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Innovation In Water Heating

Adveco has been awarded a Buildings & Facilities Management Innovation Award for its work in water heating for commercial buildings during 2023. To celebrate, we take a look at our approach that continues to deliver award-winning innovation more than 50 years after the company was first founded…

Adveco began in 1971, when the company was founded as Advance Services (Sales) Ltd, supporting the launderette industry with a vision for increased efficiency and cost saving by utilising glass-lined boilers and galvanised hot water storage tanks. As a result, the company was recognised by BSRIA as the instigator of direct gas-fired water heaters in the UK.

Throughout the next 27 years, the company helped develop the market trading as A.O. Smith Water Heaters (Adveco AWP). In 2015 the company embraced its own brand and today Adveco is the trusted specialist provider of low-carbon hot water systems to the building services industry. Operating across all commercial sectors, the company is proud to be leading the way with its vision for lower carbon applications that leverage heat pump and solar thermal technologies with packaged and off-site constructed systems to help achieve net zero.

As an engineering-led business, Adveco has always been an innovator in the provision of domestic hot water (DHW) for commercial-scale projects across the UK. Retaining independent operation enables Adveco to select the optimal choice of technology and manufacturing partners to be fast to market with the right products for its commercial customers. This has allowed Adveco to seamlessly move focus to encompass a blend of traditional and new, more sustainable technologies in the form of solar thermal and especially heat pumps to integrate greater sustainability into DHW systems. 

With a predicted one-third rise in non-domestic floor space by 2050, much of the current focus resides on new builds, but this still leaves more than 1.6 million pre-existing non-domestic buildings in England and Wales, generating almost one-fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, needing expert, practical support.  To best support the needs of all commercial buildings Adveco has concentrated on delivering effective, rapid and lower-cost innovation of water heating systems and appliances that drive and support the adoption of sustainability, but not at the expense of existing infrastructure or working building systems.

This foundational innovation for achieving net zero is comprised of six ‘pillars’. The first of these ‘pillars of Innovation’ encompasses work to reduce energy use. This is a core building block and focuses on the delivery of greater efficiency. This starts with approaches to how internal components operate with a device and how a device interoperates with others in a larger system.

Gas-fired systems will remain an important technology for the high-demand provision of hot water in commercial buildings well into the 2040s, despite being a fossil fuel. For many older buildings, it is the only cost-effective approach available, so improving efficiency has been a key consideration.  

The patented Ecologic premix burner used in Adveco’s AD, ADplus and MD ranges is a good example, increasing efficiency to reduce fuel, cutting carbon and dangerous NOₓ emissions, our second pillar of innovation.

At a system level, we have spent a lot of development time calculating the best ways to reduce how hard technologies such as air source heat pumps (ASHP) and direct electric heaters, preferably boilers but also immersions need to work.

As a result, the company has become a vocal supporter of a hybrid approach to commercial-scale hot water provision as the best method for maximising efficiency whilst maintaining necessary higher working flows to meet safe operational conditions. Hybrid systems can encompass anything from gas and solar thermal through to ASHPs, electric boilers, immersions and solar thermal in a single system, all balanced by bespoke controls designed in-house by Adveco.

Historically this approach required bespoke system design, which could be both complex and costly. As a result, Adveco has committed itself to a research and development programme that creates pre-packaged systems. This creates new efficiencies to cut energy consumption, emissions, and reduce costs, both capital and operational, our third pillar, and improve installation, the fourth pillar.   

For almost ten years Adveco has been striving to deliver a pre-sized or prefabricated system to deliver hot water demands. In 2020 the company launched its award-winning Packaged e32-Hot Water System. This prefabricated all-electric water heating system brought together Adveco’s FPi32 ASHP, a 200L GLC indirect preheat tank and a 200L GLE direct electric water heater to provide reliable high-temperature water in a convenient, packaged system housed in a compact GRP housing.

The e32 provided a model which evolved into the FUSION FPH-S system. Launched in 2021, again to award-winning acclaim, FUSION encompassed 16 pre-specified low-carbon, all-electric, packaged hybrid hot water systems.

FUSION further evolved in 2023 into a completely new system with more than 40 pre-sized variants. The ATSH and ATSI cylinders were redesigned from the ground up to enable mounting of an ARDENT electric boiler and prefabricated pipework for a more compact form factor which is easy to install. FUSION T variants also incorporate the latest FPi-32 ASHP that offers greater efficiency at a smaller size due to the use of R32 refrigerant. This also offers a lower global warming potential (GWP) than previous models. Able to meet a range of continuous capacity hot water demands from 257-377 litres/hour makes FUSION highly adaptable for a wide range of commercial buildings. The stainless steel construction of the ATSI/ATSH cylinders also makes them excellent all-rounders, resistant to soft water corrosion and, with FUSION’s unique low electric immersion heat intensity (6W/cm²), is more resistant to scale build-up in hard water areas, extending system longevity, our fifth pillar of innovation.

The physical design, dedicated controls and integrated metering ensure the ASHP preheat, and immersion work seamlessly to deliver the highest operational efficiencies. This enables FUSION to make the greatest gains possible from the heat pump, even when ambient temperature and system demands fluctuate. These gains offset much of the direct electrical energy usually required, delivering 53% carbon emissions savings and helping control the operational costs of providing business-critical hot water.

Integrating FUSION technology with solar thermal collectors which use Adveco-designed drain back to extend the efficiency and longevity of the system, we can further reduce system energy demands. By at least 30% in the UK, driving carbon emissions down by as much as 71% over equivalent-sized gas-fired systems. It is a huge accomplishment but is only the beginning.

Our work with Live Metering is already saving organisations potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds, enabling the progress of nascent sustainability strategies. As that data aggregates, we are starting to gain the first true idea of the scale of the challenge facing the commercial sector to decarbonise water heating systems in its buildings. New refrigerant technology for ASHP’s based on R290 (propane) will further reduce GWP, increase efficiencies and supply higher working temperatures. Hydrogen mixes, already supported by Adveco gas water heaters, will enable the reduction of natural gas within grid supplies to further alleviate carbon emissions from legacy building stock. We are also working hard to identify and reduce the embodied carbon which resides in the logistics chain from manufacture to delivery, which is the sixth and final pillar of sustainable innovation.

Net zero is a challenge, one that demands innovation and one that Adveco relishes working in partnership with its customers to realise for future generations.