You have a building with a maze of intricate pipes, and you need to install a HVAC system. There are lots of factors to consider, from friction loss in the pipes themselves to pressure loss in longer pipe sections. Even the size and power of the pump itself needs to be considered.
At the 11th REHVA World Congress Clima 2013 in Prague, it was claimed that around two-thirds of pumps run at full capacity all the time when this is needed only 5% of the time, demonstrating how hard it is to balance HVAC systems.
The Grundfos MAGNA3 pump will change this, according to the company, with a number of innovations. In addition to a motor that uses permanent magnet technology to reduce friction loss within the pump and a sensor that measures exactly how much flow is moving through the pump, the MAGNA3 has FLOWLIMIT technology that allows the user to precisely control the output of the pump itself.
"The MAGNA3 pump will circulate the exact amount of water that it has been told to circulate."
Anders Nielsen, Grundfos MAGNA3 project leader
Using the MAGNA3 and FLOWLIMIT to define maximum flow
“If you take a look at the flow graphs for other pumps,” explains Anders Nielsen, project lead for the MAGNA3, “they just keep going, potentially forever. Now we can add a vertical line to the x axis of those graphs as we say to our pump that a particular flow level is its maximum (see figure 1). They can go that far and pump so much water, but go no further.”
Previously, this work was done by using throttling valves that had no direct relationship with the pump itself and were unable to alter its flow. “It’s like fuelling a car to go 100 km an hour, but because you only want it to do 60 km an hour, using the brake to hold it back to that speed,” Anders Nielsen says. “That’s an inefficient way to drive a car or to run a pump. It’s also very wasteful.”
As flow can now be controlled through the pump, it makes balancing the system much easier and with much lower margins for error. If a system is designed to deliver 100 cubic metres per hour and does so, then the person who designed it could be said to have succeeded. But there are many other variables at work. When friction loss is much less than was originally factored into the design, the pump will continue to work in a hugely inefficient way. For example, if a window is left open without shutting off the radiator, the pump will continue to pump an increasing amount to keep pace, thus leading to energy waste.
The MAGNA3 as the ultimate balancing tool
While balancing is one of the most difficult aspects of HVAC systems, the MAGNA3 and FLOWLIMIT help take a large part of the guesswork out of it.
“You can help balance parts of the system with the MAGNA3,” Anders Nielsen says. “When connected to a specific branch in the system, and regardless of pipe diameter and therefore the amount of potential friction loss, the MAGNA3 pump will circulate the exact amount of water that it has been told to circulate.”
In addition, the Grundfos GO smart device controller further enables FLOWLIMIT function by giving the system operator complete control, which can also be done directly on the pump itself. Where balancing the system using throttling valves can be quite a task, the MAGNA3 allows operators to use a handheld controller, or their iOS or Android devices to talk directly to the pump.
Reports on the pump’s activity can be shared electronically and users can control a range of variables, including temperature, allowing them to make quick corrective changes.
A sample installation
So what kind of systems would suit the MAGNA3? Anders Nielsen cites the example of a building with four sectors. The present understanding of pump technology is such that a system would have a throttling valve on each area. With a MAGNA3, the system becomes much simpler. If you install a MAGNA3, you can leave out the pump throttling valve (see figures 2-3).
FIGURE 2: Schematic of a traditional HVAC system. There are mixing loops with throttling valves after each pump. Separate energy meters are applied to keep track of energy flows in the buildings in east, west, north and south wings of the building.
This makes the system much cleaner as the surplus elements can be removed, saving on installation and maintenance costs as the MAGNA3 performs all three functions itself. As well as acting as a pump, it provides an energy output readings and negates the need for dedicated throttling valves. If this network was installed where there was no previous HVAC system, commissioning costs would also be reduced which would mean that, over a protracted period, the MAGNA3 pump paid for itself.
FIGURE 3: The same system with the MAGNA3 pump installed along with FLOWLIMIT. There is no need for separate energy meters and pump throttling valves.
According to Anders Nielsen, one of the participants at the Grundfos workshop at the REHVA World Congress Clima 2013 noted simply: “If I don’t have to buy a throttling valve and an energy meter, I save initial costs. And the first step to increased performance is knowledge about how the system performs which we can get from the energy metering and ability to make a log from the live online results.”