Low GWP Hydronic Heating and Cooling Systems
The Texas Allergy, Indoor Environment,and Energy (TxAIRE) Institute
manufacturing and use of global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, it is clear that new technologies that do not rely upon the use of such chemicals will become increasingly important to sustainable development.
Building systems that use far less refrigerants by relying more heavily upon hydronic (water-based) designs will become increasing popular. Such systems can be more efficient as water can transport 3000 times more thermal energy per unit volume than air. Such systems can also be more cost-effective as the price of refrigerants will skyrocket as the price of electric (from renewable photovoltaic sources) decreases. And finally, hydronic systems are far more environmentally friendly, not only because they can replace current high GWP refrigerants, but because other alternatives to current refrigerants are either chemically toxic (ammonia for example) or flammable (propane for example).
TxAIRE is working with local Texas-based companies to develop and demonstrate hydronic terminal fan coil heating and cooling equipment that utilizes chilled or heated water running through piping. Such systems can be used to completely heat and cool a building or used to supplement radiant floor systems. Because the TxAIRE devices will include air filtration as well as heating and cooling, they provide indoor air quality solutions to radiant heated homes that would not otherwise have the ability to clean the air without a separate air filtration system.