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Low temperature heat / solar driven air conditioning system for heating, cooling, dehumidification and ventilation of buildings

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - freescoo (Low temperature heat / solar driven air conditioning system for heating, cooling, dehumidification and ventilation of buildings)

Reporting period: 2016-09-01 to 2016-12-31

Air Conditioning and ventilation are essential for maintaining thermal comfort in indoor environments. While the penetration of air conditioning systems in the residential and small tertiary sectors have reached, in southern EU countries, shares ranging from 30 to 50% of the dwellings, the demand for ventilation is still low. In the near future the demand for ventilation will achieve a dominant percentage of the energy requirements for residential and non-residential buildings due to the high thermal insulation standards: in low energy and passive houses at least 50% of the thermal heat is caused by the ventilation.

The global HVAC market is expected to reach $173.16 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 5.9% between 2016 and 2022. The factors which are driving the growth of market include government incentives through tax credit programs, increasing construction activities, government regulations and policies for energy saving, and growing trend of smart homes. In particular, within the HVAC market, the major CAGR growth is expected for the ventilation segment. According to the EU association of ventilation (EVIA), the EU market of Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) units reached 660k units in 2015 and it is projected to reach 850k units in 2020, with relevant increases in medium climate countries (Germany, UK, and France).

Even if the major growth is expected by the HRV systems, the AC segment is yet leading the market. In the next 15 years, according to the EU prevision, the energy used to cool buildings across Europe is likely to increase by 72%, and a research carried out by ECN foresees that by 2060, the amount of energy used worldwide in cooling will overtake that used in heating.
Thus, it is mandatory, if the path towards the achievement of the 2°C target is to remain open, to progress towards decarbonization of the energy generation and the progressive increase of the share of covering cooling and heating demands by more efficient and renewable based systems than those currently available.
Although electrically driven air-conditioning units have reached a relatively high standard, their energy consumption is still relatively high as most refrigeration based systems use electricity to power a compressor. In order to reduce HVAC systems impacts any future-oriented HVAC solution requires a sustainable energy supply from a renewable energy source. An obvious counter to this trend is to use the same energy for generation of cooling that contributes to creating the cooling demand: solar energy.

Freescoo (Free Solar Cooling) is an innovative and patented HVAC system fed by low grade solar thermal energy, designed to provide cooling, dehumidification, heating and ventilation in a single compact unit. Freescoo is based on DEC (Desiccant Evaporative Cooling) technology with many innovative aspects that have permitted to realize the simplest solar cooling device in the market. Only using low enthalpy heat, 45-60°C, and water evaporation Freescoo treats directly external hot and wet air, to obtain a conditioned stream typically at 20°C and 50% of relative humidity like a typical HVAC system, reducing drastically electrical demand. Being driven by low enthalpy heat (easily produced by flat plate or evacuated tube), the system can be integrated with existing residential heating distribution systems, working at the same temperature.
Techical feasibility study:

1) We have assessed Freescoo HVAC energy performances in different application scenarios through dynamic thermal simulations performed by the TRNSYS software, an extremely flexible graphically based software environment used to simulate the behavior of transient systems.

2) We have revised the Freescoo design to meet end-users' needs: we have opted for the development of a new generation of Freescoo HVAC systems characterized by the separation of the adsorbent module and the evaporative module to meet the different structural constraints of the buildings. We have designed a flexible frame system and elaborated 3 different connection proposals.

3) We have highlighted FREESCOO HVAC value propositions over competitive best-in-class technologies

4) The plan to bring Freescoo system to TRL9 has been defined, and the cost analysis has been refined in order to meet market demand. An analysis of the manufacturing line required to meet the expected sales production plan has been assessed.

Market feasibility study:

1) We have identified the manufacturing and commercial industrial players with which we will collaborate for the Freescoo HVAC market entry.

2) We have interacted with target clients and stakeholders to evaluate user preferences, willingness to pay and product acceptance in order to demonstrate the commercial validity of Freescoo.

3) We have expanded our initial market research by focusing our attention on the primary market segments for Freescoo market introduction

4) We have scheduled to submit 2 new patents to protect the second generation of Freescoo systems

5) We have updated the Business Innovation plan, by including a 5 year finacial plan, a revision of the company structure and a proper commercialization and dissemination strategy
Freescoo is the first all-in-one HVAC system designed for residential and small tertiary applications. The surphace that can be conditioned it is from 20 to 30 sqm, depends on type of building, climatic area, facing and other factors.

The system guarantees the highest energy efficiency on the market thanks a patented heat driven Desiccant Evaporative Cooling (DEC) open cycle technology that takes advantage of innovative Cooled Packed Beds realized with fin and tube heat exchangers filled with silica gel and advanced evaporative cooling processes:

1. Physical adsorption reduces moisture content of external air up to the desired humidity rate by using two fixed desiccant packed-beds of silica gel which are operated in a batch process. Each adsorption bed is made by a fin and tube heat exchanger with the gaps between the fins filled with silica gel grains. The adsorption material is cooled by water flowing through the tubes. A dry cooler, which is integrated in the system, is used to reject the adsorption heat generated by the desiccant bed operating in dehumidification mode. After hours of working sorbent material reach the maximum moisture content. To continue dehumidification it has to be “regenerated” heating and drying sorbent material with hot air. To guarantee a continuous operation of the system are necessary at least two parallel CPB: when the first dehumidify air the other is in regeneration phase and viceversa. This commutation between the two adsorption beds is provided by a system of air dumpers.

2. Second process – indirect evaporative cooling - instead reduces air temperature up to supply temperature conditions by using two wet evaporative heat exchangers connected in series.

Freescoo system only requires connection to the existing heat distribution system, electricity network and air inlet and outlet ducts behind the unit, in a simple plug and play solution.
Freescoo can storage solar energy (as adsorption capacity) thanks to the great amount of sorbent material and exchange surface respect to conventional DEC systems in which there is not storage possibility. This is an important feature to guarantee continuity on service also in absence of solar radiation for a period between 3-5 hours.
In the wintertime, the system provides free solar heat when the sun is shining and can be eventually integrated with different kinds of auxiliary energy heat sources (boiler/heat pump) to guarantee a continuous heating of the building.

Freescoo has the potential to disrupt the HVAC market. We have defined the primary target markets:
1. Freescoo as standard HVAC solution for both new buildings or existing buildings undergoing a major renovation according to the new nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEBs) parameters
2. Substitution of high efficiency ductless mini split heat pumps in public/private/small commercial buildings where the provision of ventilation should improve comfort conditions (i.e. in overcrowded indoor areas)
Frescoo HVAC