What are the environmental benefits of using fabric ducting technology?

In order to discuss the various environmental benefits that come through use of Fabric Ducting as an air diffusion product, it’s probably best to explain fabric ducting as a product group and what it’s used for.

Fabric Ducting – an overview

Fabric ducting is a product that can (1) transport air and (2) diffuse air. Typically fabric ducting systems are mounted in a room – they are visible and deliver air into the space. Fabric ducts are made from polyester material that is sewn into a variety of shapes and diameters to suit the application requirements.

Our fabric ducts are made to order, they are not a stock item. Every single system is designed specifically for that particular project and its unique requirements. Air volume, available pressure, supply air temperatures, mounting height, air throw distance and air velocity requirements in the occupied zone will all be unique for each different application. Hence every project being bespoke.

Although fabric ducting can be used in roof voids or for underfloor heating applications it is typically to be found in the room. Any room size is suitable for a product that is custom made for that space, but fabric ducting does suit large open architecture spaces particularly well, offering significant installation and operational savings and excellent performance.

With a variety of material options, fabric ducting can provide an appropriate technical and visual solution for almost any space. Additionally, different methods of diffusing air through the material (from low velocity micro-perforations to long throw fabric jet nozzles) create a bespoke product that can offer strong and technically robust air distribution solutions for most applications.

Applications range from: swimming pools, gyms and sports halls; to classrooms, offices, warehouses, laboratories, food manufacturing and storage; retail spaces, military applications, hospitals and exhibition and arena spaces. Warranty is long, usually 10 years and Prihoda systems offer a standard range of 9 colours at no additional cost, plus options for printing logos, patterns or special colours if required, ensuring that aesthetics is considered just as important as performance.

Environmental considerations

There are various and multiple reasons for choosing to specify or use a fabric ducting system as a diffuser within a space – most of these are easily quantifiable in terms of material, weight or associated benefits and savings, we’ll look at these first….

Embodied carbon

Fabric Ducting is made from Polyester material (this is available from Prihoda as 100% recycled material made from plastic bottles – more on this later). It will usually be replacing galvanised sheet steel and manufactured diffusers. Looking at embodied carbon – polyester fabric ducting has over 18 times less embodied carbon per m2 of material than galvanised sheet steel (16.56MJ/m2 for polyester compared to 307.71MJ/m2 for 20 gauge galvanised sheet steel – please contact us for the calculation and references for this if required). This is because the fabric ducting is so much lighter than the galvanised sheet steel.

Lightweight

Because a fabric ducting system is lightweight this produces a wide variety of associated cost and environmental savings for example:

  • Less cost and energy to transport
  • Less packaging materials used as the system collapses flat and is light weight
  • Recyclable packing materials (all ducts supplied in cardboard boxes)
  • Less space taken up on site for storage

Installation

Because it is light weight, fabric ducting systems create multiple environmental and cost benefits during installation…..

  • Less secondary steelwork required for supporting the system
  • The system is supplied with aluminium suspension systems – meaning around 70% of this is already from recycled content on average and is also completely recyclable.
  • Installation time for a fabric system is around one quarter that of an equivalent galvanised steel system resulting in huge labour savings, less site disruption and energy savings associated with energy usage for travel, accommodation and powered access equipment etc.

Made to order

This is actually an important point in terms of energy efficiency because the fabric ducting system is made to suit the space specifically with a duct size, length and air pattern designed to provide an optimum environment within the space resulting in……

  • Less waste (no alteration or cutting on site needed)
  • Better air distribution creating a homogenous comfortable environment meaning….
  • Better temperature control and less energy usage
  • Less fluctuation with the AHU plant air volumes and temperatures

No insulation required

When cooling below dew point traditional systems require a layer of insulation to avoid condensation occurring on the duct surface – Prihoda fabric ducting systems use a permeable material which allows a small quantity of the air through the fabric ducting weave this creates a film of air around the duct stopping any ambient air from touching the surface of the material and completely avoiding any condensation issues. This result is a huge saving in the use of insulated material in terms of the cost, time to install and the energy used to manufacture and ship these materials.

Low pressure

Most systems work on a pressure of around 120pa – with only a fraction of the pressure being lost to pressure drop along the duct typically, and the rest being used to inflate the duct and distribute the air within the space. As fabric ducting systems are usually self balancing this creates more large pressure and energy (and cost) savings by reducing pressure drop through dampers controlling different branches in the system.

Recycled material

Prihoda produce a duct made 100% from recycled material – it’s made from recycled plastic bottles and re-utilises the equivalent of 13 x 500ml plastic bottles per m2 of material used. In practical terms a Ø710mm duct x 10m long made from Prihoda recycled material would re-utilise 290 x 500ml plastic bottles. Because this Prihoda Recycled material introduces chipped plastic bottles partway through the production process of the yarn, rather than using virgin hydrocarbons there are additional benefits:

  • A reduction of 34% in greenhouse gas emissions during production
  • A reduction of nearly 50% in water consumption during production
  • A reduction of over 66% in energy consumption during production
  • The recycled material is also recyclable

Prihoda recycled material is identical to non-recycled material, it uses exactly the same yarn to create the material; it just has a different origin. Prihoda supplied recycled fabric ducting to IKEA Greenwich which received a BREEAM outstanding certification and re-utilised over 55,000 plastic bottles.

Post Installation

There are some important environmental and indoor air quality considerations to highlight post installation of a fabric ducting system. We’ll finish with these….

Qualitative benefits

As discussed earlier the bespoke nature of the fabric ducting system creates a homogenous air pattern leading to a stable, mixed and well distributed air pattern all over the space. This has additional benefits beyond the obvious reduction in energy usage and increased control….

  • Better indoor air quality leads to less issues with workers as regards
  • Stale air and sick building syndrome
  • Fluctuations in temperature throughout the day or in different parts of the space
  • Elimination of velocity / draught issues, even with AC Cooling thanks to bespoke diffuser design.
  • Fabric ducting is easily cleaned and is designed to be washed in a washing machine. This also leads to improvements in air quality and efficiency as clean ducts use less pressure to deliver the supply air.

 

Fabric ducting – especially Prihoda recycled material fabric ducting – offers significant environmental benefits when compared against more traditional systems – and offers an opportunity to have a distribution system designed to deliver the air specifically to the requirements of the space. Aesthetic and available in a variety of colours with additional printing options, fabric ducting can be made to blend or create an impact in a space – or simply deliver a message or a brand. Low cost, cleanable and with a long warranty fabric ducting is a practical and adaptable choice for most air diffusion projects and is widely used in the Uk and around the world.

For more information or references please contact Paul Russon at Prihoda UK Ltd www.prihoda.co.uk

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