ACHRNEWS

AHR Expo Is Green and Sunny

February 15, 2010
Mike Murphy

It will come as no surprise that a lot of the new products at the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Exposition (AHR Expo), Orlando, Jan. 25–27, addressed some aspect of energy efficiency or alternative energy. In the vernacular of the day, some would simply call that being green. And green they were - companies that came sporting newer, sprightly colored green brochures, and some had even changed equipment color to the comforting verdant hue. Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company (IEC), the show manager, said, “Green seems to be becoming a competitive advantage for both attendees and exhibitors.”

With that observation about green, and perhaps an understatement, here is where the sunshine came into play: According to the IEC, the entire green efficiency trend was reflected in the 100-plus educational programs during the three-day event. Participants, such as the International Energy Agency, conducted a program on solar air conditioning and refrigeration. Fifty-four of the exhibitors at this year’s expo were displaying solar products. Out of the more than 1,800 exhibitors, 54 is not an overwhelming number. However, it was not simply a collection of solar panels for setting atop sod roofs; the technology has become more sophisticated, and even with the ups and downs of the solar industry, it looks as though some elements are here to stay.

In addition to the general green aura at the expo, there were certainly more than a few interesting products and trends. Following are a few sights seen by the strolling NEWS’ reporters.

GO VEGETARIAN

Thermera®, by Climalife is a natural solution for heat transfer that can be used in heat recovery units, air conditioning, heat pumps, and industrial heat transfer. What makes it unique is that the basis of Thermera is natural, water-soluble, biodegradable betaine, a by-product of sugar beet processing, which is separated from molasses.

GET YOUR DUCTS IN A ROW

Sheet metal and ductwork exhibitors were perhaps the most uniformly progressive group at the expo. Nearly every duct manufacturer had brought a new green product or an enhanced product line to the big show. Gaskets now appear where once there were none, air does not escape tremendous lengths of rubberized seams, and many duct insulation products not only repel water but contain antimicrobial agents to reduce the potential of microbial growth. It might be OK to be called green, but no one wants green stuff actually growing in their ductwork.

WIRELESS IS EVERYWHERE

There are many more uses for wireless technology than a simple thermostat sensor. In fact, the proliferation of wireless applications at the expo made one reporter recall his favorite T-shirt philosophy: Beer, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. With the advent of control boxes, some that look much like a computer wireless router gadget with blinking lights and a couple of antennae, wireless technologies have bombarded the HVAC industry. Aside from the fast becoming mundane wall thermostat that you can carry from room to room, you may gather data to enable trend analysis, or to apply statistical process control through a number of wireless product applications. For example, wireless gauges can connect data to control systems to actuate motors, valves, or pumps; wireless monitors on freezers can predict failures before they occur; and wireless gizmos on steam traps can also detect early failures thus preventing expensive pipe damage.

In addition, the future may hold in store more smart-grid demand response systems operated by utility companies. Old buildings with antiquated wiring or piping systems that cannot accept electronic signals from utilities are prime candidates for wireless upgrades.

BACK UP A FEW PAGES

If you browse your periodicals from back to front - a peculiar, yet common, phenomenon exhibited among HVAC professionals - please jump back to the feature article “AHR Expo: New Products on Display” where you will find new products from the AHR Expo including: air conditioning, boilers, chillers, ductwork, furnaces, thermostats, variable refrigerant flow products, and a veritable plethora of more green stuff. All of this for you, from your friends with sore feet.

Publication date: 02/15/2010