VOL. 130 | NO. 245 | Thursday, December 17, 2015
SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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Evaporcool Solutions Cools Off the Hot Air
By LANCE WIEDOWER
Evaporcool Solutions is doing its part for the environment from its home base in Memphis.
Founded in 2004, Evaporcool manufactures and sells energy efficient technology that is targeted for the commercial HVAC market across the U.S., with applicability around the world. Imagine a custom-built frame that is installed on the exterior of an air conditioning system.
Evaporcool plant manager James Rantzow peels back the filter used in the company’s proprietary EZ-Frame cooling system.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
It’s especially useful during the heat of summer when the outside temperature is 90 degrees or higher. As the compressor pulls in that air, it takes a greater amount of energy to cool it to the desired temperature, say 70 degrees.
But what if a cooling high-pressure mist of water blasts the hot air as it enters the system, meaning that 90-degree air is closer to 70 degrees before it even runs through the compressor. The result is an immediate reduction of energy consumption to get the air to the same desired temperature.
And the company continues to grow, as seen by last year’s addition of the Kemmons Wilson Cos. as a strategic equity investor. It works in the U.S., but the potential is global.
“We’re building a team across the country as we see a huge opportunity,” said Ben Taube, senior vice president at Evaporcool. “This is a global opportunity because if you look around the world what’s driving energy consumption is the need for air conditioning.”
The Evaporcool system has smart control technology that uses a variety of data sensor inputs in real time to know the temperature. A microprocessor computer is embedded in the technology that analyzes the outside temperature and blasts the proper cold stream of water to get the temp to 70 degrees.
The system doesn’t spray out a constant stream of cold water. In fact, the water sprays in short 10-second bursts.
“We do that on purpose so we don’t waste water,” Taube said.
The technology that today is known as the Evaporcool system was based on finding an innovative way to capture cool water that could be used in an evaporative cooling process in a residential setting. A group of founders led by Sheldon Smith, the current chairman of the company, realized an immediate need in the commercial sector that could revolutionize cooling systems.
Since that time, the focus has been on commercial applications. That early system was built with hand tools and materials bought at a hardware store. Today, the system is developed by a team of engineers, product designers and HVAC technicians.
While all of Evaporcool’s customers are in the commercial realm, it’s not just a corporate office here and a retail outlet there. The company works with HVAC equipment manufacturers who put the system on units directly out of the factory, as well as on units they service.
Evaporcool also works with commercial HVAC servicing companies that maintain units for customers.
“Maybe somewhere like Tucson, Arizona, where it’s 112 outside. It’s impossible to keep a unit online. But if we can reduce that temperature by 20 degrees, it’s night and day for them.”
Independently, Evaporcool’s sales team will work with businesses interested in adding the technology to their HVAC systems. And a fourth target is utility companies.
“The utility market is changing and they’re looking for solutions,” Taube said. “It’s cheaper to reduce consumption at the end user than it is to build plants. You can reduce electricity for them and you can reduce the cost at these power plants.”
On this front, Evaporcool Solutions, in partnership with NRG Energy, was awarded a contract in November for the Local Capacity Requirement Preferred Resource Program, a long-term plan to enhance electric grid reliability by developing portfolios of new, clean energy resources by 2022 in Southern California.
Evaporcool will work to reduce electricity consumption of commercial air conditioning by 72.5 megawatts in the Southern California Edison footprint. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the contract that enables Evaporcool to market, install and commission its precooling systems throughout Southern California.
The reduction of 72.5 megawatts of power is equal to reducing the power consumption of 72,500 residential homes annually. Evaporcool will target commercial air conditioning systems that are larger than 20 tons.
“There’s not just one standard typical customer,” Taube said. “We find that our sales are pretty diverse to the end user. Many times we’re working with customers who have air conditioning issues. Maybe somewhere like Tucson, Arizona, where it’s 112 outside. It’s impossible to keep a unit online. But if we can reduce that temperature by 20 degrees, it’s night and day for them.”
Other customers might have sustainability goals or needs for better operational efficiencies.
The Memphis headquarters, at 5100 Willfong Lane just off Covington Pike, houses the executive and sales teams, engineering department and manufacturing facility. The frames and components are assembled in the plant according to measurements for each unit, whether 20 or 100 tons.
That’s also where the engineering department works to evolve the technology of the product.
“You live and learn from experiences in the field,” Taube said. “From the early days to today we’ve made significant revisions that make it more user friendly.”
Those include changing how the system is attached to AC units. In the beginning it was attached via screws, but now magnets make it easier to move. And the filtering system is now held on with Velcro, offering easier access for servicing.