Technology

Do water-cooled chiller plants still deliver lower utility bills? Today, many chiller plant energy analyses carefully account for energy costs, and even energy escalation rates – a factor that projects how fuel costs will increase over time, while ignoring water and wastewater costs associated with cooling towers. While highly effective at transferring heat, cooling towers consume millions of gallons of water each year through the process of evaporation, drift, and blowdown. With the rising cost of water and wastewater, this omission can result in an incomplete picture for the building owner.

How often do you think about your cooling tower or the fill that provides the cooling engine for your process? Unfortunately, if you’re like many plant operators, your cooling tower is but one piece of equipment in your large facility, and its ranking on your priority list is probably lower than many other expensive and more intricate pieces of equipment in your plant.
Snail mail. Rolodexes. Boomboxes. We’ve given up the familiarity of the past for the promise of the future. But is the same happening in the chiller industry? Is the push for lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants changing the industry as we know it? In some ways, yes. But, in the United States in particular, the change may be more gradual than it appears at first glance.
Commercial buildings in the United States will be looking to replace centrifugal chillers as many are near or past their median replacement life of 25 years. This becomes apparent when you consider nearly half of all commercial buildings were constructed before 1980 according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The same can be said of buildings on American college campuses, which according to the same data, more than half of which were built before 1990. Bottom line — if you’re a commercial building owner or a facility manager/director in the United States, you may need to replace a chiller.
Water treatment professionals understand that if applied correctly, solid-form products can be just as effective of a method to protect cooling and heating systems from corrosion and scale as their liquid counterparts. And with the additional sustainability, safety, ease of use, and shipping cost benefits of solids, hundreds of facilities are transitioning to these products each year world-wide.
Chiller & Cooling Best Practices Magazine interviewed Paul Heston (General Manager) and Tom Strock (Chief Engineer) from Hydrothrift Corporation. In a nutshell, where workers are exposed to harmful chemicals, they must have eyewash and safety shower stations to decontaminate themselves in the event of a spill or splash. A variety of industries, including petrochemical, chemical, metal fabrication and laboratories, must plan for this contingency. The ANSI Z358.1 Standard specifies the water used for these purposes must be tepid or within a site-specified range.  This means in colder climates, water must be heated, and in hotter climates water must be cooled.  
Gearboxes are used as speed reducers to slow the rotational speed from the incoming motor to the outgoing fan of a cooling tower. Companies operating high-capacity production plants, such as those in the chemical process and power industries, require cooling towers with large amounts of heat rejection capacity. Without gearbox technology, cooling tower motors would be massive to directly handle the torque required by the fan. Something so large and heavy would be too expensive and impractical.
Manufacturers are under continual pressure to control costs without affecting operations or worker comfort and safety. Because energy ranks as one of the largest operating expenses, improving energy efficiency of mechanical cooling systems is one of the best ways to reduce operating costs. In a typical water-cooled chiller plant, the chiller itself accounts for most of the energy consumption. That’s why improving chiller efficiency is critical to controlling operating costs.
The demand for advanced computing power rises year after year, but the more powerful the system, the more heat it generates. As data centers grow, they place higher demands on cooling equipment. Packing as much kilowatt and computer usage into as small a space as possible is key to reducing the cost and size of the facility. In doing this, data centers increase the power density of their systems, drawing more power, and generating more heat per unit area.
ElectroCell Systems, Inc., manufactures a system for commercial, industrial and institutional facilities that is applied to conventional water-cooled chilled water plants. The system significantly improves efficiency in water and energy use with paybacks in the 2.0 to 3.5 year range. The system is not a substitute for chemical treatment; rather it is a Condenser Water Efficiency system, engineered specifically and solely to increase water and energy efficiency by addressing the uniquely challenging demands that exist only in the condenser water loop.
If you enjoy the occasional beverage from an aluminum can, there’s a decent chance the can was made by Ball Corporation, a container manufacturing giant with facilities across the world. The company’s facility in Saratoga Springs, New York, services beverage companies throughout the northeastern United States. The plant operates four production lines producing millions of aluminum cans per day.