The vital role of flow and energy measurement in hospital HVAC systems

Discover how this global shift towards precision and efficiency has resulted in another successful project using digital flow solutions from Badger Meter.

Water and energy efficiency efforts have risen in recent years, as environmental and economic concerns have grown to even greater prominence.  No one is more aware of this trend than the HVAC industry, which must contend with an ever-expanding list of regulations, guidelines and initiatives emphasizing the importance of energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems in buildings.

As facility managers are now held more accountable for the overall water and energy consumption of buildings, having access to highly accurate and reliable flow and energy metering technology has become vital. These meters make it possible for facility managers to measure the performance of various HVAC systems and, ultimately, make the best possible decisions to optimize efficiency and manage consumption.

Discover how this global shift towards precision and efficiency has resulted in another successful project using digital flow solutions from Badger Meters. These include no moving parts, zero straight run requirements and digital communication outputs, providing the necessary precision and accuracy needed for hospitals around the world.

How can you improve the quality of medical provision and become more environmentally friendly? This case study demonstrates how a children’s hospital in the U.S. achieved this by selecting the class-leading ModMAG® M2000 Electromagnetic flow meters and Dynasonics® TFX-5000 Ultrasonic Clamp-on flow meters, providing effective management and system optimization.

Enhancing hospital heating and cooling systems

High standards of medical care are essential for the health and well-being of patients and staff. However, not only do the latest medical devices and procedures play an important role in meeting strict requirements, but the quality of indoor air and temperature regulation is also crucial. In older buildings, outdated or inefficient heating and ventilation systems can lead to problems such as mold growth, air pollution, energy waste, overheating or overcooling. These issues can in turn have negative effects on health, hygiene, infection prevention, patient satisfaction and working conditions.

To ensure the most efficient and precise monitoring equipment for heating and cooling systems was installed, the hospital used the latest digital flow solutions from Badger Meter. These solutions offered zero straight run requirements with no moving parts and are able to measure flow and BTU energy across the primary and secondary loop systems, including individual air handlers across the hospital. The hospital decided to use solutions from Badger Meter to provide the necessary precision, choosing direct digital flow measurement rather than relying solely on pressure drop across the chiller pumps.

Hospitals rely on chillers to provide chilled water for cooling and dehumidifying the air in their facilities, but chillers are among the largest energy consumers in hospitals, accounting for up to 40% of the total electricity use. Therefore, improving the efficiency and reliability of chillers can have a significant impact on reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, as well as enhancing patient comfort and safety.

Direct measurement of flow vs. pressure drop across chiller pumps

Direct digital flow measurement is a method of measuring the flow rate of chilled water in a cooling system, using digital flow meters such as the class-leading ModMAG M2000 Electromagnetic flow meters or the Dynasonics TFX-5000 Ultrasonic Clamp-on flow meters from Badger Meter. These devices use electromagnetic or ultrasonic technology to measure the velocity and volume of the water passing through them. They provide real-time data on the flow rate, which can be used to optimize the performance and efficiency of the chillers. In comparison, pressure drop measurement estimates the flow rate of chilled water, based on the difference in pressure between the inlet and outlet of the chiller pumps. However, this method assumes a linear relationship between the pressure drop and the flow rate, which means it may not be as accurate in some cases. Pressure drop measurement may also be affected by other factors, such as pipe friction, valve settings and pump speed.

What are the advantages of using direct digital flow measurement over pressure drop measurement?
First, it allows the chillers to operate within their ideal operating range, maximizing their efficiency and minimizing their energy consumption. Flow-based control can adjust the chiller staging according to the actual flow rate, while pressure-based control may lead to over- or under-staging of the chillers, resulting in less efficient operation and higher energy costs.

Another advantage is that it can help detect and diagnose system problems, such as pump failures, pipe blockages, leaks or air pockets. Digital flow meters can alert the operators of any abnormal flow conditions and help them take corrective actions. Direct digital flow measurement has no moving parts and nothing to wear out or fail over time, resulting in lower maintenance costs. Pressure drop measurement may not be as sensitive to system issues and may not provide enough information to identify the root cause of the problem.

Using direct digital flow measurement can also support efficient load balancing in systems with multiple chillers. Digital flow meters can ensure that each chiller operates at its optimal load, avoiding overloading or underloading of any chiller. This can extend the equipment’s lifespan and reduce maintenance costs. Pressure drop measurement may not be able to achieve the same level of load balancing and redundancy and can get costly when you must stack pressure transmitters.

The flow data gives hospital engineers precise information on how their system is operating and any necessary adjustments operators need to implement to ensure the best possible performance. Alternatively, when using pressure drop across the chillers for measurement data, there are many items that need to be maintained (for example the primary and secondary differential elements like the pressure transmitters). These pressure transmitters, along with their oil-filled impulse lines, can get clogged or leak over time causing the pressure device to fail, losing important control of better staging chiller sequences.

However, the data coming from the digital flow and energy measurement solutions by Badger Meter can be received in the latest communications protocols, including BACnet MS/TP, Modbus RTU, BACnet/IP, Modbus/IP and Modbus TCP/IP. These latest communications will speak directly to a hospitals Building Management System (BMS) for clarity when making important chiller operation decisions. Badger Meter also ensures that our communications technology has been fully tested and certified by industry leading laboratories like BACnet Testing Laboratories (BTL), which will help to ensure startup success when connecting to the hospital’s BMS. Differential pressure solutions must provide an external communications system comprised of multiple vendors and third-party modules just to connect to the hospital’s BMS.

Gaining greater control over hospital HVAC systems

This recent installation showcases the shift towards precision and efficiency in hospital heating and cooling systems globally, utilizing trusted, reliable and accurate technology with no maintenance required. These digital flow solutions from Badger Meter, with zero straight run requirements, offer the latest technology, providing this necessary precision and accuracy for hospitals around the world.

The digitalization of HVAC networks allows for the ability to capture much larger amounts of data from every part of the facility, as well as the integration of different types of intelligent systems. The increase in available data will provide more visibility into facility conditions, expanding the ability for increased automation, along with benefits such as:

  • Increased comfort
  • Decreased operating cost
  • Reduced downtime risk
  • Increased safety

Check out the M2000 Inline Electromagnetic and the non-intrusive Ultrasonic TFX-5000 digital flow solutions from Badger Meter to learn more about direct digital flow measurement and the benefits it can offer to your cooling system.

Flow monitoring, water quality sensing and toxic gas detection within hospitals

Flow instrumentation, water quality monitoring and toxic gas detection are all crucial aspects of the management and operation of hospital facilities. The unique and innovative range of solutions from Badger Meter helps to improve efficacy, maintain a safe environment and provide audit trails for regulatory compliance by:

  • Maintaining and safeguarding clean, safe and reliable water supplies into healthcare facilities
  • Optimising and preventing corrosion within HVAC systems
  • Monitoring chlorine levels during renal dialysis
  • Validating sterilization cleaning processes by monitoring residual gas levels.

Our expertise in sensor design and manufacturing allows us to deliver the highest level of protection for people and processes within healthcare and pharmaceutical environments.

For more information  on the Ultrasonic Clamp-on flow meters visit Badger Meter

For more information about ModMAG Electromagnetic meters from Badger Meter visit: ModMAG® | Badger Meter