This HVAC product was one of just three products to win the Editors’ Choice Designation out of the 45 winners in 2020’s Money-Saving Products competition. Here’s how this ultra-efficient heat exchanger reduces HVAC operating costs. Listen now >>
Janelle Penny: Hi, this is Janelle Penny, editor-in-chief of BUILDINGS. I’m joined by Jeff Tucker. Jeff is the head of R&D and business development for Danfoss. And today, he’s here to talk about Danfoss’s Integrated Microchannel Heat Exchanger, which was one of only three products to receive the Editors’ Choice distinction out of the 45 winners of our Money-Saving Products contest.
Jeff, thanks so much for joining me.
Jeff Tucker: Hey, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Janelle: Tell me a little about the product. How does it work?
Jeff: Yeah, so I think probably it’s easier to tell you a little bit about microchannel, just at a kind of a high-level what is a microchannel heat exchanger.
You’re probably familiar with the round tube plate fan heat exchangers that have been in the HVAC market for a very, very long time. Microchannel heat exchangers are something that’s come on in the last 20 years.
It’s starting to pick up a lot of interest and being applied to a lot of different products. But essentially, they’re just a higher efficiency, more compact, less refrigerant charge, lower weight, all the things that you’re looking for in a heat exchanger is what microchannel heat exchangers bring to the table.
Often times, in a rooftop application, you’ll have a couple of different refrigerant circuits all tied into one system. And with round tube plate thin heat exchangers, what you’re able to do is you’re able to create one physical heat exchanger.
And you can put multiple circuits flowing through the heat exchanger, but all within the same physical heat exchanger. That’s something we weren’t able to do with microchannel until Danfoss was able to introduce this interlaced microchannel, which we call iMCHE.
Essentially what it does is it allows you to create a multi-circuit refrigerant circuit product. It allows you to use one heat exchanger and run multiple refrigerant circuits through one heat exchanger. And of course, the advantage of doing that is that all the surface of the heat exchanger, the airflow, everything can be used regardless of whether you’re using one refrigerant circuit or many refrigerant circuits.
So, it’s just a way to really boost the efficiency of the overall product and doing that within a microchannel heat exchanger.
Janelle: Great. So, you touched on this a little bit, but what challenges does this product solve?
Jeff: Yeah. In 2023, there are some big changes coming for the HVAC market. There’s going to be a requirement to increase the efficiency of most of the products that are being sold in the US.
And so, right now is a new development period for most equipment suppliers, where they’re looking at ways that they can increase the efficiency of their product.
The challenge that our customers are facing is how do they get to that new efficiency target without adding too much expense or in some cases, additional size of the product that the customer has to deal with.
What this does is it just allows them to operate a system at say for example, 30% capacity and then 60% capacity and 100% capacity as an example. They can kind of offer three levels of performance within one product.
And the way that the new efficiency requirements are written, they can integrate all of those different operating points into one efficiency number. By allowing themselves to run at different operating points, they can generate a more efficient product.
So, the problem that this solves is simply just allowing them to use one heat exchanger to run multiple circuit and then produce a product that has multiple capacities and efficiencies.
Janelle: Great, how does it save money?
Jeff: Well, I think it saves money a couple of different ways. One is for our customer, which is the person who produces the product, because we think it’s the lowest cost solution to hit their new efficiency targets.
And then of course, a big benefit goes to the person who’s operating the building who has to pay the utility bill, because they’re getting a product that runs at a higher efficiency.
That means they’re utilizing less refrigerant. They’re utilizing less electricity or gas in some cases. But overall, they’re saving money simply because their utility bill is going to be less because we use less energy.
Janelle: Makes sense. Are there any other features we should highlight that set it apart from other competitors in the field or anything unique or interesting about it you’d like to mention?
Jeff: Yeah, I think one thing that is part of the Danfoss strategy, and one of the things that we are offering to the customer that’s different than our competitors, is the ability for this single heat exchanger to offer different capacities within different circuits.
What I mean by that is in some cases, you would have one heat exchanger and a circuit one and circuit two would need to be equal in capacity. So, they would both be 50% of the total capacity.
But the Danfoss solution allows the customer to offer something other than 50%. And as I mentioned in my initial example, if they would like to have one circuit be 40%, the other circuit to be 60%, and then if they operate both at the same time is 100%, Danfoss is the unique supplier that can provide them with that unbalanced circuit, if they think that’s the best solution for their application.
Janelle: Sounds great. Jeff, thank you so much for joining me today.
Jeff: You’re welcome. Thanks for the opportunity.
Janelle: And thanks to all of you for listening. We’ll see you next time.
Check out the other 2020 Editors’ Choice winners: