Source: eKapija | Wednesday, 13.03.2019.| 12:09
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(AUREA 2019 AWARD NOMINATION): PropSafe - Redesigned heat pumps with R290 gas

The Knjazevac-based company Alfa Klima, which specializes in the production of thermal equipment in the fields of air conditioning, cooling and ventilation, is the author of the innovative design of heat pumps with the R290 gas, under the PropSafe trademark.

Heat pumps are the most efficient heating, cooling and drying devices, but the bad thing is that they use HFC gases, which, if they leak, contribute to global warming. That is why, under the Kigali Protocol, these gases should be banned by 2020 in the most development countries and then gradually by 2035 worldwide.

Heat pump manufacturers have therefore been forced to find an adequate solution to replace HFC gases. The R290 gas, which is flammable at 470 degrees Celsius and which can be ignited by a spark from electrical components if it leaks, still turned out to be the best solution. World companies have solved the problem by installing electrical components with a safety switch. Alfa Klima has gone a step further, solving the problem in a much cheaper and more efficient way with its PropSafe project.
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INNOVATION
PropSafe is an innovative solution that guarantees 100% safety and costs 30% less to produce. This is the only such solution in the world. The company applied for a patent, and the Patent Institute is now to prepare a report on the technology.

Although heat pumps are the most efficient heating, cooling and drying devices, they also have a flaw, that is, the use of HFC gases. If they leak, they contribute to global warming. That is why they will be banned by 2020 in the most development countries and then gradually by 2035 worldwide.

The best gas to replace HFC in heat pumps of up to 20 kW is propane R290. However, the problem is that it is flammable at 470 degrees Celsius, so there is a danger of it getting ignited by sparks from the electrical components. That is why European companies needed to install safety electric switches in heat pumps. However, this solution raises the price of a heat pump by 30%, as these components are up to 10 times more expensive than regular electric components.

In order to avoid this, engineers at Alfa Klima have developed an innovative design of heat pumps with the R290 gas under the PropSafe trademark. The company has redesigned the way the system is assembled, and thanks to this solution, electrical components with safety switches are not needed. This way, the price remains the same, and the company has become a leader in the world market.

Equal safety, 30% lower price and the first (and only) company with this kind of solution in the market – these are Alfa Klima's mottos.

The company's efforts have been recognized by the European Commission and the innovation was supported with grants within the Horizon 2020 program in 2017/2018.

In 2018, the company also started making a line for the serial production of heat pumps of up to 10 kW, as it had been determined that these are the most frequently used products. This investment was supported by the Innovation Fund of the Republic of Serbia with grants for the development of serial production in 2018-2020. The pilot project is expected to start in May 2019.

It's important to note that Alfa Klima is the only company from the Balkans which produces heat pumps. Numerous European companies have offered cooperation so far. A cooperation agreement was signed with one of the leading producers of pellet furnaces, Italy's Palazzetti.

Heat pumps produced by Alfa Klima will therefore be installed in the Italian producer's pellet furnaces, making it the only company that offers its customers combined summer and winter solutions. This is another important innovation with great potential, as it covers a very large market. Today, there are around 18 million pellet and wood furnaces in Europe that will need to be replaced by 2023 because they don't meet the criteria. This cooperation will then be a great step forward in Alfa Klima's operations.
(Photo: Willyam Bradberry/shutterstock.com)

SOCIAL USEFULNESS
The social usefulness of replacing HFC gases with alternatives has been confirmed by the Paris Agreement. Alfa Klima is the only company from Serbia to start designing and producing a new generation of heat pumps based on this agreement. The product will not only help reduce the consumption of electrical energy (still primarily produced from coal in Serbia), but also directly contribute to addressing the problem of global warming.

In addition to the positive impact on the environment, Alfa Klima's successful operations are also beneficial to the local community, as reflected in the increase of exports and tax revenues, as well as in the creation of new jobs.

An increase of employment by 12% in the existing production capacities is expected. The beginning of serial production, which is expected in 2021, should create another 200 jobs.

The company's position in Knjazevac contributes considerably to the economic progress of this underdeveloped area.
(Photo: Number1411/shutterstock.com)

FINANCIAL POTENTIAL
Alfa Klima is the only Serbian company which has been producing heat pump systems for 20 years – everyone else merely assembles imported components. So far, it has realized over 3,000 installations. Alfa Klima's operations have been innovative since the company's founding. Several new solutions are sold in the world, primarily through Emerson Climate Technology, the biggest producer and distributor of heat pump components in the world.

PropSafe heat pumps are produced at Alfa Klima per order for large clients (factories, hotels, restaurants, hypermarkets) since 2018. Thanks to this innovation, Alfa Klima increased its total revenues in 2018 by 26%, and the orders received for 2019 point to an even higher growth.

With the support of the Innovation Fund of the Republic of Serbia, the serial production for households and smaller commercial clients is expected to start in late 2019 and reach its full capacity by the end of 2020. With this production, Alfa Klima's income will increase four times.

The income from the PropSafe technology is expected to grow exponentially after 2020, when the income from the licensing of the PropSafe solution to other European producers is expected to start coming in. In Europe, around 1.2 million heat pumps are installed a year. By capturing only 1% of that market through licensing, Alfa Klima secures a long-term stable income which it will put into new innovations.
If the PropSafe heat pump is your investment of the year favorite, you can vote for it at Aurea's official website.
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