The corona pandemic raised awareness again of the importance of fresh air in buildings. Good ventilation is essential for a healthy living environment inside homes, business premises, schools and hospitals. Mark Climate Technology from Veendam develops sustainable and innovative climate systems that provide heating, cooling and ventilation indoors. “We are currently focusing on the development of air heaters that run on 100% hydrogen gas,” says general manager Jan Koop de Boer.
The air quality in school buildings often leaves much to be desired. This is evident from research that was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education. More than a quarter of school buildings do not have their ventilation up to scratch, which is a huge problem in times of corona. Fresh air helps mitigate respiratory infections such as COVID-19. Also, students doze off in stuffy classrooms where there is not enough oxygen and too much CO2. This does not help their learning progress. “Before corona, there was also a Fresh Schools concept: schools where attention is paid to air quality and temperature levels, among other things. But corona shows us once again that fresh air is absolutely indispensable,” De Boer notes.
Simply open a window, right? It may be the easiest solution to freshen up the air in rooms. However, it is not really sustainable. Mark supplies complete climate systems that do just that. The units heat, cool and ventilate, while recapturing up to about 90% of the heat. A number of units are also equipped with a heat pump, which can be used for heating and cooling without natural gas. In addition, Mark supplies climate cabinets that kill viruses through the use of UV light or active oxygen – ideal in times of pandemics.
From Roman times
One cooling method that Mark is providing stands out from the rest. The method is based on an ancient concept that dates back to Roman times. And yet it is relatively innovative, even though it is rarely used nowadays. De Boer explains. “It’s called ‘adiabatic cooling.’ That’s a technique where air is cooled by allowing water to evaporate. It works in a very simple way. For example, you wet a piece of cardboard with a little water and let air blow past it. The moist air evaporates in the room and the heat required for evaporation will cause the temperature in the room to drop – sometimes by more than 10 degrees Celsius.
We mainly use this method in large industrial halls.”
The Groningen-based company is also innovating with hydrogen gas. By doing this, it is also contributing to the Dutch government’s goal of disconnecting hundreds of thousands of buildings from natural gas over the next few years. “We have a prototype ready for an air heater that runs on 100% hydrogen gas. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the availability of the right type of components and for the certificates that we need to do this.”
Currently, Mark still sources hydrogen from the gas expert Holthausen. “But I am very much in favor of the plan to feed hydrogen into the natural gas network,” says De Boer. This is not something solely for the future, by the way. In the dutch province of Zeeland, for example, a 12-kilometer hydrogen pipeline already connects the Dow Chemical and Yara chemical companies. Gas networks appear to be suitable for transporting hydrogen. In the future, conventional gas pipelines may be able to move large amounts of CO2-free energy to end users.
Innovative particulate filter
Mark’s equipment not only comes in handy indoors. Its sister company, StaticAir BV, is focused on innovative particulate filters that can be placed next to highways, for one thing. “They have developed a system whereby an electric cable charged with 50,000 volts runs along a grounded metal plate,” De Boer goes on to explain. “This gives the particulate matter a positive charge. The particulate matter is attracted to the grounded plate and all lumps together. This is how the fine particulates are filtered out of the air. In The Hague, 66 of these systems are now installed in a freeway tunnel -the Rotterdamse Baan- to capture particulate matter. There are also lots of these particulate filters hanging in Europe in such places as climbing halls, for example.”
The advantage of these electrostatic filters is considerable compared to regular filters. “The new filter is much more sustainable. With conventional filters, the hepa filters, air is forced through a filter with a great deal of resistance. That takes a lot of energy. Moreover, the filters quickly become dirty and must be replaced regularly. With the new filter, replacement is not necessary; just cleaning them is enough.”
Mark experienced tremendous growth over the course of the pandemic. Last year, about 30% more units were sold compared to the year before. Therefore, the time has come for expansion. De Boer: “We are going to ramp up production and have bought €3 million worth of new manufacturing equipment for both our location in Ireland and the facility in Veendam. Starting from April, we will be ready to double our production.”
De Boer predicts that this doubling is bound to be needed in the coming years. In 2023, building owners will have to meet even stricter requirements with respect to ventilation, for instance, and in 2030 these requirements will be made even more strict. “In any event, we are ready for all of that with our new manufacturing halls.”
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