Coronavirus hospital benefits from air filtration installation

17th April 2020
Lanna Cooper

WEG has replaced the ventilation fan drive system at Manchester Central as part of an efficiency project to help the venue achieve ISO 20121 standard for sustainability. Now, as the venue is transformed into the NHS Nightingale North West, the air system must withstand the requirements of a much-needed temporary hospital.

Formerly a railway station, Manchester Central was transformed into an events space in 1986. During the last fortnight, the venue has been transformed dramatically into the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital. Having been built in just 14 days, the hospital is equipped to care for up to 750 coronavirus patients from across the region.

In such vast spaces, like the central hall of Manchester Central, the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems must be powerful enough to efficiently heat and cool the area, without needlessly wasting energy. However, HVAC systems in hospitals play a more complex role. They are responsible for keeping indoor air quality high and providing a safe temperature for patients and staff.

The air system - while not specifically designed for the needs of an unprecedented hospital - will allow the convention centre to maintain high levels of air quality as it treats coronavirus patients.

Prior to the upgrade, the system used several fans, fixed speed motors and dampers. This system ran either at full power, or not at all, relying on dampers to control the air flow. To improve efficiency, it was decided the motors and dampers should be replaced with modern equivalents, fitted with controls connected to a new interactive Building Management System (BMS).

It is this integration with a BMS that will prove to be incredibly valuable during the centre’s deployment as the NHS Nightingale North West hospital.

When combined with an intelligent interactive BMS, the W22 IE3 energy efficient motors and the CFW11 variable speed drives will allow the facility to tailor the needs of air flow depending on the usage requirements of the venue. Usually, this would be limited to hobbyist fairs, business conferences and entertainment events. Now, the venue will provide medical care and oxygen therapy for patients that have been discharged from Intensive Care Units (ICU).

The ability to integrate the ventilation system into the BMS provides peace of mind and the ability to check the whole system over the internet. In combination with the WiFi network in the venue, maintenance teams can control the entire BMS, including the ventilation system, remotely with a tablet computer.

The original project was completed to improve efficiency at Manchester Central as an exhibition space and achieved an impressive 30% annual reduction in energy costs and ROI of less than nine months. HVAC systems are major consumers of energy in almost all types of facility. However, this can be particularly high in hospital settings. In fact, it is estimated that air and space heating is responsible for 44% of total energy consumption in UK hospitals.

Now, as the 10,000 square feet Manchester Central hall has been converted into hospital bed space, an intelligent and efficient HVAC system will become even more critical to support NHS efforts to fight coronavirus.

“Air control at a healthcare facility is critical,” explained Marek Lukaszczyk, European & Middle East Marketing Manager at WEG. “As well as providing patients and medical staff with comfort, equipment in healthcare facilities can often be sensitive to temperature changes and require perfect air control to function well.“

"While it is temporary, the NHS Nightingale North West will require the same careful air flow control as any longstanding and established medical facility. From WEG to the NHS, we applaud the fantastic effort to establish this hospital in just two weeks.”

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