Chillers and toasts

US celebrates the launch of its new air-conditioning system in Geneva

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The US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva recently celebrated the official launch of its new air-conditioning system. This marked the introduction of the first large-tonnage magnetic levitation (MagLev) bearing chiller in Europe. (Though not the first application of MagLev technology in the world – that occurred on Earth Day in 2007, at the US Embassy in Tokyo.)

William Dowell of The Global Post reported rather breathlessly how “a select group of journalists and civil engineering aficionados” were greeted by waiters trundling trolleys around loaded with chiller cocktails and dry ice for added effect. In case you were wondering, the recipe is as follows:

Three parts Midori melon liqueur

Two parts Schweppes tonic water

Half Part lime juice

The Mission’s cutting-edge technology showcases a system that uses no lubrication oil and a minimal amount of refrigerant compared with traditional systems. This is a long-awaited commercial application of a solution to a decades-old engineering dilemma of how to maintain a magnetic levitation motor shaft within microscopic tolerances.

Magnetic levitation dates back to the 1940s, but modern electronic control was needed to turn it into a practical reality. See page 30 for our report on this technology and its sustainability potential for the HVAC industry.

Back home, another toast is due the UAE construction industry, where new research claims that more than 200 construction projects are due to be completed during the first half of this year. Astonishingly, this is more than the entire figure for 2008, claims industry analyst Proleads. The research states that only 2,4% of the 1,289 UAE construction projects, worth US $1,28 trillion, that were under way at the start of 2009 have actually been cancelled. This means that about 135 projects are on schedule to be completed in the first quarter of 2009, with another 70 to be finished in the second quarter, compared with 184 overall last year.

The figures were highlighted as development plans were released for The Big 5, one of the world’s largest trade shows for the construction industry and associated suppliers, which takes place in Dubai in November (and which MEP Middle East covers extensively in a special preview issue.)

Despite the recession’s negative effects on the construction sector, companies like the Al Nawi Group, the UAE representative of Finnish manufacturer Scanclimber, sees a silver lining for the construction equipment business and the industry as a whole.

“The construction industry is witnessing a slowdown at the moment, but I believe things will start picking up again by the end of the year,” was GM Aamer Hammoudi’s confident prediction.

“With several construction projects still under way, and a huge amount of development to be reinstated when the current climate eases, it is very clear that this region needs a plant, machinery and vehicles show of this magnitude,” commented Nick Webb, director of Streamline Marketing Group, organiser of The Big 5.

Such positive sentiment bodes well for the MEP sector, which is mutually dependent on a healthy pipeline of projects in the construction industry. All indications are that not only is business normalising, but that new opportunities will soon emerge.

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