© 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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