Technology aimed at improving energy efficiency and storage is crucial, now and into the future, as we look to reduce our dependency on the planet’s ever-decreasing natural resources. This is according to Pat Kiernan, senior project engineer with Dimplex Renewables.
Speaking at a presentation at Engineers Ireland HQ in Dublin, Kiernan explained the work the company has done in these areas, investing heavily in research and development in the last three years. Opened in 2009, Dimplex Renewables (DR) has two research laboratories based in Portadown, Co Armagh and Dunleer, Co Louth. As part of the Glen Dimplex group, DR is responsible for the research and development of a variety of products. These include ground and air source pumps, solar/thermal technologies, smart energy-management systems and smart radiators, mechanical ventilation units and heat-recovery units. The ground source heat pumps draw out heat held in the earth, while the air source pumps extract heat from the air. The pumps do not necessarily need to operate in a warm environment in order to extract the solar energy and can work in extreme conditions - as low as -25 degrees Centigrade. The pumps can be retrofitted or installed in new building developments to provide heat, hot water and cooling requirements, reducing energy costs by up to 70%.
The company’s smart radiators require 5% of the water of conventional radiators, but can heat a room twice as fast. In the research facility in Dunleer, engineers have gone to extraordinary lengths to trial and test the heating products. “We have a specific environmental room. It’s basically a living room with an outside wall that we can modify the temperatures to create a living room environment on demand,” explained Kiernan. “We can change between a winter cycle and a summer cycle. The main reason for this is so we can test the efficiency of the radiators,” he added. The company also develops its own software used in the testing, operation and maintenance of its products. Kiernan is clear as to the reasons for the development of such technologies, with business as well as environmental considerations playing a role. “The customer can get cheaper and greener electricity, and there's a facility to store electricity that can be used later on,” he said. Glen Dimplex has been producing heat pumps for over 30 years and has the capacity in its manufacturing facilities in Ireland, France and Germany to produce over 50,000 units per annum. It is the world’s leading manufacturer of electrical heating devices and has an extensive brand portfolio including well-known names such Belling, Morphy Richards, Valor and Roberts Radio. The company has over 10,000 employees with annual revenues of more than €2 billion.