High fives for Highline 235: CIBSE award-winning fan coil unit

The Diffusion Highline 235 modular fan coil range won CIBSE’s Product or Innovation of the Year – Thermal Comfort award because of the emphasis on minimising embodied carbon, as well as optimising performance

Diffusion’s modularisation of its fan coil product impressed judges at the 2024 CIBSE Building Performance Awards, who gave it the Product or Innovation of the Year – Thermal Comfort accolade. They described it as ‘a practical, well thought-through design’ that delivered on customer feedback. 

Thorough research and testing of the Diffusion Highline 235 modular fan coil range has resulted in a product that considers whole life costing through the use of TM65 and local sourcing to reduce transport miles, the judges added. Energy, acoustics, performance, and the flexibility modularisation brings to deployment and onsite repairs have also been considered.

Working closely with customers, Diffusion researched every UK fan coil on the market to assess how it could improve the design to meet the changing needs of the industry.

As a result, its Highline range has been increased to eight, the modularity of which now allows almost 300,000 configurations. This means customers can select a unit that exactly matches their performance requirements rather than having to over-specify, ensuring the lowest energy consumption.

At design stage, the emphasis was on using fewer materials, reducing the volume of materials transported, minimising carbon footprint, and lowering running costs per unit size.

Leveraging high-efficiency EC/DC motor and fan assemblies, the units achieve a specific fan power as low as 0.14W.L-1.s-1, significantly reducing energy consumption and operational costs. Forward-curved centrifugal fans provide the most efficient airflow and acoustic performance in all models. Further acoustic benefits are achieved through ‘0’ fire-rated foam insulation.

The unit’s heat exchangers are manufactured from solid drawn copper tubes, mechanically expanded into pre-formed collars in rippled plate aluminium fins. Multi-circuit design ensures maximum thermal performance. For optimum heat transfer into the airflow, electrical elements are 8mm-diameter, fully sheathed, stainless-steel rods, with spiral-wound fins.

Highline 235 is supplied with Diffusion’s Lifetime Eco wire-mesh filter, which can be simply vacuum cleaned in situ. It lasts the lifespan of the unit. 

ISO-grade media filters are also available. When filters need to be cleaned or replaced, they can be easily removed from either the side of the unit or from beneath it.

In spaces where noise levels significantly influence occupant satisfaction, the Highline 235 range can achieve noise levels ranging from NR25 to NR40. Discharge plenums are available in rectangular or circular spigots, and inlet and discharge attenuators are available in lengths to meet requirements.

British designed and manufactured with a short supply chain, 70% of Diffusion’s fan coil units (FCUs) are transported less than 24 miles to end users in London, keeping carbon emissions to a minimum. The modular, configurable design means building owners can reuse the FCUs by repositioning them.

The CIBSE TM65 data-collection methodology was used to collect accurate and detailed embodied carbon information about the system. Working from a component level, this methodology ensures data is comprehensive and up to date.

Diffusion uses its in-house test facility to offer volumetric, acoustic and thermal performance testing, and customers can watch their chosen products being tested and certified. They can also input their building’s design parameters into Diffusion’s software to select the ideal FCU for their required temperature and flowrate. This includes data on correct heat exchanger selection.

The judges said the range of innovations among award entries this year showed that innovation doesn’t need to be ‘epic’ to be influential and beneficial. They also illustrated the importance of product testing.  

  • For more on the winners at the CIBSE Building Performance Awards, visit www.cibse.org/bpa