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Supply chain ‘may wait years’ for CRC benefits

The full benefits to the air conditioning and refrigeration sector of the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme may take years to come through, according to construction consultant David Strong.

The mandatory energy efficiency scheme came into force on 1 April and will apply to private and public sector organisations. However, it may take about three to four years before the market matures and league table-ranking companies’ energy use acts as a catalyst for substantial investment in greener refrigeration, said Mr Strong, the chief executive of Inbuilt.

Refrigeration can account for about half of company’s energy bill, according to the Carbon Trust, making it a key part of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Supermarkets will drive much of the investment in new refrigeration.

A spokesman for Tesco said that it was too early to judge the impact of the CRC scheme, adding that it would add to “already strong drivers within the business to
tackle climate change”.

Tesco aims to halve carbon emissions from new and existing buildings by 2020, against a 2006 baseline, and become a zero carbon business by 2050.

Industry’s initial response to the CRC scheme was due to be revealed at the end of April with the Environment Agency’s publication of its first monthly list of thenumber of companies that have signed up for the scheme.

From next year, the Agency will publish an annual league table highlighting the best and worst performers in CRC.

Companies that refuse to participate in the scheme, or fail to disclose information, may be fined £5,000 and an additional £500 per day for a maximum of 80 working

About 5,000 organisations - those that used at least 6,000 MWh of half hourly metered electricity in 2008 - will have to report their emissions and, from 2011, buy
allowances for every tonne of CO2 they emit.

See analysis of the CRC and its impact on the rac industry in Agenda on p15-17.

The £55 million Leeds Arena could form part of Leeds City Council’s proposed district heating and cooling network, according to a sustainability study conducted by Arup.

The study suggested that the patterns of occupancy at the 13,500-seater arena, which would require 2.7 MW of heating and 2.2-2.4 MW of cooling, would be ideally suited to take excess capacity generated by the network.

The council is currently investigating the possibilities of two new district schemes, which would see heating and cooling generated by Leeds University’s existing plants as well as new generators.

Last month Bam Construction was appointed preferred bidder to build the arena and is now working on developing designs before the two-stage contract reaches close this autumn.

The feasibility study also appeared to rule out the previously-considered ground source heat pumps on size and cost grounds. Arup said although the
heat pumps would be able to generate 200 kW of cooling the installation size and estimated cost of £700,000 would make them inappropriate.

A trigeneration system, combining cooling heat and power, was therefore deemed the most feasible option.

Technology watch
Magnetic refrigeration partnership expects field trials the partnership between domestic fridge manufacturer Whirlpool and magnetic refrigeration specialist Camfridge is progressing apace and field trials are expected in 2012.

Whirlpool’s status as an Olympic supplier could lead to a demonstration project at London 2012. Camfridge boss Neil Wilson says that forthcoming energy classifications would make the technique increasingly more compelling against conventional vapour compression. He also notes that the partnership is working on commercially producible compounds to produce the refrigeration, rather than the rare element gadolinium being pursued in the US.

High-pressure proves promising
Two teams based at the Barcelona Knowledge Campus in Spain have worked with the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany to develop a new solid material that produces a caloric effect under hydrostatic pressure, reports Science Daily. This ‘solid-state barocaloric effect’ was achieved using a high-pressure system developed by the University of Catalunya (UPC), which is the only one of its type in Spain. The researchers showed that application of a moderate hydrostatic pressure to a nickel-manganese-indium alloy (Ni-Mn-In) produces results comparable to those achieved with the most effective magnetocaloric materials.

According to Luís Manosa, principal investigator of the study: “The aim of this field of research is to identify materials that are efficient, economic and environmentally respectful, and the advantages of the alloy used in this study is that all of the component materials meet these requirements.”

Because the type of material can produce much greater caloric effects with only slight variations in pressure, it is thought to be ideal for domestic refrigeration systems and air conditioning.

IBM says hot water is the answer to data cooling

Whereas data centres have for decades used cold liquids to transfer heat away from central processing units, a team of IBM researchers in Switzerland is experimenting with a micro network of copper tubes that run through smaller, clustered computer servers and remove heat with the help of warm water, reports Scientific American. Liquid cooling, even with warm water, is 4,000 times more effective than air cooling at removing heat, they say.

To prove the point IBM and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) have created a supercomputer called the Aquasar, which uses water at 60 deg C instead of air as its coolant to capture and remove heat. The researchers report that early testing of the Aquasar indicates it uses half the electricity of a supercomputer cooled with cold water.

Water does not necessarily need to be cold to work as a coolant; it just needs to be cooler than the microprocessor, says Ingmar Meijer, a researcher with IBM Research-Zurich. Using pipes that run alongside electrical components, the distilled water at 60 deg C can keep microprocessors below their limit of 85 deg C.

As a prototype, Aquasar cost more to build than a comparable air- and liquid-cooled supercomputer without IBM’s microchannel warm-water cooling system, with most of the added expense attributed to retrofitting copper tubing and heat sinks onto an existing computer server. Mr Meijer estimates payback after about a year and a half thanks to electricity savings.