At the AHR Expo this year, Daikin Applied introduced two chillers and a rooftop unit and also took the opportunity to discuss the company’s decision to transition to R-32. As the marquee event in the HVACR industry, the AHR Expo provided the perfect opportunity for the company to highlight these new products, which demonstrate their commitment to the industry, the environment, and to customers, noted Julia Schroeder, director of communications at Daikin Applied Americas.
“Daikin is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate impact, while also providing superior air quality to our customers,” she said. “Over the past few years, we’ve been very focused on finding the best low-GWP alternatives to replace R-410A. In September 2019, we announced that Daikin considers R-32 to be the best low-GWP alternative refrigerant for most products. While at the Expo, we dedicated time to continue the dialogue on R-32.”
CHILLERS AND ROOFTOP
Daikin Applied also highlighted brand new chiller technology centered on centrifugal products that use new HFO refrigerants. The new products, the Aptitude™ oil bearing centrifugal chiller and Magnitude® magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller, both utilize R-1233zd. They are both ultra-high efficiency (as low as 0.49 kW/ton at full load operation and part-load values as low as 0.29 kW/ton) and will be available this year.
“We’ve determined that the next-generation low-GWP refrigerant R-1233zd is a good long-term solution for the centrifugal chiller market,” said Art Rizoli, director of centrifugal products at Daikin Applied. “It is the only low-pressure option that offers low toxicity and non-flammability. Both the Aptitude and Magnitude products are designed for easy installation and reliable operation.”
During the development process, Daikin focused on making the footprint of these chillers the smallest in the industry compared to other manufacturers within the same tonnage range. This makes them ideal for retrofits and sites where real estate is at a premium cost, noted Rizoli. He added that they are best utilized in buildings where owners value low life-cycle and ownership cost.
“With these chillers, we want to demonstrate to the market that we are very environmentally conscious and that we want to lead the charge relative to sustainability,” said Mike Schwartz, CEO of Daikin Applied Americas Inc. “We still have the R-134a lineup, but now we can give customers a choice.”
Also on display was the new Rebel Applied packaged rooftop system, which is a configurable rooftop unit, offering a glimpse of next generation rooftop technology, including ultra-low air leakage. The Rebel Applied has been in production for three months, but the Expo offered the first opportunity for the public to see the product.
“For the Rebel Applied unit, a key feature is the retrofit capability,” said Matt Dodds, product manager of applied rooftop and self-contained systems at Daikin Applied. “Contractors can add or remove sections to adjust the length of the unit to fit on old or existing roof curb, saving them time, effort, and cost. We’ve also improved the serviceability features to make it easier on technicians and other professionals. Our Intelligent Equipment has an improved level of detail that offers real-time monitoring of product and refrigerant conditions. And because this product is highly customizable, it provides engineers a ton of flexibility to create units that meet their specific needs and required features.”
Schwartz added that these new chillers and rooftop offerings tie into Daikin Applied’s goal of creating better outcomes and better environments for all end users.
“We’re absolutely convinced that we can create better comfort and efficiency with our products,” he said. “The building owner/operators love them, because they’re less costly to operate and more comfortable for their clients. That’s the focus of what we’re trying to communicate.”
Jared Swanson, product manager of Intelligent Solutions at Daikin Applied, noted that one of the most important trends right now is the quickly evolving technology of smart buildings and artificial intelligence. Indeed, he said that this is one of the most significant areas that will change at an exponential rate over the next few years.
“This technology helps us understand how the building is behaving through reading a significant number of data points for the building’s water use, lighting load, and HVAC energy use,” he said. “This helps us better predict building performance ahead of maintenance issues or with changes in the building’s energy, electrical, and gas demand.”
In addition, he noted that AI will affect how utilities and end users can use automated demand response to control on-peak of electricity demand by shutting equipment down or modulating equipment down to control peak energy usage.
“That’s not something that’s easily achieved today, but through smart buildings and through the Internet of Things (IoT), I believe this will be more commonplace in years to come, especially in states with high energy costs,” he said.
Swanson predicts that the intelligence of equipment will continue to improve and that as a result, serviceability information that gets relayed to unit controllers will make products easier to service.
“Daikin will continue to integrate analytics within our products to make them easier to diagnose issues and preform preventative care and maintenance,” he said.
Another big trend in the HVACR industry is the push to move to new low-GWP refrigerants. Schwartz adds that this is a topic fraught with development and regulatory challenges, but Daikin is continuing to develop products that will be more sustainable.
That trend is being nudged along by the federal government, with both the House and Senate introducing a version of the American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which would start the process of phasing down HFCs in the U.S.
“I was on the Hill last month with a group from AHRI, and we met with the vice president, and one of our messages to him was, ‘we would like you and the president to support this,’” said Schwartz. “Right now, there is a lack of federal preemption in the current Act, and we would like to see that in there. Part of the challenge we have today with California and other states is that we essentially have a patchwork of different state requirements, and it’s a nightmare for any OEM. How do we theoretically support 50 different state regulations? I think if the AIM Act could build in the federal preemption, we’d have a federal standard, rather than a state standard. We’re very supportive of the Act, and we’re doing what we can to help get the Hill to support it.”
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