Energy Wall: Improving HVAC Performance to Save Energy and Expenses
Mechanical air conditioning accounts for the largest percentage of energy use in both residential and commercial buildings. Not only that, building codes are becoming more stringent, and there is a greater need to improve the indoor air quality for better worker performance. Bacterial and mold growth can only be contained with tight control of building humidity levels.
This spells opportunity for Lancaster-based Energy Wall, whose technology improves building HVAC system performance by up to 40 percent by efficiently “preconditioning” the outdoor air supply. Energy Wall has developed a ceramic, fiber-based energy recovery ventilator that recovers energy from the building’s stale air exhaust stream and uses it to precondition incoming fresh air. Outdoor air raises indoor air quality by reducing air pollution, improving the health and productivity of building occupants.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) has invested $200,000 in the company since 2006, and commercialization of the product is underway, with 1,000 units planned for 2009.
“Energy Wall would likely not exist today without the financial backing of BFTP,” says Dustin Eplee, Energy Wall founder and inventor. “In addition to the funding, they’ve provided this company with invaluable business wisdom and guidance.”
Improving Existing Technology
Current air conditioning technologies involve rotating desiccant wheels which have proven to have a negative impact on air quality and have high maintenance costs. Energy Wall has no moving parts and the materials used to create the membrane kill up to 98 percent of bacteria that comes in contact with it.
“Energy recovery ventilators are part of the specification in only about one percent of the potential applications, so a large, untapped potential for energy savings exists with this current technology,” says Eplee. “Historically, engineers have shied away from this technology because of high cross-contamination and perceived poor reliability. Energy Wall has brought to market the most efficient heat and moisture exchanger without any moving parts.”
Energy Wall’s hybrid desiccant approach permanently bonds the world’s most powerful desiccant, lithium chloride, to a highly absorbent substrate that eliminates the need for the motorized and inefficient wheels at the heart of most HVAC systems. The technology enables energy recovery ventilation systems to provide fresh outdoor air at just 20 percent of the cost of conventional systems and improves dehumidification capacity up to 75 percent.
Keynotes May, 2009
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