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Aircraft Hangar Cooling

   Author: Bill Buell
Location: Kentucky, USA

As soon as cold weather sets in, a significant difference between ceiling and floor temperatures makes working conditions very uncomfortable in even the newest metal aircraft hangers. If the hanger's employees are comfortable working on the floor, those working on the upper levels of the facility broil. And if the mezzanine-level workers are comfortable, the floor-level workers freeze. As a result, many directors of flight operations have begun searching for a solution that will terminate the perpetual thermostat tug-of-war. And they have found that solution in high-volume/low-speed Big Ass Fans.

Using 10 light-weight aluminum airfoils, a single 24 ft. ceiling fan from the HVLS Fan Company, based in Lexington, KY, moves a lot of air (about 140,000 cfm) very slowly (about 3 mph) over a large area (up to 20,000 sq. ft.). Using a 1 hp cycloidal 230/460 3 phase gear motor, the HVLS fan is quiet and very efficient, using just 370 watts of electricity and operating at a cost of about $.05/hour.

Because heat rises, a situation called "stratification" exists whereby there normally is a floor-to-ceiling temperature differential of approximately 1 degree per vertical foot. In a typical 10,000 sq. ft. Corporate aircraft hanger, therefore, ceilings that are 30' high will account for about a 30 degree difference in floor-to-ceiling temperature. By thoroughly mixing or destratifying the air, HVLS fans can virtually eliminate the temperature differential between the ceiling and the floor. With the fans in operation, thermostat settings can be reduced without any loss of employee comfort. And lower thermostat settings translate into a significant reduction in heating costs.

According to Joe Thompson, Director of Flight Operations Maintenance for the Ohio-based Cafaro Company, the onset of cold weather made for very uncomfortable working conditions in the company's 10,500 sq. ft. Aircraft hanger. If the thermostat were set so that the maintenance people were comfortable, the administrative staff working on the mezzanine would broil. If the administrators were comfortable, the workers on the floor froze. Thompson therefore became determined to find a way to terminate this seasonal thermostat tug-of-war. And he found it with a single 20' diameter high-volume/low-speed ceiling fan, designed to move a lot of air (125,000 cfm) very slowly (about 3 mph) throughout the entire facility.

The Cafaro aircraft hanger's 30' high ceilings accounted for a 30 degree difference in floor-to-ceiling temperature. However, by thoroughly mixing or destratifying the air, Cafaro's HVLS fan virtually eliminated this temperature differential, making working conditions comfortable throughout the entire facility.

Even more impressive was the impact of the HVLS fan on the facility's heating costs. The Cafaro hanger's natural gas usage in November 2000 was over 47 MCF. In November 2001, the natural gas consumption was just 11 MCF, a reduction in usage of 76%. Thompson attributes this savings solely to the operation of the HVLS fan, especially because both November 2000 and November 2001 had the identical number of degree days, a measure of heating energy demand. With similar savings anticipated for the rest of the heating season, Thompson expects a record payback for his HVLS fan.

Destratification is not the only benefit the big fan can provide. The cooling effect of the gentle movement of air during the summer months can create a reduction in a building's effective temperature of 6 to 8 degrees, improving summer as well as winter working conditions. And, in the case of big metal buildings with large doors that are open much of the time, such as aircraft hangers, the fans act like bird and bug repellant. Once a fan is installed, the birds' nests that were present prior to the installation of the fan will be quickly vacated, as the birds were terrified of the slowly moving airfoils. Birds that venture into the hanger thereafter will likewise beat a rapid retreat. Because birds and their business are not only a nuisance, but also can dirty and damage planes, operation of the fan will significantly reduce the maintenance costs for the planes and the building. Even flies and other insects seem to hate the fans and either stay far away or land on the floor and stay there, making eradication (i.e., squashing) easy.

Making working conditions more comfortable in hangars does not have to be expensive or complicated. At a cost of much less than other options that might be considered, HVLS fans can create a more pleasant working environment year round.

HVLS Fans range in size from 8 feet to 24 feet to fit in virtually any large or small hangar.

Comments: Aircraft Hangar Cooling

I heard osha is concerned about this...
By bill ireland
Post a comment > -

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