The Lubi-brand device supplements a natural gas-fired unit at a Bombardier research and development facility in Mirabel, Quebec, by preheating wintertime outdoor air for the 40,000-square-foot, 52-foot-tall, hangar-style building.
The collector, which retails for about $40,000, has an expected payback period of under two years. Project costs were reduced with incentives from government agency Natural Resources Canada and a rebate from the Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) of natural gas utility Gaz Metro.
The 145-foot-wide, 12-foot-high solar collector is designed to look like architectural windows, and covers about 25 percent of the 7,600-square-foot masonry wall. It is expected to save the aircraft manufacturer C$5,000 in natural gas costs per year, and last at least 20 years.
Bombardier said that solar heating hasn’t appealed in the past because the company has set a two-year maximum payback period for such projects.
“In 2008 we analyzed all types of equipment with a goal of reducing our electric and natural gas consumption,” said Serge Dumont, plant engineering and tooling manager for the commercial aircraft division. “We decided only projects with a two-year payback or less would give us the most effective return on investment.”
The Lubi product, developed and manufactured by Quebec-based Enerconcept Technologies, is the world’s most efficient solar product according to the National Solar Test Facility (NSTF), Bombardier says.
Bombardier says the Lubi could have yielded an even greater payback, but it faced several site challenges. The collector is mounted on a west wall instead of an optimum south wall exposure, which was decided against because of a future building project.
A larger solar collector could also have provided more heating. But Bombardier chose the Lubi’s size to provide the capacity of preheated air required by the building’s existing rooftop make-up air unit.
Picture credit: Enerconcept Technologies