Air Conditioning and the planet – a balancing act
Air conditioning as an industry rightfully comes under pressure due to the refrigerant gases we use in our products. The unique properties of these gases mean they can absorb and reject heat easily and therefore be used to provide temperature management, not just for people, but for equipment that help the world function. There are life-saving and game-changing technologies in our day-to-day lives that require refrigeration and air conditioning to enable them to function properly.
For example, life-saving vaccinations need to be kept at specific temperatures to be effective; without them whole communities would suffer. Hospital equipment has to be cooled in order for it to work properly and across the world, surgeons rely on air conditioning systems to be able to do their jobs safely and effectively. Perishable foods are kept much longer without contamination and can be transported to areas that need it, due to effective refrigeration.
You rely on air conditioning more than you think. The phone in your pocket allows you to connect with people all over the world via social media and messaging apps. Airedale specialise in data centre cooling and every time you tweet, post a picture to Instagram, arrange to meet your friends on Facebook or send an e-mail, that data has to be stored somewhere that relies on air conditioning to stop the servers (the physical location data is stored) from overheating.
That said, many refrigerants are greenhouse gases that, if released into the atmosphere, contribute towards global warming. The European F-Gas directive, adopted by the European Union to phase-down the usage of refrigerants which have a high Global Warming Potential (GWP), is something we agree wholeheartedly with and have taken a proactive stance towards.
Airedale International take our environmental responsibilities seriously. For several years we have focused a large proportion our R&D resource on moving towards suitable replacements for refrigerants gases such as R410a and R134a. This development work started before the current F-gas regulations were introduced and started forcing the wider industry’s hand. This has helped create a level playing field in some respects but also helps us as a proactive business stay one step ahead. In 2014 we were one of the first companies to release a chiller with a R134a replacement (TurboChill range with R1234ze) and now in 2019 we are ready to launch our R410A replacement chillers, the Ultima and DeltaChill ranges, both with R32 refrigerant.
Prevention is the best medicine however and Airedale are also committed to using products that use less refrigerant gas and by employing technologies that ensure these gases do not reach the atmosphere. Our factory is state-of-the art and the way we store and use gas is tightly regulated and controlled. We use smaller cooling coils called microchannels and use spray techniques in order to reduce the amount of gas we need to put in our products. We also try to minimise the amount of brazed joints in our pipework to reduce the risk of leaks occurring. We also offer leak detection systems and pump down facilities as standard that, should the worst occur, alert the equipment owner so mitigation can take place.
Airedale are known throughout the industry as a company that always tries to push the boundaries of technology. We invest a large proportion of our profits back into research & development and in recent years this has been focussed on producing products that are more energy efficient and which use lower amounts of refrigerants that are better for the environment. We are not at a state of utopia just yet, but we are getting there. And we will continue to work towards getting there.
Air conditioning is now a vital part of our day-to-day lives, we cannot function as a society without it. As a responsible corporate citizen, Airedale is committed to ensuring that the industry continues to support our day-to-day lives without harming the planet.