© Photo | ebm-papst

“We control the entire room climate”

Adrian Peterhans, Managing Director of Air-On, talks about sensible building renovation and the secrets behind the Air-On® single room air-conditioning unit


Building renovation is enormously important for climate protection. Yet you are critical of it. Why?
Because three aspects are ignored: people themselves, the protection of a building and preservation of its value. Many buildings are equipped with simple ventilation systems that do not reflect the interaction of the parameters of temperature, CO2 and humidity. The current situation in building renovation is miserable. Construction companies have to provide energy-label homes. However, hardly any technology exists on the market that is suitable for meeting this demand.

Was this insight the motivation for developing the Air-On® unit?
The idea came from the company’s founder. He supported a few companies – including ebm-papst – in entering the Chinese market. He noticed that 30 million split-type air conditioners go on-line annually. Just to keep up with this demand, China needs 50 new coal-fired power plants – per year. He wanted to counteract this development with a high-efficiency air-conditioning unit and thus established Air-On.

What happened then?
In the first phase, the primary task was to carry out many basic physical studies. In 2009, the major shareholders got on board – and the project picked up speed with the actual development of the products.

A large number of functions often means a high susceptibility to malfunction. How do you avoid that with Air-On®?
We developed the main functions of the device in-house, as well as the filter and semiconductor technology. Therefore, on a functional level, we can say that we control every aspect of the room climate. Moreover, the device has only three moving mechanical parts: three fans. These correspond to the high service life requirement of the Air-On®. Seen as such, our device is not complex at all.

So why is your air-conditioning unit still the only one of its kind in the world?
In a large corporation, seven working groups would be at battle with each other. We have brought our seven function managers to one table, and this communication promotes compromises by one function so to benefit others. For example, every morning at 9 o’clock we have a team meeting, in which each manager presents the current status and everyone has the opportunity to calibrate their results with those of the others.

Where will the journey take you next?
To a modular system comprised of five to seven families of Air-On® devices. Based on different branches: medicine, food services, housing construction, retirement homes etc. … We shall likely offer specific devices for each. We also plan to design one or two variants for integration into buildings. But in general we want to keep variability at a minimum.

How will the variants differ from one another?
I can imagine, for example, that building owners and architects of new constructions may want to stop having the systems in plain sight. We could offer a system that is built into the wall. Or we could develop an extremely narrow device that would be integrated elegantly and completely into a full-window façade. We can realise such alternatives very quickly because we can simply rearrange the various functions; we don’t have to reinvent them each time.

Back to the application story about the Air-On® single room air-conditioning unit

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