Keeping cool and cutting costs in the Middle East

DESMI NSL Centrifugal Pumps used for district cooling plant in China. 

District cooling (DC) is an efficient and environmentally friendly utility service that provides chilled water from a centralized cooling plant through a network of pipes for air conditioning purposes.

In the heat of the GCC region, DC is becoming a priority, not just for its effectiveness in producing comfortable temperatures but for reducing energy consumption and cutting CO2 emissions. Relatively simple and clean, DC creates a cool, efficient indoor climate, without the need for bulky refrigeration equipment and noise in or near residential areas.

Supply is assured year-round with minimal maintenance needed, which is reflected in reduced operating costs and lower investment requirements. Along with energy efficiency improvements, DC provides a better quality of cooling, less air and noise pollution, better building aesthetics and higher reliability than roof-top chillers.

DESMI NSL Centrifugal Pumps used for district cooling plant in Denmark 

Fierce competition

For DC applications, DESMI provides pumping solutions both for water intake, centralized cooling plants and the piping network itself. And, while competition is fierce in this market, its legacy of working with seawater and cooling applications in confined spaces is proving advantageous.

“DESMI has special skills in minimizing both floorspace and maintenance – both of which are key issues on board sea-going vessels or rigs where many of the company’s products are born and refined,” said Michael Hager, General Manager of DESMI’s newly established Middle East office.

“We’ve been working for well over 100 years in the marine & offshore and district heating sectors, giving us outstanding technical competencies related to seawater and cooling applications. It’s a fundamental background for the competitive edge we have in district cooling – and the basis for bringing new thinking and technologies to this part of the world.”

Mr Hager and his growing team are located in the head office building of Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), a 100% government-owned free zone that promotes modern technology-based industries.

Despite not having had a local presence in the region until recently, DESMI has rapidly established itself, beginning with a DC installation for the Dubai Metro project to provide cool air for metro stations during the construction and commissioning period. For five Metro Stations, the company has provided its NSL125-330 centrifugal pumps, each with a capacity of 162 m3/h at 35 mLC to the temporary cooling provider RSS as part of the centralized cooling solution via 52 kilometers of pre-insulated, buried steel piping to all Dubai Metro stations.

Total power

DESMI’s district cooling equipment has contributed to a reduced electromechanical footprint inside each station and has decreased total power consumed by 30-50%. This, in turn, has reduced the total carbon footprint, as well as noise and vibration, compared to roof-top air-cooled chillers and pumps.

With sales already established in the region for DESMI’s marine and offshore, industrial and oil spill response products and services, the Dubai office is primarily focused on serving utilities in the region, aiming to become a major player in pumping applications for cooling and power generation businesses.

Naturally, this part of the world has its challenges. Utilities, in particular, are strongly price-driven, hunting for quality at bargain-basement pricing wherever they can get it. With the Far Eastern manufacturing countries aggressively marketing their wares, the challenge for European and American vendors is to offer clear added value that can differentiate them.

Today, the pump configuration most often specified by engineering consultants for DC is the split-case horizontal pump. “Almost every DC uses horizontal pumps and many customers seem unaware that things have moved on,” said Mr Hager. “But vertical in-line pumps like our NSL series take up 50% less space.

“We’ve also designed a flexible spacer coupling that allows access to the pump heart without removing the electric motor. So, these pumps are cheaper and easier to access for repairs and maintenance – to get to the heart of the pump you just remove a few screws and you will be standing with the impeller in your hand.”

While he hails from Germany originally, Michael Hager is no stranger to Dubai, having arrived in the region in 2002 to take up a position as the sales and marketing manager for a gas engine manufacturer.

More than a decade later, he and his family consider Dubai to be their second home. “I enjoy the fast-paced working environment with its daily challenges. Dubai is challenging, hectic and demanding – yet rewarding if you can keep up with the pace. This is where it all happens.”