Window of opportunity for air curtain technology

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Published: 20 February 2018


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Setting up the tests at BSRIA
Developers behind a new heat pump-based air curtain believe it offers an energy-efficient alternative to outdated technology.

The new system has been developed by Fred Shaw & Co in conjunction with engineers from Toshiba Air Conditioning UK to meet the requirements of the UK market. It has been accepted onto the Government-backed Energy Technology List after passing independent tests.
Unlike conventional electrically-powered models, the new air curtain connects to a high performance VRF or multi-split system. It is designed for mounting over entry doors in shops, hotels and offices and was designed to significantly cut end users’ energy costs, and to be easy to install and service.

The air curtain was subjected to live tests at the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) laboratories in Bracknell to evaluate its thermal efficiency, acoustic and air-flow performance under internationally-recognised test conditions.

Thermal performance tests were carried out in BSRIA's specialist twin chamber using the calorimeter method, in accordance with BS EN 14511:2013. This enabled heating capacity and Coefficient of Performance (COP) to be determined.

Airflow tests were carried out in accordance with BS ISO 27327-1:2009 to determine free air airflow rate, uniformity of air outlet velocity, and air outlet velocity projection.

Acoustic tests
The test rig for the free air airflow rate test was purpose-built by BSRIA to meet the requirements of the standard and the specific dimensions of the air curtain. For the air outlet velocity uniformity and projection tests the air outlet velocity was measured at 125 locations.

Acoustic tests were carried out in accordance with BS EN ISO 3741:2010 to determine the air curtain’s sound power level. Testing was carried out in BSRIA's 210sq m reverberation chamber thermal-acoustic facility.

The results showed the air curtain’s air outlet velocity uniformity was 91 per cent, against a target of 85 per cent. The acoustic test results showed sound pressure to be 54dB(A), while the COP was determined to be 3.0.

The results proved the technology meets the performance requirements of the UK Energy Technology List for air curtains, and it has been accepted onto the scheme. This gives end users a tax advantage on capital used to purchase ETL-listed equipment, which qualify for Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) under the programme.

Compelling alternative
The air curtain is available in two chassis lengths, 2200mm and 1500mm, both suitable for surface or recessed installation. Surface mounted units have an optional mounting flange accessory enabling use with ceiling tiles.
Gary Tingle, director at Fred Shaw & Co, said: “Air curtain technology has not moved on for decades. Conventional electrically-powered systems can be costly to run, and difficult and expensive to maintain.

“Working with Toshiba, we have taken a fresh look at this whole area and believe a heat pump-based system, harnessing the inherent thermodynamic efficiencies of VRF and multi-split systems, represents a huge leap forward. It will save end users on their energy bills, offer quieter running, and be easier and cheaper to install and service.

“End users not only benefit from lower running costs over the lifetime of the equipment, with the ETL listing they can claim Enhanced Capital Allowance on the initial purchase, too. We believe that with this new design, the air curtain has come of age, and that it offers a compelling alternative to outdated traditional air curtain technology.”

www.fredshaw.co.uk