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Cleanroom decarbonization: How electric heat pumps in a cleanroom becomes the obvious

Category: Blog
Date: August 11, 2022

Cleanrooms are a significant contributor of carbon emissions. As the broader economy transitions to net zero, various stakeholders are pushing for cleanroom decarbonization. The electrification of heating systems could play a significant role in this transition. Electrifying space and water heating systems is one way to reduce cleanroom emissions, and electric heat-pump technology, which has improved and become cost-competitive in certain markets, has emerged as an increasingly viable solution.

Building heat has typically been a challenge to electrify at scale because of the high cost and complexity of converting a wide variety of current heating systems (such as steam, hot water, forced air), as well as the relative cost-effectiveness of fossil-fuel energy sources in most cold weather areas. Modern heat pumps are reversible, which means they can cool and heat, sometimes even at the same time. On top of that, electric heat pumps have become an increasingly effective way for buildings to decarbonize due to operating, equipment and installation costs becoming more competitive in certain markets, as well as developments in heat-pump technology.

In this read, we’ll focus merely on the potential for heat-pump technology to help reduce cleanroom emissions. One of the challenges when configuring a pre-engineered cleanroom is to choose the appropriate utilities and HVAC system that correctly corresponds to the end-user’s requirements. Utility and HVAC system design is critical for controlled environments and cleanroom applications due to its vital impact on internal process integrity. Processes taking place in controlled environments are related to the pharmaceutical industry, life sciences, biotechnology, delicate manufacturing processes and so on. Choosing inappropriate HVAC systems (either oversized or undersized) will incur initial cost as well as running cost implications that might affect business bottom line.

Given that space and water heating are the primary contributors of cleanroom emissions, electrification represents a meaningful step toward realizing decarbonization goals. Equipment and installation costs, which have posed the biggest economic barrier to heat-pump adoption, are beginning to decline. While utilities and HVAC system design depends heavily on the required cleanroom classification according to ISO14644-16, which leads to adopting certain air changes per hour, thermal loads need to be addressed in early stages of the cleanroom project taking into consideration all internal and external heat sources. It’s also important to understand that thermal load calculation is not only needed for equipment selection but it is also required to understand load fluctuations, hence choosing the most feasible utilities and HVAC system from the initial cost as well as from the operational cost point of view. By using an inverter, the required thermal power is always supplied, no more and no less.

At ABN Cleanroom Technology, we strongly believe that the use of heat-pumps instead of gas in a cleanroom becomes the obvious. For example, energy saving algorithms can be easily applied to this modern heat pumps, which makes it easier to connect to IIoT. The combination of innovative design for improved performance, reduced equipment cost and easier installation results in the emergence of heat-pumps as a viable decarbonization technology for many cleanroom types and could provide a path to energy efficiency and emission reductions.

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