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Pumping life into the market – energy efficiency

What can the HVAC pumps market expect in 2016? Players from the sector try to answer the question, and also share their views on the importance of flow-rate, pressure loss and operating costs, vis-à-vis the selection of pumps for HVAC applications.

| | Apr 21, 2016 | 1:03 pm
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Pietro Moro, Building Services Manager – MENA at Xylem

Pietro Moro, Building Services Manager – MENA at Xylem

How much is the pumps market worth in the Middle East region? What is the market outlook? Difficult questions, these, even in the best of times, they elicit elusive answers when the times are uncertain. Braving the queries, Pietro Moro, Building Services Manager – MENA at Xylem, estimates the pumps market in the MENA region to be worth around USD 2 billion, annually. He says that the Middle East is a rapidly growing and diverse region with an increasing need for innovative water technology solutions.

“Mega trends, such as population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and water scarcity, will continue to drive investments in infrastructure and, thereby, pumps for various end-markets and applications,” says Moro. He adds: “Current market conditions withstanding, we anticipate a healthy market growth this year, although slightly stifled by the low oil price environment. We are optimistic, because regulations and end-users will continue to drive the in pumps and reduce related lifecycle costs.”

Succinctly summing up the challenges in the sector, Ahmed Saber Ghonim, Sales Manager Utility at DESMI Middle East, says, “Awareness among project developers and consultants about the new global energy-saving directive, new compact design, free maintenance and reliable performance of hydraulic centrifugal pump designs are mostly the challenges we are facing in 2016.”

Pumping EXPO 2020

How does the mega event drive the market? The experts answer…

Ahmed Saber Ghonim, Sales Manager Utility, DESMI Middle East:
“The great fair of EXPO 2020 will be hosted by Dubai for the first time in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. All developers, especially in the commercial segment, are looking for this event as an opportunity to accommodate new trading and hosting facility. The government is eagerly preparing for this global event by building new communities, roads as well as airports.”

Pietro Moro, Building Services Manager – MENA, Xylem:
“EXPO 2020 marks the first time the Expo will be held in the Middle East. We look forward to representing the Middle East and demonstrating to the world the Middle East’s can-do attitude. We are confident that it will be a catalyst for economic, cultural and social transformation for Dubai.

“The business community will benefit by the opportunities related to the infrastructure that will be developed, thereby creating job opportunities and economic welfare. As ‘sustainability’ is one of the key sub-themes of the EXPO, the water-energy nexus has really been brought to the forefront of issues that need to be confronted with innovative solutions. More than 70% of the overall water production and processing costs in the UAE result from the energy required to desalinate, transport, store, forward and distribute water. Hence, we believe that in addition to highlighting the importance and need for energy-efficient water solutions, the EXPO will be a stage for countries and companies to gather and forge partnerships to find solutions to these important issues.”

Heart of the matter

Considering that the pumps market is huge, there’s no debate about whether pumps play a critical role in HVAC applications. “Until a few years ago, pumps were considered the ‘heart’ of HVAC systems, in the sense that ‘pumps move the fluid’, as in the human body,” says Moro. “And while different components of these systems faced important modifications a long time ago, centrifugal pumps were only improved on design and materials.” He adds that the implementation of new energy-efficiency regulations led many manufacturers to need to optimise energy efficiency introduce new components and technologies. “A paramount improvement,” he says, “was the implementation of pump controllers, known as Variable Frequency Drive (VFD).” He explains: “Standard pumps run always at a constant speed. So it is necessary to install several types of valves to control the water flow through the system. While these valves help increase or decrease the temperature as needed, the amount of energy used by standard pumps will always remain the same, resulting in energy loss. VFDs control the pumps’ operational speed all over a wide range of flow demands, representing a significant reduction in energy consumption.”

VFDs are the core components for building automation, says Moro. “Through a communication bus, the data of the pump and its sensors can be integrated into the HVAC system, where the software monitors the operating conditions and identifies optimal parameters to meet the building demands,” Moro elaborates. “This makes it possible to detect any alarms coming from the pump itself, preventing technical issues that could turn into disruptions.” Moro says that if pumps are considered the “heart”, then VFDs can be considered the “brain” in modern HVAC systems, as they help save energy, ensure reliability and, ultimately, deliver cost-savings to the customer.

Ghonim agrees with Moro, and adds: “If there is no pumped cold water at required quality of head and flow, the HVAC system is simply non-functional. Pumping cold water into HVAC systems is important to keep the temperature controlled at a suitable environment. In industries, HVAC systems are also crucial to keep production machines away from overheating. Many production processes depend basically on cooling or heating water in their facility to get the final product.”

Flow-rate, pressure loss and operating cost

Ahmed Saber Ghonim, Sales Manager Utility at DESMI Middle East

Ahmed Saber Ghonim, Sales Manager Utility at DESMI Middle East

In order to get a good final product, Ghonim believes that controlling the flow-rate and head of cold water at the exact certain level according to the required cooling load will ensure the most cost-efficient operation. He gives an example: “The cooling load will vary from day to night time, to the number of people, the number of working machines and the controlled area. It will also vary from season to season, according to the sun’s direction and weather conditions of temperate and humidity.”

Ghonim underlines this by saying that modern controlling technologies sense all those variants and send signals to the pumps, asking it to give more cold water or less by special pump speed controllers, such as VFDs. “While the old design codes are recommending to oversize the pump by 10% for expected future demand increase (bigger pump casing size), the modern philosophy is to select the pump at full impeller size with maximum possible efficiency operating point (Best Efficiency Point-BEP), at the same time, using VFD to ensure the best operation efficiency at all times,” he says. “Hence, payback of energy saved from this combination could be got by two years of operation.” Moro adds to this by saying that the flow and head of the pump are related to its power consumption. “Choosing the right pump is critical in achieving a high-efficiency level for the [HVAC] system,” he highlights.

Experts are of the opinion that choosing the right pump will play a major role in the efficient functioning of an HVAC system.

Now, coming back to the original question of what the year ahead means for the pump sector, the answer entails looking beyond 2016 – to 2020. To be more precise, the World Expo in Dubai seems to hold the answer.


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