The new system, first announced by the Cooling Post in June, was designed to help preserve Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration brought on by modern pollutants and the amount of humidity and dirt brought into the building by an increasing number of tourists.
The new system, which replaces an earlier Carrier system installed in 1993, uses two Carrier AquaForce 30XWV water-cooled chillers with Greenspeed intelligence, each with 580kW of capacity. It is said to employ specially designed software and components, as well as patented, energy-saving technologies to maintain optimal climate conditions for the protection of the paintings within the chapel.
An intelligent system of controls, linked with an advanced video application from UTC Building & Industrial Systems, enables the hvac system to anticipate visitor levels and adjust its performance intuitively.
The new system is said to deliver twice the efficiency and three times the capacity of the former system. To ensure the smooth operation of the new system, the Vatican has chosen to enter into a five-year maintenance contract with Carrier Distribution Italy.
“Our aim now is not restoration but conservation, said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums. “This is why we have chosen Carrier, because a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel needs a comparable masterpiece of technology.”
As well as closely controlling the flow, humidity, quality and temperature of the air, it is said to maintain sound at “church-quiet” levels and is virtually invisible to visitors. Pre-existing duct openings have been re-used in the protected, building.
“Supporting the Vatican with our advanced technologies to preserve the extraordinary heritage of the Sistine Chapel was a remarkable opportunity,” said Geraud Darnis, president and ceo, UTC Building & Industrial Systems. “We put our world-class engineering and design resources into this project and are exceptionally proud of the outcome.”
The 1993 Carrier designed air conditioning system was designed to accommodate a maximum load of 700 simultaneous visitors. Today, with daily visitor traffic of approximately 20,000 people, the new system is designed to accommodate up to 2,000 visitors at one time in nearly any weather condition.
The Vatican Museums was able to keep the chapel open to visitors throughout the system dismantling and installation process, which occurred over the peak summer season, through use of a temporary hvac system provided by Carrier Rental Systems.
The new Carrier HVAC system design will be presented over the next two days to an international audience specializing in cultural heritage preservation at a Vatican Museums event, “The Sistine Chapel 20 Years Later: New Breath, New Light,” in Rome.
“From start to finish, this project has highlighted the important role high technology can play in preserving our most important pieces of history for future generations,” said Michel Grabon, director, Carrier AdvanTE(3)C Europe. “When we started to design the system, Professor Paolucci told us to think in terms of five, six, seven centuries, and to think of it as work for humanity. Our solution accomplishes this in a way that strategically allows for future updates to help meet the Vatican’s evolving needs. We’ll continue to innovate to help preserve the brilliance of Michelangelo’s frescoes.”