Available Technologies: Sustainability

Commercial HVAC hybrid systems

By actively monitoring energy spot prices and internal energy demand, commercial buildings can lower energy costs by storing thermal energy before peak demand.

Benefitscommercial hvac

  • Reduces operating expenses by:
    • storing energy before peak demand using smart metering
    • using photovoltaics
    • utilising liquid thermal and battery storage.
  • Provides redundancy in power failures.
  • Islanding or cooperative micro-grids become possible
  • Calendar and weather energy predictions.

Background

It is becoming a commercial necessity to reduce heating and cooling energy costs. Planning for future energy demands is no longer about predicting internal energy use, it’s now about predicting base-load spot pricing. Building Information Management Information (BIM) systems only solve part of the problem.

In places where the certainty of electricity supply is in doubt there‘s also a growing need to design systems that provide heating and cooling redundancy. Hybrid systems, that use photovoltaic (PV), intelligent storage and external smart monitoring, can reduce operating expenses and provide energy certainty.

Technology

Phase Change Materials (PCM’s) provide thermal (hot and cold) storage rather than electricity storage. These materials have been around for some time but many have been difficult to implement. Recent developments in intelligent mixing have increased the efficiency longevity and accessibility of these systems. They can also be three times cheaper than battery storage. By predictively storing energy during cheap energy periods or using excess PV, peak pricing periods can be avoided by deploying the PCM storage.

Smart systems are being developed to predict:

  • spot power pricing
  • weather demands
  • internal energy demands (e.g. events, holidays)
  • maintenance
  • any other demands that are known in advance.

These systems then raise or lower the amount of thermal storage required to effectively reduce the operating costs during predicted high energy periods.

If there is a blackout, or islanding is preferred, the PCM storage can be deployed using small pumps, rather than energy consuming compressors. Pump power is provided by smaller chemical battery storage units or by PV when accessible.

PCM technology is available for a wide range of temperatures and storage applications. For example it’s possible to have hot and cold storage in underground tanks, or to integrate hybrid systems into some existing HVAC systems to reduce costs.

Potential markets

Commercial and industrial HVAC.

Partnering opportunities 

UniSA Ventures is seeking commercial partners to develop prototypes.

Inventors

Commercial lead

Simon Daws