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Blockbusting with HVAC

Written by  Author |   Sun, 03 May 2015 08:08


In the most general sense, air conditioning is the technology of modifying the condition of air (heating, cooling, (de-)humidification, cleaning, ventilation, or air movement). Nevertheless, in construction, such a complete system of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is referred to as HVAC.

The air conditioning market in the GCC states and in Qatar is irrevocably tied to the construction market. In a region where temperatures soar to 50 degrees Celsius during the summer, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry plays a critical role in the region’s construction sector. HVAC is expected to see a 9% average annual growth rate in 2015 and beyond.

According to research from a UK-based testing, instrumentation, research and consultancy organization, the Building Services Research and Information Association, the HVAC sector will grow by 6% in Qatar and 10% Saudi Arabia annually.

Although industry numbers are hard to come by, there are literally thousands of players in the region’s HVAC market. The international players from China and Korea dominate the residential decorative split market. The Japanese, Korean and Chinese players dominate the variable refrigerant flow (VRF) market, while the Saudi manufacturers dominate the window A/C and the package A/C market. The Americans dominate the chiller market for large projects and district cooling plants.

Global manufacturers Johnson Controls, Trane, Daikin McQuay, and United Technologies-Carrier Corp. represent more than 80% of the commercial market. Local players, such as Zamil, Golden Star and SKM, represent the balance of the market. In the residential market, there are substantially more players, including manufacturers from Asia, Europe, America, as well as local players from the region. The list includes Mitsubishi, Carrier, LG, Aftron, and Samsung, Voltas, Sinco and others as the leading players in the residential segment.

Some history

The first modern electrical air conditioning unit was invented in 1902, by Willis Carrier in New York. Designed to improve manufacturing process control in a printing plant, Carrier's invention controlled not only temperature but also humidity. Carrier used his knowledge of the heating of objects with steam and reversed the process. In 1915 he and several partners formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation, which they dedicated to improving the technology of air conditioning. Among the key innovations was a more efficient centrifugal compressor, which Carrier used in the air conditioners he installed in Detroit's J. L. Hudson Department Store in 1924, the first department store so equipped. Office buildings soon followed.

In 1933, the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America developed an air conditioner using a belt-driven condensing unit and associated blower, mechanical controls, and evaporator coil, and this device became the model in the growing market for air-cooling systems.

However, the first private home to have air conditioning was built in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1933. Realizing that air conditioning would one day be a standard feature of private homes, particularly in regions with warmer climate, David St. Pierre DuBose (1898-1994) designed a network of ductwork and vents for his home Meadowmont, all disguised behind intricate and attractive Georgian-style open moldings. This building is believed to be one of the first private homes in the United States equipped for central air conditioning.

Today’s air conditioners, while operating on the same fundamental science as Carrier’s 1933 system, incorporate advancements in vapor compression, diagnostics and controls, electronic sensors, materials, and energy efficiency.

Mechanical refrigeration for air conditioning relies on a closed system in which a refrigerant—basically a compound of elements with a low boiling point—circulates through sets of coils that absorb and dissipate heat as the refrigerant is alternately compressed and allowed to expand. In an air conditioner, coils containing refrigerant draw heat and moisture from room air.

The first air-conditioners were bulky, produced huge noises and gave out toxic chemicals too. These toxins namely, ammonia, methyl chloride and propane, were inflammable and when leaked were fatal. In 1928, an air-conditioner was built using Freon which was considered much safer for humans though it was hazardous for the environment. Thomas Midgley was the inventor. 
 
Air-conditioners were a luxury limited to rich society but that was only in the early 1930s and 1940s. Slowly with steady steps, Air-conditioning walked into the corporate world and demanded that employees be provided with the comfort of ACs. The wave of air-conditioning spread world-wide and by 1957, most of the offices had air-conditioners installed. The bulky ACs disappeared and modern ones are noiseless with fewer chemical emissions.

HVAC

Mainly in construction, a complete system of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning referred to as HVAC is used.

HVAC is the technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort. Its goal is to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. HVAC is important in the design of medium to large industrial and office buildings such as skyscrapers and in marine environments such as aquariums, where safe and healthy building conditions are regulated with respect to temperature and humidity, using fresh air from outdoors.
In modern buildings the design, installation, and control systems of these functions are integrated into one or more HVAC systems. For very small buildings, contractors normally estimate the capacity, engineer, and select HVAC systems and equipment. For larger buildings, building service designers, mechanical engineers, or building services engineers analyze, design, and specify the HVAC systems. Specialty mechanical contractors then fabricate and commission the systems. Building permits and code-compliance inspections of the installations are normally required for all sizes of buildings.

Although HVAC is executed in individual buildings or other enclosed spaces, the equipment involved is in some cases an extension of a larger district heating (DH) or district cooling (DC) network, or a combined DHC network. In such cases, the operating and maintenance aspects are simplified and metering becomes necessary to bill for the energy that is consumed, and in some cases energy that is returned to the larger system. For example, at a given time one building may be utilizing chilled water for air conditioning and the warm water it returns may be used in another building for heating, or for the overall heating-portion of the DHC network (likely with energy added to boost the temperature).

The HVAC industry is seeing innovation in fields such as air conditioner equipment, building systems integration and building automation and energy management. New compressor developments have drastically improved the air conditioner’s energy efficiency and cooling capability, which is very important given the Middle East’s harsh conditions and substantial cooling needs. Other changes include integration of the various systems present in a building (HVAC, security, fire alarms, communications, internet, etc.), which helps save construction costs and allows efficient facilities management. Also, control systems are adopting cloud-computing strategies to offer flexible and accessible monitoring and operations of buildings.

An important trend is the wider acceptance of VRF systems, particularly in local villa projects as well as the ECM fan coil units in hotels and high-end projects due to their higher efficiencies, low noise and communications. A recent industry report from the building technologies practice of international research and consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan indicate that VRF systems are likely to be a major segment of the HVAC market in the immediate to mid-term future due to the introduction of digital scroll and inverter technology, and that the HVAC industry is shifting its focus to advanced/ sustainable air conditioning systems from simple/ traditional air conditioning systems.








 

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