© Photo | Aleksey Kuzin

Air condi­tioning for the dolphi­narium

The Austrian company Frivent supplied all of the climate control and dehu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion equip­ment for a dolphi­narium in the Russian capital ­— including reli­a­bility and effi­ciency.

Frank­furt, March 1991: Josef Friedl greeted a man from Novosi­birsk at his stand at an inter­na­tional exhi­bi­tion for the plumbing and HVAC sector (ISH). The Russian spoke no English, the Austrian no Russian. But they got along well from the start. For Friedl, the founder of Frivent, an Austrian company special­izing in venti­lation and air condi­tioning, it was to be a very impor­tant encounter, laying the foun­da­tion for the company’s first project in Russia — and many more in Eastern Europe — because Friedl recog­nized the huge pent-up demand for air condi­tioning services behind the Iron Curtain.


No compro­mises in design. No equip­ment was to be visible from the outside, so the climate control units had to be installed in the cellar.

Since 2006, the company has had a subsidiary in Moscow, Frivent Klimat­e­ch­nika, with branch offices in St. Peters­burg, Yeka­ter­in­burg and Kazan. At the company’s head­quar­ters in St. Johann, Austria, Josef’s nephew Andreas Friedl now runs the busi­ness. He recently completed the company’s most complex project: the Moskvarium. At this dolphi­narium in Moscow, visi­tors can stroll through the under­water world of the oceans on 53,000 square meters of floor space and view dolphins, sea lions, orcas, sharks and the colorful diver­sity of a coral reef in aquar­iums filled with 25 million liters of water. On the stands at the show basin, young and old can marvel at the antics of Flipper and his friends. Again and again, full-grown orcas jump out of the water and splash back down to screams from the drenched audi­ence.

Large-scale dehu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion

This is where Andreas Friedl comes into play; his company deliv­ered the venti­lation and climate control equip­ment for the Moskvarium. “When a big animal jumps in the show basin, it sets an immense amount of water free.” The differ­ence in temper­a­ture between the water and the air causes the humidity to rise rapidly. The air has to be dehu­mid­i­fied constantly to keep the water from condensing on the walls and damaging the building in the long run.


Thorsten Hartl (left) and Frivent managing director Andreas Friedl with an Aqua­vent dehu­mid­i­fier equipped with RadiPac.

“Fine-tuning the dehu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion was tricky,” recalls Friedl. “We worked through all even­tu­al­i­ties with the plan­ners — and then designed the units for some areas with greater capacity than orig­i­nally planned.” Now twelve of Frivent’s Aqua­vent air dehu­mid­i­fiers with a total dehu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion capacity of nearly two tons of water per hour are at work in the Moskvarium. Moist air flows over a cooling coil in the units and condenses there. The dry air is mixed with outdoor air, brought to room temper­a­ture, and fed back into the facility. Main­taining a consis­tent rela­tion between the air and water temper­a­tures is essen­tial.

When the air temper­a­ture decreases, more water evap­o­rates and the dehu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion output increases imme­di­ately. “Earlier oper­a­tors often made the mistake of lowering the air temper­a­ture overnight to save energy,” explains Friedl. “But the effect is the oppo­site, because the dehu­mid­i­fiers have to work much harder.”

EC fans in eight climate zones

Pleasant condi­tions are also called for in the other visitor areas. In the Moskvarium’s cellar, 25 Ther­mobloc central air condi­tioning units from Frivent circu­late up to 750,000 cubic meters of air per hour and bring it to the right temper­a­ture. The eight different climate zones in the building were a real chal­lenge, with the great show hall having different condi­tions from those in the entrance area or the tunnels through the aquar­iums. “Balancing these different require­ments and linking them with the building systems was a tricky job.”


The small aquarium area is just one of eight climate zones kept at a spec­i­fied temper­a­ture and humidity by Frivent equip­ment.

Air intake and exhaust for the Ther­mobloc and Aqua­vent units is controlled by 98 RadiPac EC centrifugal fans from ebm-papst, all of which have a corro­sion-resis­tant coating to protect them from the salt water. They are also running in the 46 stand­alone air intake units, which were installed where direct connec­tion with the central units was out of the ques­tion, for example in the staff lounges. “Frivent uses only EC fans from ebm-papst,” empha­sizes Thorsten Hartl, sales manager at ebm-papst in Austria. Saving energy has been a main focus at Frivent since the 1970s, when Josef Friedl reacted to the oil crisis by inten­sively inves­ti­gating waste heat recovery.

Russia discovers energy effi­ciency

When Hartl and Andreas Friedl met for the first time in 2011, EC scarcely played any role at all in East Euro­pean projects. “In the last five years, Russia has also recon­sid­ered the matter of energy effi­ciency,” says Friedl. As a result, plan­ning for the Moskvarium empha­sized low energy consump­tion and the best possible waste heat recovery. Over the course of a year, every kilo­watt matters with the enor­mous amounts of air that are conveyed, heated and dehu­mid­i­fied.

„In the last five years, Russia has also recon­sid­ered the matter of energy effi­ciency“

Andreas Friedl, Managing Director at Frivent

But high effi­ciency is just one benefit that Frivent takes advan­tage of. “The Radi­Pacs can also score with their compact design,” says Thorsten Hartl. “That means a smaller design for the Frivent units — and space is always a major issue in a building.” So is noise. “Of course nothing can be allowed to be trans­mitted in the huge duct system, since that would amplify the noise,” explains Andreas Friedl. So all units are equipped with noise-suppres­sion modules. Since RadiPac fans have inher­ently low noise emis­sion, less insu­la­tion was required – resulting in consid­er­able cost reduc­tions.

Demanding and trouble-free


The Ther­mobloc central climate control units are installed in the Moskvarium’s cellar.

Frivent worked on the project from June to September 2014, producing the units one after another in St. Johann, Austria, according to a precise schedule. Deliv­ering them on Russia’s roads, which are not intact every­where, turned out to be the biggest chal­lenge. The project is espe­cially impor­tant to Andreas Friedl. “People didn’t believe we would be able to carry out such a demanding project in such a short time.” But in the end, every­thing went smoothly. “That was espe­cially impor­tant because Pres­i­dent Putin was expected to attend the opening, so everyone was very intent on making sure every­thing worked.”

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