Heating Capital City

The Moscow and St Petersburg towers, now under construction, are part of the new Moscow International Business Centre. They’re tied into the city’s district heating system through top-notch technology.

DATE 2023-11-28 AUTHOR Svetlana Svistunova

VISIBLE FROM ALMOST everywhere in the city, the towers of the Moscow International Business Centre are a fantastic sight, especially at night when they stand resplendent against the sky. They will be even more impressive with the addition of the Moscow and St Petersburg towers, which when finished will stand 284 and 242 metres tall.

Designed by the American architectural firm NBBJ and situated just four kilometres from the Kremlin, the towers are scheduled for completion in 2009. They are part of the Capital City project, which is one of the most ambitious projects of the investor, the Capital Group Companies.

Since the project started, the idea has been to only use the world’s most up-to-date technology. This high-tech goal takes in the buildings’ heating and cooling systems as well as their hot and cold water supply systems. These systems were delivered by the Russian company Vodokomfort, which uses Central Heat Supply Stations and Special Heat Supply Stations to connect buildings’ systems for heating and cooling and water supply to the district heating network.

The project was carried out using Alfa Laval heat exchangers. “The Capital Group, which is overseeing the technical specifications of the projects, wanted equipment with the highest quality and specifically asked for Alfa Laval heat exchangers,” says Ellya Doliner, general director at Vodokomfort.

To heat the towers, Doliner says, a number of heating units have been combined into several heat exchanger substations that are, in turn, tied into Moscow’s district heating system network.

Vodokomfort and Alfa Laval worked in close cooperation on the project. Together the two companies visited the contractor, Turkish company TOKAR, and engineers from both companies made the many recalculations necessary to meet the technical specifications for the project. Doliner says the recalculations were necessary to find the best and most effective solution. Finally, he says “we came up with a technical solution that was optimal.”

The towers’ multifunctional purposes presented particular challenges, says Doliner. “There is an office zone, an entertainment zone and a residential zone with luxury-class apartments, as well as a sports area with a swimming pool,” he says. “A carefully planned approach to the heating and air conditioning of the building was necessary.”

Moreover, the height of the buildings called for particular attention to the pressure. “There were strict limits on loss of pressure,” explains Elizaveta Rakitina, market unit manager (HVAC) at Alfa Laval in Russia. “Large quantities of water have to be pumped through tall buildings, but at the same time the pressure should be maintained. We solved that problem with Vodokomfort by choosing the appropriate heat exchangers and pumps.”

“Static pressure [the pressure in a closed system, without any water movement] is another problem,” says Alfa Laval Regional Business Development Manager (Comfort) Oleg Gusev. “The towers are tall, and the static pressure is extremely high. This called for the use of special heat exchangers for pressures of as much as 25 bars. Together with Vodokomfort we suggested a technical solution to that problem. We had to calculate carefully to select heat exchangers that corresponded to all the parameters and still fit the budget.”

In the end, it all turned out well. “It was a tight time schedule, but we met the deadline and for a set amount and did so without any loss of quality,” says Doliner.

THE COOPERATION BETWEEN Vodokomfort and Alfa Laval dates back to 1998, when Ellya Doliner founded Vodokomfort.
But he had heard about Alfa Laval long before that. He recalls his first encounter with plate heat exchangers while studying at the Moscow Institute of Chemical Heavy Industry. It was the 1970s, and they seemed fantastic, he says. In the Soviet Union at the time, shell-and-tube heat exchangers were the only technology in use, and they occupied the space of a good-sized room, while plate heat exchangers are the size of a desk, Doliner explains.

“And then, 20 years later, in the 1990s, I saw Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers installed in Russia,” he says. “Their advantages were obvious to me.”

Doliner got even better acquainted with Alfa Laval products while working for the German company Grundfos a couple of years later, as he participated in industrial exhibitions. “I was struck by [Alfa Laval’s] heat exchanger technology,” he recalls. “Alfa Laval has accuracy and consistency. I am very glad that I now can find the same technology and approach at the Alfa Laval plant outside Moscow.”

TODAY VODOKOMFORT employs 35 people in five cities and is an official partner of Alfa Laval for delivery, installation and maintenance of Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers in Russia.

It was not a random choice, says Doliner, but the result of an analysis of world trends, technologies and market conditions for heating, cooling and water supply systems.

He says, “We are interested in supplying our market with only the very best and most modern equipment.”

That business approach has attracted some major clients, and the number of orders has been growing steadily for the past 10 years. Doliner says business has been particularly good lately, thanks to the ongoing construction boom in Russia. In particular, there has been a significant number of large residential buildings put up, all of them needing high-quality water and heating systems. “I see huge opportunities to increase the use of Alfa Laval equipment in Russia,” he says. “We have made that our goal, and it is achievable.”

Doliner says there are great opportunities to use Alfa Laval equipment for district heating systems, which are standard in Russia. The idea of district heating is to use one central source instead of local systems for each building. The heat is produced in a power plant and then transported through pipes to individual buildings in the form of hot water or steam. This has both economic and environmental benefits.

In Moscow, for instance, there are dozens of combined heat and power plants from which heat goes to heating stations from which it is distributed to residential buildings. “Now there are Alfa Laval heat exchangers in many heating stations,” Doliner says. “They have proven quite convenient for the Russian district heating system.”

Doliner believes his firm has a big future on the market with Alfa Laval as its partner and sees good opportunities in the field of electricity and with dry coolers.

In particular, however, Doliner sees a future for heat exchanger systems – equipped with heat exchangers, pumps and fittings – in Russia. “We develop the specific configuration for a heat exchanger system according to the customer’s requirements,” he says. “The heat exchanger system is made at the factory and delivered to the customer completed. All that is left to do is connect it to the pipe of the district heating system. We have already supplied several such heating systems.”

Triumphant teamwork

The Moscow and St Petersburg Towers at the Moscow International Business Centre are equipped with over a hundred Alfa Laval heat exchangers, both for heating and cooling appliances.

“Alfa Laval’s equipment is exceptionally convenient for tall construction,” says Ellya Doliner, general director at Vodokomfort. “It allows the technical characteristics of the building to be taken into account. The total capacity of the supplied heat exchangers is about 250 megawatts.

“Since these are tall buildings,” he continues, “calculating the pressure correctly was the main problem to be solved. Although we had rarely handled orders for equipment with 16 to 25 atmospheric pressures before, that was exactly the type of equipment that was needed in this case. Alfa Laval has a systematic approach to these issues. It takes the needs of the customer into account and selects equipment according to those needs. Alfa Laval has a special calculations program for it. I think the successful solution of such complex issues is an unquestionable achievement for Alfa Laval. Not all companies can provide heat exchangers with 25 atmospheric pressure.”

In this project, about 90 heating units are combined in several heat exchanger substations that are connected to a district heating system network.

Alfa Laval and Vodokomfort worked in close cooperation to succeed with the project, which involved considerable recalculation for each heat exchanger.

“The Capital City project is an important image project for us,” says Vodokomfort’s commercial director Leonid Doliner. “And we can take pride in working alongside Alfa Laval. Not only did we see excellent work from their engineers, but we showed our ability to work together smoothly and productively as a team.”