electrical wiring and commission the desiccant system. Ausmech Air also fitted data collection equipment to monitor the system and determine its viability.
Why is it so exciting?
Using the power of solar to drive a desiccant cooling system is an innovative alternative to traditional air conditioning systems. And as the debate about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions rages on, perhaps it’s time we start thinking of new ways to cool commercial buildings with common spaces.
This project is an exciting opportunity to show we can make air conditioning use more efficient on a commercial scale and significantly reduce energy consumption by adapting to a desiccant system using solar energy and water to cool buildings.
Ausmech Air is proud to be part of the pioneering experiment – one of many uniquely complex projects we have been involved in.