An air handler, or air handling unit (often abbreviated to AHU), is a device used to regulate and circulate air as part of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. An air handler is usually a large metal box containing a blower, heating or cooling elements, filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, and dampers. Air handlers usually connect to a ductwork ventilation system that distributes the conditioned air through the offshore unit and returns it to the AHU. Sometimes AHUs discharge (supply) and admit (return) air directly to and from the space served without ductwork. Small air handlers, for local use, are called terminal units, and may only include an air filter, coil, and blower; these simple terminal units are called blower coils or fan coil units. A larger air handler that conditions 100% outside air, and no re-circulated air, is known as a makeup air unit (MAU). An air handler designed for outdoor use, typically on roofs, is known as a packaged unit (PU) or rooftop unit (RTU).
Of note is the fact that waste heat powered air handlers are growing in prominence. Some of the factors that contribute to this are the growing focus on solar power as a cost effective renewable energy source which is benefiting demand for solar ventilation units, and the phase-out of fluorocarbon based refrigerants by all governments worldwide to curb the damage caused to the ozone layer. Some of the minor but notable factors are the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to tackle climate change, rising energy prices, interest in energy conservation and the robust demand from developing countries. Although there are a lot of growth drivers cost is the primary constraint on the widespread adoption of air handling systems. Moreover, the low thermal efficiency of single-effect handlers has made them non-competitive with readily available free waste heat. Furthermore, air handlers require greater pump energy and larger cooling tower capacity than electric chillers due to the larger volume of water. Opportunity in this industry is widespread due to the availability of low cost units from some manufacturers and the fact that heat from waste can be utilized in an efficient manner.
The offshore air handling industry is diversified and can be divided on the basis of energy supply as direct-fired or indirect-fired. They can also be divided based on effect as: (a) Single Effect where the transfer of fluids is through the four major components of the handling machine - evaporator, absorber, generator and condenser; (b) Double Effect which differs from the single-effect chiller in that there are two condensers and two generators to allow for more refrigerant boil-off from the absorbent solution; and (c) Triple Effect handlers that are under development, as the next step in the evolution of the Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) technology.
The Asia-Pacific region is currently the largest and the fastest growing market for air handling units with leading demand coming from developing countries such as India, China and countries in the Malay Archipelago. Soaring temperatures in the U.S. and Mexico are contributing to the demand in the North American region. European countries such as Italy, Spain, U.K., France and Russia have been the leading countries where demand is high. Change in government regulations as well as availability of energy generated from waste are being seen as the demand factors in the Rest of the World, mostly Latin America.
The front-runners in the production of offshore air handling systems are: Broad Air Conditioning Co., Ltd., Carrier Corporation, Century Corporation, EAW Energieanlagenbau GmbH, Hitachi Appliances Inc., Johnson Controls, LG Air Conditioning (Shandong) Co., Ltd., Robur Corporation, Thermax Inc., Trane Inc., and Yazaki Energy Systems Inc.
This research report analyzes this market on the basis of its market segments, major geographies, and current market trends. Geographies analyzed under this research report include
- North America
- Asia Pacific
- Rest of the World
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