Chillers: 4 hidden ways to save

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Published: 07 August 2018


Industrial cooling and refrigeration equipment accounts for up to 50% of a plant’s total electricity cost. While targeting the mechanical elements of a chiller – such as compressors, pumps, and fans is a well-known way of cutting a process cooling system’s energy consumption, there are a few lesser-known tactics that can be employed to maximise marginal efficiency gains for industrial end-users. Richard Metcalfe, Sales Director at ICS Cool Energy, explains:
  • Free cooling
 
Free cooling uses cool ambient air temperatures to reduce the energy consumed by a cooling circuit as well as the electrical power load of a system.
 
“The UK’s mild climate presents a significant opportunity for energy savings in process cooling applications via this method,” says Richard. “Capital expenditure may put some industrial end-users off investing in free cooling systems, but the great news is that most systems offer a pay-back period of just 18-24 months.”

  • Refrigerant type
 
When it comes to refrigerants, end-users have the opportunity to reduce operating costs and improve system efficiency while complying to current legislation, by opting for low GWP refrigerants.
 
Richard explains: “The best example of this is that newer chillers, more often than not, incorporate screw compressors, meaning they can operate using the likes of R513A which is both non-flammable and efficient, and benefits from a much lower GWP than its predecessor, R134A.”

  • Heat recovery
 
“The benefits of re-using excess heat from hot discharge refrigerant are undeniable, and include tangible efficiency savings, more comfortable working conditions and reduced environmental impact to name but a few,” says Richard.
 
“To access these benefits, end-users must purchase equipment which facilitates heat recovery or retrofit an existing chiller of 250kW upwards with a heat recovery unit. With the latter scenario though, end-users should consider the age and condition of the plant, as well as its thermal output and load profile, to ensure a healthy return on investment.”

  • Power factor correction
 
Power factor correction, which measures how effectively electrical power is converted into useful output, is often overlooked by industrial end-users, despite its impact on energy efficiency.
 
Richard explains: “With a chiller, compressor efficiencies average a power factor of around 0.86 but many operate with a power factor as low as 0.81-0.82. Industrial end-users should target any areas with lower power factors and correct them to as close as 0.95 as practical to reduce on-going running current and, therefore, utility bills.”
 
Thinking outside of the box and adopting some lesser-known techniques when it comes to improving the efficiency of temperature control equipment will quickly help industrial end-users to take back control of their site’s energy consumption and improve profitability.
 
To download a copy of ‘How to reduce your energy costs through temperature control and process cooling efficiencies’,  click here.
 
www.icscoolenergy.com