HVAC molded in plastics

Carrier and GE Plastics in joint effort develop components. GE Living Environments house is the showcase. In a three-phase developmental program, Carrier Corp., Syracuse, has joined GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., to determine the extent to which plastics can be used in HVAC applications.

GE’s 3,000-sq.-ft. Living Environments concept house in Pittsfield is the testing ground for the program. (See “Is an All-Plastic House in Your Future?” in December’s Managers Update.)

“Carrier is working with GE Plastics on this project to develop low-cost heating and air-conditioning components that are high in quality and reliability,” says Ian Shapiro, Carrier senior engineer.

Carrier supplied and helped install state-of-the-art equipment in the house.

Phase I of the program embraces applications that are in production or will be within the year.

Applications and material used are:

  • Air-conditioner control boxes–LEXAN [R] resin.
  • Thermostats and controls–CYCOLAC [R] resin.
  • Draft inducers, drain pans and furnace-header boxes–VALOX [R] resin.
  • Flue pipe–ULTEM [R] resin.

Design for Manufacturing

Phase II projects are still in development, with commercialization anywhere from one year to four years away.

The Phase II gas furnace uses engineering thermoplastics for styling, performance, and design-for-manufacturability advantages.

The added efficiency that tomorrow’s furnaces will require is enhanced by the use of corrosion-resistant insulative materials, according to Kevin Quinn, HVAC programs specialist for GE Plastics.

The furnace’s enclosure is of highly styled, impact-resistant structural and insulative panels of LEXAN and XENOY [R] resins. The panels provide thermal and acoustical insulation along with the durability that engineering plastics offer.

Several new applications for the working (internal) components are also under development.

Five comfort appliances

Phase III projects are conceptual applications in the early research and developmental stage. These projects aren’t targeted for commercialization for four or more years.

The heart of Living Environments is the Total Environmental Control (TEC) system. Five home-comfort appliances combine in this residential heating and cooling unit that uses thermoplastics for light weight, easy installation and service, aesthetics, corrosion resistance, durability, and component integration.

The TEC system performs heating, air conditioning, humidifying, water heating, and air filtering, with add-on capabilities for extra functions such as wasteheat recovery and ventilating.

Modularity allows user flexibility and enhances serviceability, explains Quinn.

A basic heat and hot-water system easily accommodates slide-in components. A malfunctioning component is easily diagnosed with a hand-held monitor and can be replaced immediately without shutting down the entire system. Piping and wiring are easily accessed by pop-off panels.

Snap fits and automatic electric power and control connections ease installation.

  • The TEC system includes:
  • Blow-molded panels made of LEXAN and XENOY resins with foam fill for thermal and sound insulation.
  • Primary blower wheel and housing of NORYL [R] resin.
  • Plate fin heat-exchanger components of either NORYL, ULTEM, or SUPEC [TM] resins, depending on the heat resistance required.

High-strength AZDEL [TM] technopolymer structures are under consideration for structural bases and heat shields.

TEC will operate on different power sources, providing versatility for the different systems it comprises.

GE Plastics and Carrier are designing plastics for HVAC to meet UL 746C guidelines and American National Standard Institute’s proposed Standard Z21.

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