© Photo | KD Busch

Cool coop­er­a­tion

Better air conduc­tion, easy main­te­nance and high effi­ciency. That is what GEA Küba achieved when redesigning an air cooler in close coop­er­a­tion with ebm-papst

When air cooler manu­fac­turers design a new product, the process normally goes as follows. First the engi­neers develop the entire unit, then they look for a fan with the right oper­ating point. A project by GEA Küba GmbH shows that it is worth rethinking this process, after they devel­oped their new air cooler together with ebm-papst right from the start. “As our product had already been on the market for a few years, we planned a complete redesign”, explains Steven Duncan, Director of Tech­nology, Research and Devel­op­ment at GEA Küba. “We brought ebm-papst on board from day one so we could perfectly attune all the compo­nents to each other.”

At the start of the project, Duncan and his colleagues from R & D got together with Manager of Service and Product Manage­ment Mathias Lich and Thomas Heli, Head of Devel­op­ment at ebm-papst, to put their heads together. The team began by deter­mining what the require­ments were for the air cooler. These have become more and more demanding in the past few years, as today’s customers expect effi­cient systems with high air throw that can also be easily cleaned and main­tained. Air coolers are often used in food refrig­er­a­tion, meaning addi­tional strict hygiene require­ments for the devices used. In order to meet all these expec­ta­tions, the teams from ebm-papst and GEA Küba priori­tised improving the air conduc­tion in the cold store. “We use so-called air-guiding systems to increase the air throw”, explains Thomas Heli. “They reduce the swirl from the stream of cooling air coming from the air cooler. This prevents the air flow from bursting and the cooling air reaches every last corner of a room.”

In the EC version, the energy consump­tion is 30 percent lower compared to AC tech­nology. In some cases even up to 67 percent.

Steven Duncan, GEA Küba

This task was previ­ously fulfilled adequately enough by honey­comb-like air-guiding systems, but effi­ciency was low. The reason for this was that although the previous compo­nent guided the air correctly, it also caused a high loss of pres­sure, which led to a reduced air flow. This meant that the power of the fan was not being imple­mented as well as it could. The solu­tion that the part­ners found is an air-guiding system newly devel­oped by ebm-papst, which directs the air without signif­i­cantly reducing the air flow. This helped the air cooler to double the air throw compared to the solu­tion without an air-guiding system. To achieve this, the project teams of the partner compa­nies, both in tech­nical and commer­cial areas, worked together like a well-oiled machine to imple­ment new ideas quickly and easily.

Effi­ciency gets another signif­i­cant boost when the air cooler is fitted with an AxiCool EC fan. “In this version, the energy consump­tion is 30 percent lower compared to AC tech­nology,” explains Steven Duncan. “In some cases even up to 67 percent.” The EC motor version offers the addi­tional advan­tage of conveying much less heat into the cold store and can be easily controlled from 0 to 10 volts according to require­ments via a signal.

An impor­tant factor for customers is being able to clean and main­tain the air cooler easily.

Mathias Lich, GEA Küba

But when it comes to actu­ally using the fans, effi­ciency and strong air flow are not every­thing. “Another impor­tant factor for customers is being able to clean and main­tain the air cooler easily,” says Matthias Lich. That is why all air conduc­tion compo­nents in the air-guiding system are made from high-quality plastic. As well as opening up new possi­bil­i­ties in design, these mate­rials also offer further advan­tages. Mathias Lich: “These mate­rials help us achieve very smooth surfaces that are not vulner­able to corro­sion. This is espe­cially impor­tant in the food industry. The plas­tics are also less sensi­tive to aggres­sive cleaning prod­ucts.”


Exclu­sively for GEA Küba, ebm-papst inte­grated the terminal box for connecting the AxiCool fan into the hinge.

Cleaning is also made easier due to the fact that the wall ring is mounted on a hinge, meaning it can be folded out to the side when cleaning the heat exchanger. Exclu­sively for GEA Küba, ebm-papst inte­grated the terminal box for connecting the AxiCool fan into the hinge, saving space and keeping the design of the air cooler simple. At a team meeting, Lich, Duncan and Heli noticed another advan­tage provided by the new plastic wall ring: it is hollow and designed in a way that allows a heating tape to be inte­grated. “By specif­i­cally heating the inner side of the wall ring, we are able to much more effi­ciently prevent the forma­tion of so-called ice bridges that cause the fan blades to freeze up”, says Mathias Lich. As the heating tape is no longer mounted on an open wall ring from outside as was previ­ously the case, it now only works where it is really needed, thus making the wall ring heating up to 80 percent more effi­cient.


Our compa­nies share the same under­standing of quality and coop­er­a­tive part­ner­ship.

Thomas Heli, ebm-papst

The new series of air coolers has been on the market for just over a year and the feed­back from customers has been consis­tently posi­tive. The project part­ners, too, are happy with the results. Thomas Heli: “Thanks to the excel­lent rela­tion­ship of trust, we in the entire inter­dis­ci­pli­nary team were able to work with a high degree of moti­va­tion. It is also a big help that our compa­nies share the same under­standing of quality and coop­er­a­tive part­ner­ship.” Mathias Lich adds: “After this extremely posi­tive expe­ri­ence, we will continue to work on devel­op­ments with ebm-papst in the future.”


AxiCool-GEA-Kueba AxiCool fans set a new market stan­dard for eva­pora­tors and cooling units with the perfect inter­action of indi­vidual compo­nents. The compact axial fans impress with simple handling, top effi­ciency in every regard and careful resource pre­servation. Conve­nient service, ease of oper­a­tion and excel­lent air throw round off the posi­tive features. As the fan can be mounted with just four screws, they are “plug and play” solu­tions in the truest sense of the phrase.


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Axial fan AxiCool

AxiCool fans for evaporators and cooling units