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Investing in our Future - An interview with AIRAH 2014 Student of the Year

Heatcraft Australia is a proud sponsor of the AIRAH Awards. In 2014, Heatcraft sponsored the Student of the Year category. Winner, Matthew Web shared his insights into the future of HVAC&R.

What is biomimicry and what lead you to specialise in this area?

Biomimicry, from Greek "bios" (meaning life) and "mimesis" (to imitate) is innovation inspired by nature. It offers designers - in all fields of human endeavour - innovation opportunities to develop new products, processes and systems in a more sustainable way. By studying natural adaptions in great detail, humanity has the opportunity to learn new or alternative strategies in all aspects of human technology. With the rapid development in the biological sciences – particularly in microbiology and genetics – there is an ever-growing body of knowledge from which to gather new ideas. The scope for identifying biological inspiration to solve design problems is virtually limitless.

There are three key requirements to effectively applying biomimicry to building engineering innovation. Firstly, both the design problem and its biological solution must be well defined and understood. Secondly, a suitable characteristic, species or ecosystem must be identified that will enhance the performance. Thirdly, a viable process is required to successfully translate ideas from the natural world to the technological domain. Architecture has taken inspiration from the natural world from its very beginnings. Recently, however, much of the recent focus has been either on aesthetic appeal or directly applying living elements to buildings, such as green walls. Alternatively, I am focussed on functional biomimicry, which practices a translation of biological characteristics to building design – and not necessarily the formal aesthetics. Functional biomimicry aims to understand nature in detail so that the physical, chemical or material essence can be abstracted to the technological domain. By reverse engineering biology in this way, functional biomimicry can play a critical role in improving building performance and occupant comfort.

I suppose that was the attraction of biomimicry for me - alternative solutions and new ideas for building design already exist if we could study and perceive the natural world in a different way. I have always had an interest in the natural world too, and the possibility to combine a study of nature with sustainable design was too good an opportunity to pass up.

We see you are focussing on building facade design. What changes are you advocating here?

There are plenty of opportunities to improve upon existing facade design, which tends - at times - to focus on the aesthetics and has been somewhat isolated from the rest of the building services. In actuality, building facades play a critical role in achieving the desired Indoor Environment Quality desired by occupants while also improving building energy efficiency. In other words, I'm advocating better integration between design disciplines and a more holistic design approach when it comes to facades. I think this is becoming more recognised within the industry. In biomimetic terms, the surface area of an animal isn't designed independent of its heart and blood vessels - they are suitably sized and balanced to provide nutrients to all of the animal's skin as well as adequate cooling and heating abilities to cope with temperature extremes.

When speaking about biomimicry specifically, we can observe the efficiency and effectiveness of skins in nature, which present a vast array of different interfaces that can provide inspiration for new facade ideas. Additionally, natural skins in nature are reactive and adaptive - they do not present one single set of constant properties to the external environment. Skin is a key component in human thermoregulation and acts as the heat transfer interface to the external thermal environment. If the brain’s hypothalamus detects excessive heat gain, sweating begins, promoting evaporation. Hairs flatten against the skin, and warm blood flow to vessels beneath the skin surface (vasodilation) maximises radiant heat transfer. If we can efficiently mimic these characteristics for a building skin, we can design buildings that are more comfortable for occupants and reduce environmental impact at the same time.

The PIXEL building in Melbourne is pretty special. What was your involvement on this project?

The PIXEL building (shown below) is indeed special and represents a state of the art example of what can be achieved in sustainable design with holistic design approach and a willingness to embrace new and innovative technologies. PIXEL achieved a maximum score in Green Star and a LEED platinum rating - the highest score for a new building. I was involved through the design process, working in particular on the energy and daylight assessments with our Sustainability director, Shane Esmore. We tested various options and configurations using simulation software and also calculated the buildings' operational energy consumption, as well as assessing the impact and effectiveness of the original architectural shading design (by Studio 505).

You've done a lot of research, what have been your key findings?

I have done some research - but the industry changes all the time so there is always more to learn! In terms of sustainable design - if we look at the natural world I think we have come some way but there are still challenges (and opportunities) ahead. Nature is inherently self-sustaining and regenerative. Nature runs on sunlight, never follows a linear path of consumption, uses only the energy it needs, curbs excesses and relies on diversity. Even if we partially followed those principles it would move design in the built environment far further down a sustainable path.

With specific reference to my PhD, I've managed to design a type of building facade that mimics animal skin. Tested with mathematical simulations, I've shown that fur can be an effective, lightweight insulator when applied to the exterior of buildings. Fur can also be adaptive by extending and flattening to change it's insulation capability. It can rotate to better capture or block sunlight, depending on the whether cooling or heating is required. Furthermore, I've been able to adapt and translate the principles of heat transfer in living tissue (bioheat transfer) to building facades. Again, simulations have shown that the biomimetic facade can be an effective method to cool (and heat) buildings and maintain thermal comfort, roughly equivalent to hydronic systems. Adding a layer of external fur is a further improvement. This studies exemplify how biomimetic concepts can be modelled and simulated to assess thermal performance and occupant thermal comfort.

Lennox expanded Chiller range

Heatcraft Australia has just expanded their range of energy efficient commercial chillers with the introduction of Lennox Aqua4 Polyvalent Air Cooled Chiller and Heat Pump.

“A market comparison has shown that the Lennox Aqua4 is on average 13% more energy efficient than equivalent competitor models for cooling and up to 4dBA quieter than any other 4 pipe system in the Australian and New Zealand market”, commented Mark Esdaile, Heatcraft HVAC Business Manager.

The Lennox Aqua4 is a cost effective alternative to VRF systems that offers simultaneous or independent heating and cooling from the one system. It is especially suited to commercial buildings, hospitals, hotels and public buildings that require different zoning and load requirements.

“The simultaneous demand for heating and cooling during the year is increasingly common. Today’s commercial buildings often include areas dedicated to different functions and have high variable heat loads enhanced by large glass windows.”

The simultaneous and independent cooling and heating is achieved by the use of two independent refrigerant circuits connected by 4 hydraulic pipes. These units are able to satisfy the demand for hot and cold water simultaneously through a system that does not require adjustment due to seasonal loading and is therefore a valid alternative to traditional air conditioning plants with chiller and boiler.

Heating and cooling needs are constantly being balanced to maximise total efficiency of the unit to achieve desired temperatures across the entire circuit, regardless of demand. High efficiency scroll compressors and high efficiency insulated braze plate heat exchangers contribute to the high EER’s. The innovative fan blade design optimises airflow, while low noise versions can be specified which include a fully soundproofed technical casing and low speed on the fan.

Selecting an Aqua4 on your next project can also deliver capital cost savings to the property owner. The need for separate heating and cooling solutions is eliminated, which not only reduces plant size, but also reduces installation time, refrigerant and insulation costs. Ongoing facility management is also simplified.

The Aqua4 can operate in extreme ambient conditions, ranging from -15°C to 45°C. Cooling capacity ranges from 50 to 320 kW, with heating capacity from of 50 to 340 kW.

In addition to the Aqua 4, Heatcraft also range highly efficient Lennox Neosys and Ecolean Chillers. "We understand customers are after reliability and quality” continued Mark. All Neosys and Ecolean Chillers are delivered from our European facilities that conduct extended qualification tests to ensure superior reliability.”

The Neosys chillers incorporate the latest multi-scroll Copeland compressors well-known for their solid reliability and high performance. Neosys also uses a specific and exclusive fan motor design with hybrid ceramic bearings to extend the service life of the motors. Full aluminium coils in cooling versions mean that the units can be installed in light corrosive or seacoast environments without any need for additional pre-treated fins or coil coating.

In a water system, the pump is one of the main energy consumption items. The energy costs of pumping can represent more than 20% of the total energy cost of a chiller. Lennox have addressed this with their eDrive™ variable speed pump technology, present in both Neosys and Ecolean. At full load, eDrive™ automatically controls energy costs via an electronic adjustment of the pump curve. At partial load eDrive™ automatically reduces the chiller pump speed. During shutdown periods, the chiller operates at minimum speed and on starting eDrive™ acts as a soft starter minimising start-up current.

“Customers no longer need to make the choice between a high efficiency version, a low noise or an ultra-low noise version. Neosys can adapt all situations with only one version”, concluded Mark. The Active Acoustic Attenuation System™ uses an electronic control associated with variable speed fans. Neosys can automatically change the speed of all the fans – from 0% to 100% of the nominal air flow – to meet the building load requirements while being noise compliant.

For more information contact on any of the Chillers form the Lennox range, contact your Heatcraft Representative on 13 23 50.

Project Quoting Assistance

Kirby equipment users are enjoying greater convenience and improved confidence with smart@ccess.

The online portal developed by Heatcraft Australia takes the guesswork out of project quoting by enabling the user to perform heat load calculations and then compile a complete project component list with pricing. Business owners can confidently ensure the accuracy of their costing before submitting a tender.

Users can have engineering detail verified by a Heatcraft technical representative. This process allows orders to be quickly placed saving time submitting the order at a later date.

Specifiers and contractors seeking confident equipment selections can download a complete selection report detailing balanced performance and operating parameters.

“The project tool with heat load calculator replaces the extremely well regarded ‘Kirby Select’ as a future proof tool that provides confidence to contractors installing the Kirby range of products”, commented Brett Hedge, Refrigeration Equipment Business Manager for Heatcraft Australia. “It is web based so it’s up to date, user friendly and optimised for mobile applications, so ideal for on-site use.”

Smart@ccess project tools are exclusive to Heatcraft Australia and can be accessed via the Heatcraft website. Customers requesting access can contact Heatcraft on 13 23 50.

A mobilised team of Field Engineers

Heatcraft Australia is uniquely positioned with an experienced and specialised team of Field Engineers across Australia and New Zealand to work with the contractor or consultant to deliver optimal project solutions for them and the end user.

Recent organisational changes at Heatcraft mean that this team is now mobilised and available to travel, where practical with the contractor to discuss options with the property owner. Whether it’s a new equipment installation or upgrade to include VSD or EC fans, the Heatcraft Field Engineers have the knowledge in both refrigeration and HVAC to deliver the best outcome for all parties.

Our Field Engineers are often involved in projects from planning to completion, also offering trouble shooting assistance, pre and post commissioning support.

One recent example is where Heatcraft Field Engineer, Stephen Spiers, worked with customer Arctic Refrigeration on a retrofit of R438A into an existing R22 semi-hermetic refrigeration system that had been operating on a South Australian dairy farm. A substantial leak had occurred on the condenser and the plant had lost approximately 100kg of refrigerant.

Stephen was on hand to offer advice in the way of the oil return. “Oil return is determined by a number of operating and design conditions. Field experience has shown that ISCEON® MO99™ will work with the existing mineral oil in most systems#. In this instance we recommended that some of the mineral oil be removed from the system and an equivalent amount of Polyol ester lubricant (POE) replace it. The system has been operating efficiently since”.

With approximately 140kg of R22 required, the refrigerant alone could have resulted in a cost to the customer well in excess of $20,000 to rectify the situation via replenishment alone. Through this successful retrofit, substantial refrigerant savings were passed onto the property owner.

Technical support doesn’t stop with the Heatcraft Field Engineers. As a benefit of doing business with Heatcraft, customers can also call the Heatcraft Technical Excellence Centre (TEC) anytime from 6am to 7pm AEST, Monday to Friday for product and quoting assistance. The Heatcraft TEC can be contacted by calling 1800 132 350.

# Minor system modifications (e.g. seal replacement) or expansion device adjustments may be required in some applications. Refer to the “DuPont™ ISCEON® Retrofit Guidelines For DuPont™ ISCEON® M099™ (R438A) Refrigerant”. For further information, visit

Kirby - From Strength to Strength

The Kirby brand has a heritage that many OEM’s would be proud of. Over 70 years strong, it has stood the test of time and survived in a changing industry that is becoming increasingly saturated with ‘copycat’, low cost alternatives.

For Heatcraft, the secret behind the successful longevity is the commitment to deliver consistently reliable, quality, fully-featured innovative product solutions that perform year after year.

These days the Kirby brand delivers an unsurpassed range of precisely engineered refrigeration solutions specifically for Australia, New Zealand and nearby territories. It continues to be empowered by Heatcraft local manufacturing and product development, supported by the global resources of Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration and Lennox International.

“The diversity of engineered to order and customised product being designed and assembled at the Heatcraft Milperra site, is testament to our capability”, commented Brett Hedge (Refrigeration Equipment Business Manager, at Heatcraft Australia). “We are producing innovative, compressorised Kirby rack systems and customised solutions that offer maximum system efficiency through advanced compressor technologies”.

Heatcraft Australia recently designed a unique Kirby refrigeration rack system with Dave Redden of Refrigeration Innovations P/L for use at a Victorian supermarket. “A partnership with Emerson Australia provided the opportunity to develop the racks with Copeland digital compressor technologies and sound shells to the high stage (medium temperature) compressors”, continued Brett.

“The system which was completely designed and manufactured by the engineering and production teams at Milperra is an example of the design and innovation available in the Kirby rack range through Heatcraft Australia.”

Other unique Kirby solutions being manufactured at the Milperra site include central plant HVAC packs, water cooled semi-hermetic condensing units, high efficiency integrated VSD solutions and rack systems complete with integral switchboard and control systems.

Heatcraft Australia’s primary manufacturing facility is located in Wuxi, China. “All Heatcraft Australia product manufactured at Wuxi is designed in Australia to Australian and New Zealand standards”, said Brett. The manufacturing facility is wholly owned and operated by Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration; the engineering, manufacturing and quality assessment is certified to ISO9001 and controls are in strict compliance with International and Australian standards. The facility has the ability to performance test refrigeration systems of up to 200kW capacity.

With the growth of the Lennox International and Heatcraft Refrigeration Product global operations, the Lennox India Technology Centre (LITC) was expanded in 2014. LITC supports the Heatcraft Milperra Product Development and Research team with robust design and analysis capabilities, including; Computer Aided Design (CAD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) during the various stages of the product development life cycle.

Whilst the local Heatcraft Australia engineering and product development team has its own testing capabilities, it is also well supported by the recently expanded testing facilities at Stone Mountain in the U.S. The Stone Mountain high tech facility includes a global laboratory and allows for more robust equipment and complete systems testing using realistic environmental conditions. This ensures products are designed to the highest quality standards and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Heatcraft has also invested locally to support customers using Kirby products. The company continues to invest in its account management, field support and the wholesale network and notably recently opened the Technical Excellence Centre to support the one step distribution capabilities. The Technical Excellence Centre is unique to the HVAC&R industry and is manned by a team of experienced Sales and Application Engineers with over 100 years of combined experience. Heatcraft also offer their customers smart selection tools via smart@ccess free of charge and can offer payback calculators to assist with product specification and identifying best solutions for end users.

Recognising a growing customer need, Heatcraft Australia has also appointed Field Engineers whom are available to assist with specific project engineering needs as well as pre and post commissioning to ensure each projects success and customer satisfaction.

To engage a Kirby specialist for your next project, contact Heatcraft Australia on 13 23 50.