Growth of geothermal heat pump market

Sales of energy-efficient heat pumps for homes and businesses continue to rise as consumers seek out HVAC equipment that cost less to operate and has a minimal environmental impact. Most heat pumps transfer heat between the outside air and the building interior. As outside air temperatures drop in the winter, the atmosphere holds less heat that can be used to heat the inside of the building. Therefore, the lack of heat energy in the atmosphere during the winter makes air-to-air heat pumps ineffective in the coldest parts of the country. However, ground-source heat pumps (GSHP’s), also called geothermal heat pumps, are systems that do not depend on the air temperature for heat transfer.

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Heat Exchanger and Boiler Maintenance: Chemical Descaling

Have you ever ironed a pair of dark pants only to have small white flakes fall out of the iron’s steam holes and make white streaks across your clothes? This is especially a problem in older irons that have never been cleaned. Your iron is in many ways like a commercial steam boiler. After a long time making steam, a boiler can clog up with white flakes and get trapped in the boiler system. This white buildup in both the steam iron and the boiler is a layer of calcium and other minerals called scale, or sometimes limescale. As the water evaporates, the minerals in the water don’t turn into steam when the machine is in use; they are left behind to form scale inside the equipment.

As annoying as those little white flakes are for your dark pants, imagine what those deposits do to the heating elements of large industrial equipment like boilers and heat exchangers. On some equipment, the scale buildup can be inches thick. An inch, or even a much thinner layer of scale is more than an annoyance, it’s a serious maintenance problem that diminishes system efficiency, reduces heat transfer, and increases operating costs. Just like maintaining and cleaning your steam iron, facility managers have to do the same for their heat exchangers and boilers.

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Ammonia, the “New Thing” in Refrigerants?

“Tomorrow was created yesterday” penned British author John le Carre’ confirming the old saying that “History repeats itself”.  The HVAC industry is seeing the technologies of yesterday presented as new and what was once considered old-school, is now seen as the future. Consider, for example, the resurgence of ammonia as a refrigerant.

The Global Cold Chain Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates for companies involved in the temperature-controlled food industry, had an article on their website entitled “Ammonia: The Refrigerant of the Future”.  A similar article in the NEWS noted that ammonia-based refrigerants remain on the list of possible refrigerants of the future.”  Apparently, ammonia is the “new thing” in refrigerants, maybe “the next best thing”.

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How to Future Proof Your Facility Management Career

Someday your facility’s cooling tower may be queued up to follow an automatic preventive maintenance program and actually self-clean in an effort to boost efficiencies and decrease unplanned repair costs. Cool, right? Well, there’s a growing concern within many industries that “automation” is synonymous with “job loss.”

According to a recent McKinsey & Co. analysis of 2,000 different work activities across 800 occupations, automation will change virtually every job in every occupation. Specifically, McKinsey found that in about 60% of occupations, 30% of tasks could be handed over to robots and bots. Bad news for your career, right? … Think again.

The report concludes less than 5% of global occupations will be fully automated using current technology. The remaining 95% will simply change to account for advancements in technology, connectivity and automation.

Here’s a handful of facility manager skills that’ll be in high demand due, for the most part, by these advancements.

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Why Chiller Efficiency and Maintenance are Key Facility Investments

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-11-21-30-amTypically, a chiller is the single largest consumer of power and most expensive piece of equipment in a building, so it’s logical to allocate time and budget towards energy efficiency and equipment maintenance.

Without routine chiller maintenance, energy usage can double in just a few years and components can fail early, causing service interruptions. Poor maintenance procedures also lead to declining equipment reliability, the service life of a chiller can be reduced by 25% to 50%, according to an article in Facilitiesnet.com.

“While many managers look to chiller retrofits, system add-ons, or even replacements to improve efficiency, many overlook the single most important factor in determining both chiller efficiency and reliability: maintenance,” according to the article.

Chiller system efficiency is also a worthwhile investment because for every $1 facility managers invest in chiller maintenance, they can “expect a return of $10 dollars in the form of reduced operating costs and fewer breakdown maintenance repairs,” the article notes.

There are several chiller tube cleaning methods. One method is chemical cleaning, where a chemical solution – an acid, in some cases – is circulated through the chiller to clean the tubes.

An alternative method is a mechanical approach. Some manual chiller tube cleaning methods involve pushing a brush through each tube, then flushing afterward. However, the residue left after the brush is pushed through may dry on the surface before flushing, and the subsequent water flush will not remove it.

Another mechanical cleaning system rotates a cleaning brush or buffing tool attached to a motorized flexible shaft through the chiller tube while water-flushing the tube at the same time. The advantages of this system are that the tubes are given a thorough scouring and the simultaneous water flush allows the tubes to be completely cleaned before they dry.

By performing regular maintenance of chiller systems, facilities can decrease energy costs, extend operational efficiency, reduce power loads as well as save money on labor, equipment, and other associated costs.

A maintenance program for chillers also helps a facility with its sustainable goals by extending the life of the HVAC system and reducing energy consumption.

The best time to do regular chiller maintenance is in the winter or early spring when the chiller systems are not in use. To prevent the buildup of scale and sediment you must maintain the chiller tubes according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Next Steps:

• Download our HVAC Preventive Maintenance Checklist.
• Learn how Goodway can help extend the efficiency and operation of chiller systems.

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