FabricAir's Smart Air Solutions are becoming the most popular choice in pool and spa projects across the globe due to the technological advantages they offer in terms of safety, hygeine and healthy air quality.
Fabric-based air dispersion systems are inherently corrosion-free and enables unprecedented airflow precision. By using fabric ducting, the engineers can create significantly better indoor air quality and a much healthier, more comfortable indoor environment for the users.
The technology provides advantages for the building owners and facility managers in terms of protecting the building structure against condensation and dampness. As the technology also offers complete freedom in design, it is an opportunity for the architects to playfully integrate the ventilation solution into the architecture.
Paying strict attention to the airflow design in pool and spa area is vital regardless of the air dispersion technology used. One key factor is the health of the occupants and users of the facilities, but it is important to also consider the health of the building itself. The harsh environment inside a pool or spa facility can quickly deteriorate the structure. If wet and humid conditions are allowed to go unchecked it leads to mold growth, rot and corrosion.
Protecting the Building Structure Against Condensation and Corrosion
The building structure and various fixtures face imminent risk of corrosion due to condensation in the harsh climate created by the temperature, humidity and chlorine gasses in pool and spa applications. Using airflows to sweep condensation off the surfaces will prevent dripping, mold growth and corrosion.
Significant differences between indoor and outdoor temperatures cause the humid air inside the pool area to condensate on fixtures and structural surfaces, e.g. window panes. Sweeping these surfaces with air, thereby efficiently preventing the formation of condensation, increases their life expectancy by minimizing the risk of corrosion, rot and mold.
The air sweep technique is also used to remove condensation from surfaces of e.g. light fixtures, cable trays, HiFi equipment and other items mounted using metal brackets and fittings. This efficiently lowers the risk of corrosion in these elements, thus prolonging the life of the equipment despite the tropical conditions of the pool area.
Case example: The outdoor temperature drops below freezing in Calgary, Canada, thus causing a significant temperature difference to the indoor pool area of the Talisman Center. The center was thus struggling with condensation issues on the ceiling, which led to unsafe conditions for their users. Using FabricAir dispersion technology the engineers created an airflow that sweeps the surface of the ceiling, thereby removing the troublesome condensation problem. The upgraded air dispersion solution came with another benefit to the athletes, as the indoor air quality was improved, creating a healthier and more pleasant indoor environment.
The Talisman Centre in Calgary, Canada had significant issues with condensation leading to unsafe conditions for the 1,5 million athletes, who annually used the facilities. A FabricAir dispersion system aesthetically solved this issue, creating a comfortable indoor climate regardless of the harsh outdoor conditions.
The inside of the double curved ceiling is swiped by conditioned air to avoid any condensation. It is handled by two long curved fabric ducts along each side of the arena. The ducts are manufactured to disperse large volumes of tempered air using individual, angled FabricAir® JetFlow™ and non-permeable Combi 85 fabric.
Corrosion-free ducting with hygeinic advantages
Fabric ducts are corrosion-free and condensation-free by nature. They are tailored from polyester textiles, which are not vulnerable in the harsh and corrosive environments thart exist inside a pool or spa facility.
Permeable fabrics are used to create an air blanket around the length and circumference of the duct, efficiently preventing condensation from forming on the ductwork. This technology also hinders dust and dirt particles from settling onto the duct, which is great for the hygiene. If a fabric duct somehow gets dirty on the outside, it is easy to slide the ducting off the suspension, wash it and rehang it gain without having to drain the pool or even close the facility. By contrast, conventional metal ducting is an infamous breeding ground for microbial activity and costly to clean.
Corrosion is a safety concern in these harsh environment. A number of accidents involving corroded ductwork, where pieces of ducts or diffusers have fallen from the ceiling, has led to stricter guidelines for ventilation in pool and spa facilities. Luckily very few of these cases have led to injuries. It has, however, led architects and engineers to scope out alternatives to replace the conventional spiral ducts.
In the fall of 2018, a team of engineers dismantled a 15 year old spiral duct in connection with the refurbishment of a community pool in the Valencia region of Spain. The hot and humid pool environment had clearly taken its toll on the metal ductwork. It was visibly highly corroded and the same was true for the diffusers. This represented a safety hazard to the users of the facility.
When the corroded ductwork duct came down, the engineering team were surprised to see just how bad a state the old metal duct was in. They were seasoned ventilation people, yet they were chocked to see the amount of filth that had been hiding inside the metal ducting.
Thus the decision to replace the conventional spiral dutcs with a FabricAir dispersion system was unanimous. The old and oxidized duct was replaced by fabric-based technology tailored in anti-microbial FabricAir® Combi 80 with a selection of flow models specifically suited to the location.
Technical Manager, Toni Valle, explains the decision:
”FabricAir proposed an adapted design with improvements in the air dispersion that allowed us to avoid condensation in areas where it had previously occurred. An optimal hygienic solution in anti-bacterial textile was proposed in view of the state of the old sheet metal duct. The design allowed us to adapt it to the outlets of the previous installation. Aesthetically it integrates very well with the wooden cover, which was somewhat complex with the sheet metal. In addition, FabricAir provided accessories for the installation meeting the tight dates required to make the replacement.”
The upgraded air dispersion system comes with an extra benefit, as Smart Air Solutions use up to 40% less energy due to the precise induction and the lower pressure loss of the fabric-based dispersion technology.
How to Address Chlorine Vapors and Avoid Hyper-evaporation
Precisely engineering the airflow sweeping across the pool surface is vital. If the air velocity is too high, it accelerates the evaporation from the pool water. If the airflow is too low, the gasses accumulate above the water surface causing unpleasant or even harmful conditions for the users.
Dehumidifyers are used to control the indoor environment in pool and spa applications and these naturally accelerate evaporation from the pools. This is why precise attention to airflow design is essential. Fresh water is a scarse ressource in many parts of the world, hence minimizing evaporation is important.
However, if unaddressed, the chlorine gasses also evaporating from the pool will settle just above the surface, as these vapors are heavier than air. Hence, the users require a supply of fresh air that removes these gasses.
FabricAir Smart Air Solutions offer the highest level of precision in air dispersion design. The innovative technology enables the engineers to combine flow models and alternate patterns along the ducting, thus creating the optimum airflow for each section within the pool facility, factoring in the unique requirements of each section.
Creating the Ideal Environment for Spectators
The spectators require a high air change without drafts to be comfortable in the tropical conditions that typically exist inside a pool facility.
Air curtains can be created to prevent the hot and humid air from the pool section from reaching the seats. The innovative technology of Smart Air Solutions enables several airflow purposes to be conbined in one duct. The same duct can facilitate a comfortable draft-free supply of fresh air, create an air curtain effect to seperate specific sections, and generate directional airstreams that sweep relevant surfaces to prevent condensation and corrosion.
Avoiding drafts is important in terms of comfort but the seating section does requires a high air change. Fabric-based technology enables a high air change at low velocity, becuase the air can be dispersed throughout the entire length and circumference of the duct.