The Competitive Advantage of Energy Recovery Wheels with Polymer Energy Transfer Matrix and Segmented Design

Posted 8 October, 2020 — News

Airxchange®, Inc. manufactures a variety of energy recovery wheels with outputs ranging from 100 to 60,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Airxchange® wheels feature a segmented energy transfer matrix that provides a simple yet effective means of optimizing energy transfer performance.

competitive advantage of polymer energy recovery wheel

Figure 1 Airxchange® structural metal wheel and frame assembly with removable polymer segments.

The energy transfer media of an Airxchange® wheel is:

  • Durable and innovative polymer material that has proven to last for over 30 years in comfort HVAC applications.
  • Polymer material is formed into a matrix and segmented for easy removal, making Airxchange® wheels both light and serviceable.
  • Supporting wheel structure is made of welded stainless steel or aluminum.
  • Unlike monolithic wheels, the supporting wheel structure does not depend on the energy transfer matrix for structural integrity, enabling the wheel to independently withstand the rigors of operation for decades.

For over 30 years, the Airxchange® polymer matrix has proven to be very durable in comparison to other materials, such as aluminum; the polymer matrix has superior resistance to mechanical impact, corrosion, scratches, and shifts in inertia. The use of polymer media allows the desiccants to be permanently bonded to the matrix without the use of an adhesive. The resultant mechanical bond ensures the desiccant will not rub off from normal wear, washing, or impact.

Aluminum based energy recovery wheels are typically made from rolls of .003-inch thick aluminum that are corrugated, wound, and fastened to a wheel frame to form a monolithic energy transfer wheel. Very large aluminum wheels are bolted together in sections to create an integrated wheel and energy transfer structure. Because the energy transfer material cannot be separated from the wheel structure, sections containing an aluminum wheel should be designed with a drain pan for cleaning in place. The desiccant is secured to the aluminum with epoxy glue, which has a tendency to weaken over time, resulting in a loss of performance.

Lifetime of Factory Performance

When necessary, Airxchange® wheels are designed to make the cleaning process fast and effective. Like coils, all rotary air-to-air energy recovery devices require cleaning over time in order to maintain latent performance. Unlike stationary heat exchangers, rotary energy recovery wheels are self-cleaning from dry dust and dirt as they rotate between two counter flowing air streams. In dry conditions, surface dust can be vacuumed from the wheel. When air streams are exposed to harsher compounds like oils, aerosols, or smoke, these contaminants will build on the surface of the matrix over time and reduce its effectiveness. In these cases, Airxchange®’s unique patented design allows for the segments to be easily removed and washed with no risk of losing performance. Independent

ADL/TIAX studies show that the Airxchange® energy transfer matrix is durable and that the desiccant coating remains intact when washed or soaked, which restores the latent performance of the wheel. Challenging environments are easily handled by Airxchange®’s stainless steel structure and polymer matrix designs. Seacoast (salt air) or pools (corrosive acid condensate) can be handled without special coatings on the transfer matrix.

If necessary, Airxchange® matrix segments are easily removed from the cabinet and can be soaked outside the unit instead of needing to spray a hose inside the unit, which requires special drain pans and places motor and electrical connections at some risk.

Airxchange® cassettes have a full 5-year warranty for all but the motor, which has a separate manufacturer’s warranty.