There is a touch of disbelief when Kor Foekens, Commercial Director at Oxycom, says: “Installers still exhibit a degree of caution when considering adiabatic cooling. The unfamiliar often breeds scepticism.” He goes on to say that installers may not be sufficiently acquainted with the system or its suitable applications. Additionally, there exist several misconceptions surrounding adiabatic cooling, he says. “There is a misconception that it creates a sub-tropical indoor environment that is neither sustainable nor hygienic, potentially leading to Legionella infections,” he says. “Moreover, there is a belief that adiabatic cooling is expensive, intricate and ineffective in humid conditions. We aim to clarify that none of these assumptions are accurate.”
Adiabatic cooling, also known as evaporative cooling, involves the cooling of air through the process of water evaporation. Foekens says this method, though centuries old, remains relatively unknown to many installers, despite its simplicity. In today’s world, the focus is on exploring innovative approaches to minimise the environmental impact associated with traditional cooling methods as the world strives to reduce carbon emissions.
Foekens says it has been possible to innovate on existing adiabatic cooling technology. He says the innovation offers remarkable energy savings, cutting down on energy consumption and CO2 emissions by as much as 90% in comparison to conventional air conditioners. Addressing a limitation of traditional adiabatic cooling technology, which often faced challenges with humidity management, is a new Indirect/Direct Evaporation Cooling (IDEC) approach, with which it is possible to achieve a more profound cooling effect of up to 7 degrees C while reducing humidity levels by up to 70%. Foekens says the technology is exceptionally efficient, generating up to 695 kWh of cooling power by evaporating just 1 m3 of water. This results in savings on energy costs and CO2 emissions of approximately 90% compared to conventional air conditioning methods. Notably, the new adiabatic cooling system scales its cooling capacity in response to rising temperatures, he says. As the mercury climbs, the system delivers progressively greater cooling power, ensuring optimal performance when it is needed the most, he adds.
Foekens says that when temperatures continue to rise, the cooling capacity of current cooling systems becomes inadequate, resulting in operational issues and the potential loss of valuable food items, among other concerns. The new system is positioned in front of existing condensers, effectively reducing air temperature by up to 25 degrees C degrees. This results in a remarkable reduction in energy consumption, up to 40%, and an enhancement in cooling capability of up to 20%.
The new system, Foekens says, can be applied in supermarket chains and in energy-intensive data centres, significantly lowering their substantial energy consumption.
The new system takes legionella out of the equation, Foekens says. Legionella occurs in aerosols, but in the new system, no aerosols are released, he says. The water evaporates from the surface of the heat exchanger. There are simply no droplets released, so there are no aerosols that can spread through the air stream.
Higher productivity and comfort cooling
The cooling of buildings and production halls is becoming increasingly important, Foekens says, adding that summers are getting hotter and hotter. “When it gets hot in the working environment, it affects people,” Foekens says. “Productivity drops, and employees start making mistakes. If the temperature and humidity are right, it’s more pleasant to work. Foekens says that Oxycom, in cooperation with Dosan, installed the new system in three of the newly built stores of eXtra in Saudi Arabia. It proved to be a good solution for highly efficient, sustainable comfort cooling at 54% net cost savings, he says. With outdoor temperatures reaching 43 degrees C, the average supply temperature remained around 12 degrees C, he says. The fresh air, along with low energy consumption, was key for eXtra in this project, he says, adding that eXtra understands what kind of impact fresh air can have on employee productivity and customer satisfaction.