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Research shows heat exchangers cut heating costs by half

Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre has shown selecting the right system for heating the swine barn can cut heating costs by half.

Following a benchmarking survey conducted to assess energy use in swine barns and identify areas where energy could be saved researchers with the Saskatoon based Prairie Swine Centre compared the energy costs associated with conventional forced convection air heaters fired with natural gas, heat exchangers which recover waste heat and ground source heat pumps or geothermal systems.

Research scientist engineering Dr. Bernardo Predicala says work was prompted by concerns raised by producers over increasing energy costs.

Heating a barn is the area where most of the energy is used so as a result of that we looked at different alternative heating systems that can be applied in a barn to see if these different heating systems can translate into savings.

What we did is, over the last couple of years, we installed these different types of heating systems in rooms within our barn and we collected the actual energy consumption, the temperature, the air quality in the these different rooms under these different heating systems.

We found out that the heat recovery ventilator systems actually reduced total energy use by as much as 54 percent.

As for the geothermal heating system, we’re still continuing our work on that because apart from heating it also has some functions for cooling the barn during the during the summer so we haven’t done a complete trial on that aspect yet.

Hopefully when all these studies have been conducted this will lead to a significant reduction in energy use for different barn operations and, of course, a reduction in total cost of production for pig production.

Information gathered through this study is being used to develop software producers will be able to use to calculate what these various systems would cost to install and operate on their own farms.

Dr. Predicala expects testing of the new tool to begin by the middle of this year.

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