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Something cool is going on at the Royal Albert Hall

Before the Gϋntner units were installed, in time for the 2014 Proms season, there was an existing 250kW condenser- less chiller coupled with 4 x 80kW duty standby temporary chillers that served the building. Delivery of design conditions into the Hall was restricted by the undersized primary plant so plans were put in place to open up plant areas and, with Gϋntner’s adiabatic package, the Hall is now served by 800kW of primary plant ensuring that the design conditions are achieved.

Prior to 2014, the million-plus people who visited the Hall for concerts and other events annually sometimes faced overheated conditions out of keeping with the majesty of the surroundings. That has been improved since the Gϋntner system became operational. Consisting of a total of six S-GFV adiabatic coolers, a UV water treatment system and associated controls, the system cools the condensing water of the chillers which in turn cool a large section of the building including the lower section of the auditorium and the stage, maintaining them at a comfortable temperature and, crucially, also providing a high degree of controllability.

Anti-Legionella and planning compliant

In order to avoid the risk of Legionella and other waterborne bacteria, the Gϋntner adiabatic cooling system has been designed to conform to the requirements of ACOP L8 Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems and incorporates a number of important safety features.

All the water used for the spray system is supplied via an Adiabatic Control Box (ACB). Any water in the supply pipe is set to drain for a fixed period prior to spraying, to eliminate the risk of stagnant water. A powerful Ultraviolet lamp doses all water passing through the spray system with intense UV radiation, which is lethal to pathogens.

When the system calls for adiabatic cooling, the UV lamp is energised and the main solenoid activated. Water is flushed through the system and out to drain to remove any residual water that may have been left in the system. After a pre-determined interval, the drain valve closes and the booster pump starts to increase the pressure and atomise the water leaving the spray nozzles. Should the system develop a fault, such as UV lamp failure, the system automatically shuts down and a fault signal is generated.

Grade I listed 

Apart from the efficiency, functionality and safety of the system, one of its principal benefits was the flexibility provided by its modular design which became particularly important when the installation was being planned. Not only is the Royal Albert Hall a notable Victorian building, it is also Grade I listed, which means that any changes – internal or external – are strictly regulated.

The Gϋntner equipment had to be installed in such a way that visual and noise intrusion were kept to a minimum. Not only did the installation have to be achieved in a very tight time frame in order to fit in with major events but the impact on residents living in close proximity to the Hall also had to be taken into account. In the event, after careful planning and consultation with major bodies such as English Heritage, the kit was accommodated into a tight space close to the Hall’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Steps, with minimum disruption to the show schedule or local residents.

The system has now been in operation for more than a year and according to Peter Barnes, the Hall’s Building Services Manager, is performing perfectly. “We are delighted with the effects of the Gϋntner system, which has helped us to keep our iconic building at a comfortable temperature during the hottest months of the year, so audiences can forget about the weather and enjoy an unrivalled programme of events.”

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