AGCC Discusses the Benefits of Combination Units

Trane's Horizon single-stage absorption chiller, just one of the many combination units introduced at the AGCC press event.

ATLANTA, GA — At the AHR Expo here, the American Gas Cooling Center (AGCC) held a forum that discussed mounting energy problems plaguing the whole of the United States.

Manufacturers present included York, Trane, Tecogen, Goettl Air Conditioning, Munters, Robur, RPE, Thermax, Energy Concepts, Alturdyne, CoolTec, and Broad USA.

Tony Occhonero, executive director of AGCC, opened the event with a challenge to manufacturers. “I challenge each and every manufacturer to step up and meet the demand for energy conservation through combination of gas and electric systems.”

He said the best way to help the energy situation is to utilize the developed integration of cooling systems, and that blackouts and brownouts, while prevalent of late in California, are not inevitable.

“Natural gas air conditioning, as part of an integrated cooling system, offers immediate relief from reliance on overburdened electric power grids,” said Occhonero. “In increasing numbers, commercial and industrial energy consumers are integrating gas air conditioning into their electric heating and cooling plants.”

With these hybrid plants, consumers can choose their operating fuel based on availability and price, he said.

Benefits Cited

The AGCC says there are multiple benefits offered by integrated natural gas-electric equipment systems, and some of them will help in gaining customer attention for the product:

  • Lower lifecycle costs;
  • Electric peak-load reduction;
  • Increased efficiency;
  • Improved IAQ; and
  • Enhanced flexibility in managing fluctuating energy prices and fuel availability.
  • According to figures quoted by Occhonero, building air conditioning and lighting account for 40% of U.S. energy consumption. Electric utilities today welcome customers who can switch off demands on the power grid, especially during peak periods of the day.

    Occhonero said that while the initial cost of these hybrid cooling systems can exceed that of an all-electric system by as much as 50%, the AGCC has found that the “front-end cost” can be recovered in as little as three years. “Assuming a 20-year life span for the equipment, the building will then realize substantial annual operational cost savings for the next 17 years,” he said.

    Chiller-Heater Combos

    Combination chiller-heater units have been on the market for 10 years in Europe, but have just recently been introduced in the United States.

    Gearoid Foley, sales and marketing manager for Broad USA (New York, NY), pointed out that a few years ago no one thought there would be any natural gas left as of the year 2000. The fact that there is a supply left is great, he said, but there is still a need to conserve.

    In teaming with this idea of conservation, he introduced a new product in its Spectrum series. Spectrum DP2000™ is an absorption chiller-heater and with automated operation controls.

    “The combination chiller-heater reduces the mechanical room space used by 50% by eliminating the need for a boiler completely,” said Foley.

    Robur Corp. (Evansville, IN) has developed what it calls a GAX chiller-heater, which is now being introduced to the market. The self-contained unit includes a heated chilled water pump, expansion tank, and automatic changeover from cooling to heating.

    “We need to get the information out on these new developments,” said Joe Browning, product manager for Alturdyne Energy Systems (San Diego, CA). “Our electric motor-driven chiller, for example, allows customers to develop a time-of-day [rate base] for usage.”

    With this chiller, Browning said power outages would have less of an effect because of the emergency backup built into the system. The unit is 45% input-energy efficient and will allow for different usage of its electric motor during off peak periods.

    Mike Thompson of Trane (La Crosse, WI) introduced an extension to the Horizon single-stage hot water and steam-fired absorption water chiller line, with the idea of providing another alternative for commercial, industrial, and process applications.

    Available with a multitude of standard specifications, Thompson said that changes in the pricing of electricity make absorption water chillers a viable choice.

    John Ryan, vice president of marketing for Goettl (Phoenix, AZ), said these combination chillers have a long life and high efficiency rating.

    Heat Pumps

    “The major advance in heating efficiency provided by the HiSorb™ heat pump will ease price pressure on winter natural gas, and the gas cooling will help alleviate summer electric shortages,” said Don Erickson, president of Energy Concepts, Inc. (Annapolis, MD). “These problems can only be solved by an appliance having both high efficiency and affordability. Both of which HiSorb has.” Erickson said the 8-ton air-cooled model has a gas cooling COP of 0.95 at 95°F ambient, and the 30-ton water-cooled model will achieve a 1.15 gas COP.

    Publication date: 02/19/2001

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