Restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King may be considering new solar thermal powered dehumidifier HVAC systems.
DCA Systems Inc. says it was approached by the above companies and others including hotel chains, extended care facilities and government agencies for the system, according to a press release. The company says smaller versions of the Solar Alternate Energy system can also be designed for installations in homes, trains, planes and automobiles.
DCA says the HVAC system can easily replace any standard roof-top unit without making any changes to the installed ducting system. The company estimates that businesses can reduce their energy usage by 15 to 30 percent with the retrofit. The new system also eliminates the need for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or other gaseous chemicals.
The initial design for the DCA-Cornerstone solar thermal powered dehumidifier HVAC system was developed for a major hotel chain that was looking to reduce its energy power cost by 30 percent by using solar energy.
The system, consisting of roof-top solar collectors integrated with DCA’s HVAC system using evacuated tubes, heat pumps and other proprietary solar equipment, were installed at KFC, McDonald’s and Sonny’s Bar BQ fast-food restaurants in Florida and Mississippi in the early 1990’s as an experimental test, says DCA.
After installation of the DCA system, the restaurants reduced their cooling load by 60 percent in the kitchen and dining areas. DCA says temperatures dropped from 98 degrees to an average of 75 degrees, reducing the humidity levels from 70 percent to 50 percent and 55 percent in most cases. In addition, many of these restaurants no longer required cooling in the kitchen due to the reduction of humidity in the air.
The experiment was a joint effort sponsored by TECO Energy, The City of Tampa, Department of Energy and the University of South Florida who set up a monitoring station to measure the output at 38 separate data points.
DCA Systems also has been selected to participate in a government sponsored Solar Power Alternative Energy Innovation competition.