Energy Saving Tech Takes To The Floor

Specialist engineers at Hampshire-based Aqua Group have transformed the floor panel manufacturing process for a leading flooring company after routine maintenance sparked the bespoke design of an innovative, energy-saving cooling solution.

Leading manufacturer of commercial floor coverings Polyflor, part of the James Halstead group, has installed Aqua’s new air-blast pre-cooler in its Stockton-on-Tees plant.

According to Aqua’s engineer Joe Konarski, Aqua’s new ground-breaking chiller system is likely to save Polyflor a minimum of £11,000 a year in reduced operating costs and energy savings and will bring added environmental benefits, not least by making the most of the free cooling capacities inherent in the new system.

Joe Konarski said:“Polyflor’s previous cooling process was under-performing because of damage caused by contaminated water particles in the old system’s evaporator so, when considering this problem, we realised we could devise an entirely new tailor-made cooling system for Polyflor that would be altogether more efficient and reliable.”

“Rather than simply being satisfied with a quick-fix or a temporary solution, we wanted to create a new solution altogether, one that would both benefit the client financially and provide an energy-efficient and environmentally-friendlier alternative.”

“The new system we designed for Polyflor currently cools the manufacturing process for one of the company’s flooring ranges — now we are adapting the new Aqua technology for use across Polyflor’s product range, effectively future-proofing our system for the benefit of this client and, potentially, other manufacturers employing similar process techniques,” added Joe.

Aqua’s design features an automatic ambient air pre-cooling system which massively reduces the refrigerated chiller compressor load in low ambient air temperatures. Over a year this reduces chiller electrical usage by approximately 65 per cent. When ambient temperatures are less than 8°C, the chiller compressors are de-activated, allowing Polyflor to benefit from complete free cooling.

The system design not only saves compressor energy but also reduces the mechanical load on the chillers, reducing on-going maintenance costs and enhancing the life-span of the equipment.

In addition, high-efficiency plate heat exchangers were also installed to allow the chillers and air-blast system to work on an independent ‘clean’ circuit. This is instrumental in avoiding a recurrence of the original operational problems affecting Polyflor’s Stockton-on-Tees cooling process where damage was caused by contaminated water particles in the system’s evaporators.