Airports often spend hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on air-conditioning systems, over and above cheaper, albeit noisier, fan-based solutions. Jonathan Jover, managing director of Magnovent, explains how his company is balancing fan technology with noise concerns and energy efficiency through the use of innovative HVLS technology.
Standing in the vast check-in hall at Valencia Airport, you would little suspect that you were positioned underneath a minor technological marvel. The fans whirring anonymously on the ceiling above use high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) technology, allowing the management of huge amounts of air at very slow speeds. Unlike conventional fans, they're noiseless, efficient and have a much longer working life.
"In the winter, when the warm air in the building is trapped in the higher parts, we can send it down and homogenise the temperatures across the whole space," says Jonathan Jover, founder and managing director of Magnovent, the company responsible for installing the fans at Valencia. "Then, in the summer time, we increase the speed of the HVLS fan to create a comfortable, steady breeze, with no turbo lines, that feels very soft on the skin."
HVLS fan technology uses a gearless motor with direct-drive technology. This enhances the warranty of the product - confidently pegged by the manufacturer at 50,000 hours of use - and saves a significant amount of weight, reducing the motor from 283 interconnecting parts to just two electromagnetic components. In turn, this is cooled by the open-vortex design of the fan's six 1.82m-long, 7.3m-diameter blades, which capture air and funnel it through to the centre of the unit. Lastly, with a total power requirement of only 1.6kW an hour, HVLS fans allow operators to make significant long-term energy savings of up to 25% over and above air conditioners and conventional fans.
"There is no other system in the world that can provide 500,000m3 an hour of air movement running on that small amount of power," explains Jover.
This ability is complemented by inbuilt temperature and humidity sensors that allow the operator to coordinate the working of the fans according to the daily air-conditioning needs of the airport. "The advantages are obvious for any large building for winter or summer cooling. The fans can work in tandem with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, or on stand-alone mode in the case of, say, a logistics hall or manufacturing plant that doesn't have air conditioning or heating," adds Jover.
Magnovent has provided HVLS fans for a string of Spanish airports, including Madrid, Zaragoza, Ibiza, Malaga and, of course, Valencia, where the company succeeded in helping the operator save €600,000 a year on air-conditioning costs.
"The installation of the system is very simple," says Jover, as the fans require no additional ducts to be fixed to the roof. "We usually work with a concrete ceiling, or wooden or steel beams, and we can very easily attach the fans to those. We then simply have to connect them to a power source and a network cable."
Although Magnovent's most recent installation was at Santiago Airport in north-eastern Spain, Jover envisions stretching the company's reach even further. "We aim to expand heavily throughout Europe and North Africa with this technology," he says.
Magnovent is also able to offer operators turnkey solutions in all areas of air conditioning and heating, ranging from misting and radiant-heating tools to automated windows, all of which are able to work in concert with the company's HVLS fans.
"Whatever the customer's issue is, we focus on solving their problems in four major areas: humidity, energy savings, comfort and manufacturing processes," explains Jover. "At Magnovent, we do more than simply provide an alternative option with HVLS fans: what we really do is propose and provide innovative energy-efficient solutions for our clients."