ORLANDO, Fla. — The industry’s most innovative technology will be on display later this month when the winners of International Exposition Co.’s 2016 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) Innovation Awards proudly show off their award-winning products at HVAC’s biggest event of the year.

The annual awards competition honors the most inventive and original products, systems, and technologies showcased at each year’s AHR Expo in 10 categories. The winning products are selected from numerous entries by a panel of judges consisting of ASHRAE members who evaluated the products based on innovation, application, value to the user, and market impact.

“Over the years, the visible trends and themes across award winners have shifted; however, the innovative spirit has remained constant,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co. “We’ve seen solutions for markets that were previously inconceivable. The annual Innovation Award winners continue to set the pace fast and the bar high for evolution across the HVACR industry. Each year’s competition is no less fascinating than the last in this respect, and we enthusiastically commend those who’ve earned this merit for 2016.”

Winners of the 2016 Innovation Awards are noted below and will be recognized at an awards ceremony at the AHR Expo.

Building Automation: Accutrol LLC

The Accutrol AVC Fume Hood Control System is designed for use in variable air volume (VAV) fume hoods. The product combines the low pressure-drop AccuValve Airflow Control Valve with a smart fume hood display and a powerful, simple, and intuitive user interface. The system can be utilized in new sustainable-design construction as well as in the retrofit of laboratories, replacing older, existing, energy-wasting airflow technologies.

Other systems often require extensive training in order to program and configure the controllers, but not the AVC Fume Hood Control System, explained company president Fred George. “VAV fume hood types consisting of vertical sash, horizontal sash, or the most difficult combination sashes are easily configured through our intuitive Accutrol Insight software, eliminating the need for complicated menu-driven instructions.”

In addition to simplifying start-up, the system features a lower cost of installation and operation, improved safety and ease of use for laboratory staff, and native BACnet® for industry-standard protocol, noted George. “The design of this product makes it very simple to learn and use. Start-up and future changes will be less costly, thereby reducing the overall cost of ownership for the laboratory control system. Engineering design teams can be confident that the system will provide the owner with precise, sustainable, low energy use and simplified operation of their critical laboratory airflow control over the life of the building.”

Cooling: Sporlan Division, Parker-Hannifin Corp.

ZoomLine refrigerant line assemblies speed up installation while reducing installation costs and errors, thus enabling additional installations or service calls. Featuring no-kink flexibility, ZoomLine offers faster and easier bending, making installation smooth and simple. Extended lengths eliminate couplings, elbows, and adapters, as well as braze joints and the potential for leaks and rework, allowing for the fabrication of a cleaner system.

“ZoomLine eliminates many of the issues associated with using copper, which has been accepted because no better alternative was available,” said Glen Steinkoenig, product manager. “It’s readily bent and re-bent to fit into the required location and is very easy to put into position when compared to both hard and soft copper. It can readily connect to existing system components with a variety of connection styles like ODM or ODF copper stubs and SAE flares for mini-split and VRF [variable refrigerant flow] applications.”

ZoomLine can be used in commercial and residential applications, but it fits best with commercial applications, where the longer line lengths and multitude of braze joints and bends can be eliminated. “It can be used in both retrofit and new construction and makes an ideal refrigerant tubing in self-contained display cases where the condensing unit is slid out and back into the display case during service,” noted Steinkoenig.

“With ZoomLine, the system design engineer can reduce component parts, because one length can be used for many different routings where specific bent copper tubes were previously required,” said Steinkoenig. “Contractors and installers benefit because less time on the job means more time to perform other jobs, resulting in more revenue and happier customers.”

Green Building: International Wastewater Systems Inc.

The Piranha wastewater heat recovery heat pump is a self-contained heat pump that extracts thermal energy from wastewater for domestic hot water production using a specially engineered direct-expansion heat exchanger. The Piranha has been optimized for 50- to 200-unit residential buildings and stand-alone commercial applications and is easily installed in new and retrofit construction projects.

“The Piranha is truly unique in that it reuses thermal energy in wastewater,” said Cameron Whitelaw, marketing manager. “It’s a complete packaged solution that simply requires plug-and-play connections.”

The Piranha features high operational efficiency of about 560 percent and produces up to 4,000 gallons of hot water per day, with a potable hot water leaving temperature up to 160°F. The self-contained unit makes design and installation (both new and retrofit) simple, and it’s specifically designed to require minimal annual maintenance.

“The Piranha is exceptionally cost-effective and provides attractive payback periods,” said Whitelaw. “At IWS, we believe reusing thermal energy dumped down our drains will be a key component of buildings in the future. Instead of thinking of the term ‘wastewater,’ we like to think of it as ‘opportunity water.’ The Piranha is an innovative water heating solution that allows engineers to meet emission-reduction laws and green build standards.”

Heating: Victaulic

The Victaulic System Solution for Saturated Steam enables the efficient installation of saturated steam and condensate piping and allows for quick, simple maintenance, thereby reducing system downtime. Assembling grooved couplings does not require heat or flame, nor does it produce fumes, eliminating hazards to personnel and property during installation and maintenance. The system also offers installation savings.

“While grooved mechanical piping systems exist for a wide range of applications, Victaulic’s grooved couplings and fittings can be used on saturated steam and condensate piping,” said Kurt Gobreski, director of valves and large diameter systems. “Until now, steam systems have required welding, flanging, or threading to join distribution, process, and condensate return piping.”

With the System Solution for Saturated Steam, pipe is joined by positioning the coupling seal and housing segments on the pipe ends and tightening the bolts and nuts to the specified torque requirement. With a union at every joint, the system enables quick, simple maintenance, and the joining process mitigates environmental factors, such as inclement weather conditions that complicate welding.

And, Victaulic steam couplings and fittings do more than just allow those who design, install, and maintain steam systems to experience the benefits of grooved piping, noted Gobreski. “Our system also addresses the shrinking pool of welders, as it eliminates the need for a certified welder and alleviates that industry pain point.”

Indoor Air Quality: Semco LLC

ASCENDANT™ is a conventional cooling, active desiccant hybrid system that is performance-optimized to deliver and control low dew point air while minimizing energy input. This highly efficient system delivers low dew points (down to 20˚F) while minimizing the tons of cooling input and the cost associated with operating refrigeration-based dehumidification systems.

Available in five standard models ranging up to 20,000 cfm, the ASCENDANT Series is ideal for hospital operating rooms, archival and dry storage, hotel/condo buildings, and other applications requiring low dew point temperatures and supply air humidity levels as low as 15 grains. The system operates without the need for exhaust heat recovery, which makes it ideal for applications requiring 100 percent outdoor air when exhaust air is unavailable for collection.

“Health care facilities need more than just heating and ventilation,” said Tom Rice, desiccant wheel products sales director. “ASCENDANT controls infection, air movement, and odor while maintaining temperature, humidity, air quality, and noise at superior comfort levels for patients and staff. AIA/ASHRAE guidelines require 65°F and 60 percent relative humidity for delivery rooms. This and even colder room conditions with lower space humidity can easily be achieved with ASCENDANT, and no reheat is required to deliver 59°F to the space, saving energy and money.”

ASCENDANT was created to allow ideal space temperature and humidity control while enhancing IAQ, comfort, and safety, noted Rice. “It addresses hard-to-handle building latent loads that directly contribute to more energy-efficient space-cooling devices while maximizing indoor air comfort. With ASCENDANT, you can truly have it all.”

Plumbing: Semco LLC

NEUTON™ is a smart, plug-and-play, proactive, condensation control device for active chilled beams. It is a factory-built and pretested, controlled, chilled beam pump module package complete with its own powered, integrated direct-digital controller; chilled and hot water connections; valves; variable-speed electronically commutated motor (ECM) pumps; smart sensors; and other unique features.

“Until now, cost, condensation, and controls concerns have limited the application of active chilled beam technology,” said Tom Rice, DWP sales director. “NEUTON resolves all of these issues by providing superior, cost-effective performance using a fully integrated, plug-and-play controlled pump package optimized specifically for chilled beam applications.”

NEUTON eliminates the expense of a separate chiller, boiler, and secondary water distribution system associated with conventional chilled beam HVAC designs. Instead of expensive secondary piping loops, each NEUTON blends and recirculates return water within its zone to convert typical 42°F and 140° primary loop water temperatures to optimal 58° or 100° chilled beam discharge temperatures. This prevents cooling-mode condensation and heating season heat stratification. One NEUTON can control up to 10 chilled beams, depending upon the water flow rate required.

For contractors, on-site installation decisions are simplified, because the NEUTON supply/return piping loop take-offs are predetermined by quick-connect threaded-pipe inlet/outlet sizes to prevent insufficient flow and throttling noise. NEUTON also simplifies specification for engineers, because chilled beam sizing and their interfaces to dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) no longer requires complicated software calculations. Instead, the plug-and-play NEUTON digitally controls chilled beam and DOAS operation with strict temperature and humidity tolerances.

Refrigeration: Carel USA

HEOS Sistema is a low-charge, water-cooled refrigerated case solution that is designed to reduce refrigerant charge, refrigeration leaks, energy use, and installation and maintenance costs while increasing food quality. The solution includes one condensing unit per refrigerated case, which contains a variable-speed brushless dc (BLDC) compressor and inverter, control board, and electronic expansion valves.

Each unit, fitted with its own BLDC compressor, can adapt its operating pressure to the load conditions in real time, allowing the compressor to operate efficiently at all times. The heat of condensation from the refrigerated cases is carried outside of the store via a simple water loop, which, in turn, is cooled by an outdoor free cooling device. The water loop can be integrated into the HVAC management system, allowing advanced heat recovery functions and consequent savings in both cooling and heating operating modes.

“While the concept of water-cooled systems is not new to the industry, the technology and control strategy of the HEOS Sistema system is innovative,” said Martino Manfrin, CEO. “This solution utilizes highly efficient horizontal BLDC compressors to maximize the refrigeration case’s efficiency while the wide range of modulation of the power-plus dc inverter and the E2V stepper electronic expansion valve mean each individual unit’s evaporator temperature operates in the best working conditions.”

With the HEOS Sistema, on-site installation can be fast and economical with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plumbing rather than brazed copper refrigerant lines, noted Manfrin. “In addition, maintenance, downtime, and product loss is minimized with service options that include either replacement of the standard, off-the-shelf component or full removal and replacement of the case’s condensing unit.”

Software: Plasma Air Intl. Inc.

PlasmaSoft 2.0 IAQ Procedure Software calculates and compares contaminant levels for a particular space using both ASHRAE’s Ventilation Rate Method (VRM) and the Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP), providing for the reduction of outside air intake. As a result, PlasmaSoft 2.0 enables commercial, institutional, and industrial building owners to reduce first cost by downsizing heating and cooling equipment while lowering energy use and improving IAQ.

PlasmaSoft 2.0 is a Web-based software program that contains all ASHRAE Standard 62.1 mass-balance equations as well as default values for occupant density and outdoor air rates per person and per square foot for all space types.

“Previously, these calculations were performed haphazardly or not at all,” said Larry Sunshine, vice president of sales and marketing. “With the advent of PlasmaSoft, consulting engineers and other related professionals can now leverage a reliable program to perform these functions while storing project and individual zone data in the cloud.”

Sunshine added that PlasmaSoft 2.0 removes the guesswork from establishing a healthy indoor environment by providing consulting engineers, developers, architects, and contractors with a simplified tool that takes advantage of ASHRAE’s underutilized IAQ procedure.

Tools and Instruments: Sporlan Division, Parker-Hannifin Corp.

ZoomLock braze-free fittings, designed for HVACR applications up to 700 psi, offer significant time savings when compared to traditional pipe-joining methods, and installation does not require brazing, hot-work permits, or fire spotters.

ZoomLock can be used for retrofit and new construction in both commercial and residential HVACR applications. Its value is best captured in applications where multiple braze joints must be made quickly, cleanly, and leak-free, said Scott Junkin, product manager. “Press-to-connect fittings have been widely adopted in the plumbing industry due to the significant time savings, repeatability, and simplicity of installation. ZoomLock’s press-to-connect technology is approved for high-pressure HVACR applications.”

ZoomLock is aimed at increasing technician productivity, explained Junkin, as one technician can quickly do the connecting job alone with no safety equipment or special experience. “In just minutes, ZoomLock provides a clean, leak-proof connection, and the fittings are more repeatable than brazed joints,” said Junkin. “By eliminating concerns about gas and flames, ZoomLock also gives technicians more flexibility in where and when they can work, plus there’s no need to nitrogen-purge the lines.”

Using specially designed crimping tools, technicians simply need to connect the deburred tube ends into the fitting (which has O-rings inside) and press the assembly into place for a secure, leak-free seal. ZoomLock connectors are currently available as a traditional straight coupling and a 90-degree elbow with tees, reducers, slip couplings, and caps connectors coming soon. The fittings can accommodate copper tubes from ¼ inch to 1 1/8 inches.

Ventilation: Aeroseal LLC

Aeroseal is a computerized duct-sealing system that seals air ducts and ventilation shafts from the inside. This unique inside-out approach makes it possible to quickly and easily seal the entire duct system — even sections that are hidden behind walls, under insulation, through tight spaces, or other inaccessible locations.

“Prior to Aeroseal, there were limited options available to contractors wishing to seal leaks in ventilation shafts,” said Bryan Barnes, senior director of business development. “These options typically entailed the demolition of existing structures and costly repairs. Aeroseal sealing can access the entire shaft quickly and easily without demolition or expensive reconstruction. The sealant does not coat the entire interior of the ductwork, but, instead, accumulates primarily in and around the leak itself.”

Aeroseal is 95 percent effective at sealing all the leaks in a duct or ventilation system, and the computerized process measures results as the sealant is being applied, which ensures its effectiveness. A computer printout of the before and after duct leak measurements provides certification of results. While Aeroseal was first introduced as a highly effective technology for residential duct sealing, it is also a commercial duct-sealing option.

“Aeroseal technology provides HVAC contractors with a new service they can offer their clients,” said Barnes. “Adding Aeroseal duct sealing provides easy expansion into the growing home-performance market. And, for commercial contractors, it offers a long-sought-after solution to poor ventilation due to leaks in ventilation shafts — one of the most prevalent problems impacting today’s buildings.”

Publication date: 1/11/2016

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