Environmental conditions demand high-tech cooling

The air conditioning industry is under constant pressure to deal with extreme weather and ‘green’ standards. Didier Hardouin, vice president and GM of Trane, explains the complexities of cooling the Palm Jumeirah.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  June 10, 2006

|~|125int200.gif|~|Hardouin claims that Trane’s condensing units will last longer in the corrosive saline atmosphere of the Palm Jumeirah, due to their aluminium coils.|~|What is your involvement in Nakheel’s Palm Jumeirah?

We signed a contract with Nakheel on 1 April 2005 to supply Trane’s condensing units to 1,400 residential villas that are being built on the shoreline fronds of the development.

What are the specific challenges of supplying air conditioning units to this type of environment?

From a technical point of view, Nakheel needed residential air conditioning units that could handle the saline and corrosive atmosphere.

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals in close proximity to one another are exposed to a conducting fluid (such as salt spray). The two metals then act as a battery in which one metal sacrifices itself to the other.

The more dissimilar the metals are, copper and aluminium, for example, the greater the potential for corrosion, which may in turn harm the air conditioning unit.

What type of units are you providing in order to satisfy these technical requirements?

The system we are supplying is known as a Trane condensing unit. It is particularly suited to an environment such as the Palm because the condenser coil is 100% aluminium, whereas most of the conventional coils are copper and aluminium.

Corrosion is also known to attack the screws on the units so we have coated the screw heads with ceramic. This is common for all the residential projects that we supply that are close to the sea.

What tests do you carry out on the units to ensure they can withstand this environment?

The outer powder paint is tested for the saline fog that can accumulate near a seashore environment. The air is loaded with salt that comes from the sea. It hits the unit for around 1,000 hours to test the resistance of the material to see if any corrosion points start to appear on the outside of the units.

How easy is it to maintain these units?

That’s another advantage of the system — it is much easier to clean when compared with normal condensers.

Maintenance-wise it is important to keep the coils and cabinet clean of salt build-up, so the unit’s active component has been considered during the design stage in terms of how to access the system easily.

In an environment such as this you also have to be careful of sand getting trapped between the aluminium foils and the tubes. The coil is protected by the unit’s body, which has louvres slanting upwards to help prevent sand from getting inside.

Is this a new product on the market?

It is a unique product from Trane and we have the patent for it. But our system has a proven track record here —we’ve been selling it for the past 20 years throughout the saline environment of the Gulf and it has been used on villas at Jumeirah Lake Towers, for example.

Where else are these units found?

In Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean, as well as in Salalah in Oman, which is known to have a particularly corrosive environment.

What is the average life span for these units?

At Trane we say our units are built to last, whereas if you
put a traditional condensing unit into an area like this by the sea, in five or six years’ time you are likely to see some corrosion appear.

Does the saline atmosphere of the Palm affect district cooling as well?

It’s not that critical an issue as far as the district cooling market is concerned because the equipment is in a closed
environment and is protected. However the individual units
in the villas, for example, are exposed to the saline atmosphere.

Are there any other conditions that pose a challenge to the supply of air conditioning units to the Gulf market?

There is also the combination of the heat and humidity — all in all I think we find some of the most challenging weather conditions in the world here.

One of the big issues in air conditioning is the efficiency of a system. How does Trane ensure its AC units are environmentally friendly?

It is important to consider the energy costs for the future and we would like to see a growth in the market for energy efficiency. Air conditioning units should be designed so they consume less energy. The energy problem is more of an issue in other parts of the world, whereas here it is maybe not as high on the agenda.

The Trane condensing unit lasts longer so it is replaced less frequently, which therefore consumes less resources i.e. materials and energy during the manufacturing process.

In addition, Trane’s all-aluminium coil retains its integrity over many years, and in doing so, continues to be effective and efficient long after other coils have lost their ability to perform. Once again, this reduces the lifetime consumption of energy.||**||

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