Messana Radiant Cooling
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
As a passionate advocate of alternative solutions to air conditioning, Messana Radiant Cooling is committed to improving the thermal well-being of occupants by changing the way spaces are conditioned and in turn, lowering their carbon footprint. Located in Soquel, California, Messana envisions a world of comfort, which includes environments with uniform climates that provide freedom, health and comfort during any season of the year without the problems of air conditioning.
Founded in 2012, Messana manufactures and designs radiant cooling and heating systems for high-end residential and commercial spaces. The technology that Messana utilizes is based on the absorption of heat through hydronic radiant panels installed in the ceiling, including the patented Ray Magic gypsum panel. These radiant gypsum panels are hung just like regular drywall and become part of the ceiling. Panels are connected together with a snap-in fitting technology; the remaining is completed with dummy panels and finished with taping and mudding.
In cooling, cold water is pumped through the panels and the temperature of the ceiling drops down a few degrees above dew-point. As a consequence, the temperatures of floors and walls dip, by way of radiation, below the actual air temperature. “Air conditioning does not lower the temperature of surfaces, which remain four to six degrees hotter than the air,” says Alessandro Arnulfo, founder of Messana. “This means you feel more heat than desired and that must be compensated with even colder, dryer and faster-flowing air, which is known to be bothersome.”
A firm of the future
A modern and dynamic company, Messana benefits from the professionalism and experience of collaborators in design, production, administration and service. Every Messana system is customized to its environment by Messana technicians, many of whom have more than 15 years of experience in radiant cooling systems. This highly capable team supports the mechanical contractor during installation.
Messana uses the highest-quality materials in the production of its products, which are assembled both by hand and high-precision machines. The result is efficient, low-profile cooling equipment.
“These systems give the architects a lot of freedom in design,” says Arnulfo. “It can also help avoid the installation of fan coils and air conditioners when a cooling load is low.”
A radiant gypsum panel, as the name implies, functions primarily through thermal radiation. The process is based on electromagnetic waves, the same principle that allows many other technologies to work, such as lighting, televisions and mobile phones.
The thermal transmission of the radiant ceiling it is almost exclusively of the radiation type, as the air that is in contact with the ceiling, even though heated within a few inches, is trapped without a way of rising. “Contrary to what many believe, ‘heat rises’ is a myth: hot air rises!” adds Arnulfo. “A radiant ceiling is even better than a radiant floor in heating.”
In cooling, the radiant ceiling panels are cooled down, and rather than emit infrared radiation, they absorb the thermal output of surrounding objects, bodies and surfaces that become “radiators.” Lying on the top, however, the air in contact with the cold radiant ceiling gets cooler and becomes denser and heavier and therefore, naturally moves down — a phenomenon otherwise known as natural convection.
The brain of each Messana radiant cooling and heating system is the Control Magic board, which is the climate control platform behind every Messana system. “It is unique of its kind, specifically designed with many years of experience for radiant cooling with complex logics to prevent condensation,” specifies Arnulfo.
The Messana controls make intelligent and personalized heating and cooling decisions that guarantee comfort in every room with maximum energy savings. “One Control Magic board is able to control up to two independent hydronic circuits with unlimited zoning,” Arnulfo explains. “It can also be interconnected with other control magic units to fit the required number of hydronic units.” With a browser user interface, the Messana controls can be accessed via web with personal and Mac computers, tablets or smartphones.
Implementing the technology
Messana’s fine-tuned space conditioning and control technologies have already attracted numerous high-profile clients. As these products take off, the business works closely with installation contractors to train them on the job and help with system startup.
A recent client of Messana’s was Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Tudi Mechanical Systems installed the Messana system in the Orchard Residence Hall on the new, modern Eden Hall campus. The Ray Magic panels were installed on the ceiling using resilient channels to create an air plenum for the return air of the ventilation system.
The dehumidification and ventilation system consists of four 1200-CFM Messana air treatment units (ATU) installed in the attic. Each unit is composed of a heat recovery ventilation unit combined with a neutral temperature dehumidifier. The Messana radiant panel system will also integrate the radiant cooling and heating control system with dew point and mean radiant temperature sensors installed in each room of the dormitory.
“The radiant system is powered by a geothermal system,” shares Arnulfo. “The building also features photovoltaic and solar thermal systems.”
Eden Hall is self-sustaining in every way possible: emitting zero carbon emissions, managing all storm and wastewater on-site and producing more energy than it consumes. The new residential hall will accommodate up to 100 students with each room equipped with independent radiant cooling and heating systems for the best comfort of each student. The facility is also designed to net zero energy standards and slated for LEED Platinum certification.
The design of the radiant system was engineered in by the mechanical engineering firm, Interface Engineering.
Educating the market
Messana has seen marked success with its revolutionary space-conditioning products mainly in California. “We also have installations in Montana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts,” adds Arnulfo. But despite its benefits, radiant cooling is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe and Asia.
Arnulfo says spreading the word about this technology has been a priority — educating would-be customers and contractors who may not know it exists, much less the advantages radiant cooling offers.
“Our clients are always what we call early adopters,” Arnulfo explains. “It can be hard to find customers who are willing to use new technology that is not as established in the U.S., as well as contractors willing to learn how to install it.”
The greatest challenge to the company’s growth is lack of information, but Arnulfo and his colleagues have taken it head on. Messana is breaking down these barriers piece by piece, performing outreach and building connections with engineers, contractors and architects. As the business expands, Arnulfo predicts the company’s geographic footprint will, as well.
With a strong outreach plan in place, the company is on track for continued growth in the years ahead. Messana Radiant Cooling is opening doors to advancements and improvements in sustainable space conditioning as the company remains a small team with big ideas for a radiant future.
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