Process Cooling and HVAC

Industrial process cooling systems are typically used for production processes such as cooling plastics and metals and are present in many industrial sectors including chemicals, fabricated metal products, plastics, glass, data centers, and electronics. Most process cooling systems use industrial chillers that remove heat from water or glycol to produce chilled water.

While energy efficiency opportunities for process cooling/chillers exist at both the component and system level, a system-level approach that takes into account the interaction of individual components and how they are configured within the system is the most effective way to generate impactful energy savings.

Top Five Energy Efficiency Measures for Process Cooling Systems

  1. Design hydronic loops to operate chillers near design temperature differential
  2. Use variable speed control on compressors with an appropriate condenser water reset
  3. Design and Control Cooling Tower System for Low Condenser Temperatures
  4. Reset chilled water supply temperature setpoints based on process load
  5. Reset condensing water entering temperature setpoints based on ambient wet bulb temperature

Learn more with the PROCESS COOLING CHEAT SHEET, explore additional resources specific to Better Plants partners, and connect with the process cooling-subject matter expert below.

Solutions


Learn about innovative, replicable process cooling and HVAC-solutions and best practices implemented by Better Plants Challenge partners.

General Electric: HVAC Enthalpy Controls Uprgrade

In 2013, General Electric (GE) initiated a project to upgrade a location’s 100 rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units. The units were 15 to 25 years old and provided a total capacity of approximately 6000 refrigeration tons, equivalent to 72 million British thermal units (BTU). Rather than replace the units, GE planned to upgrade them with modern enthalpy controls, which were estimated to save energy at a much lower cost.

General Motors: Chilled Water System Optimization Project

General Motors plant engineers reviewed currently available technological advances in chilled water system design and control, and conducted an engineering feasibility study to determine extensive improvements that could be made to a facility's existing chilled water system piping and controls. The overall goal of the project was to upgrade the system while continuing to operate the plant, and to meet a 2-year simple payback with company investment and utility incentives from partners at the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Nissan: Chilled Water System Upgrades and Dashboard

Nissan invested in a facility's chilled water system by making upgrades to the existing system to improve efficiency and installing a dashboard platform to track the energy performance of the chilled water system. The overall cost of the project came out to be around $700,000, which provided a project payback of under 2 years.

United Technologies Corporation: United Technologies Research Center

In the summer of 2015, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) began expanding and renovating its research center facility in East Hartford, Connecticut; one goal of the project is to develop algorithms that will enable a building to adjust its electrical loads to balance HVAC performance in order to accommodate changes in demand across the grid.

Tools


Access free software tools to help assess your process cooling and HVAC system.

Process Heating Assessment and Survey Tool

The Process Heating Assessment and Survey Tool (PHASTEx v1.01) is a modified Excel format version of The Process Heating Assessment and Survey Tool (PHAST). The software tool is designed to improve energy efficiency and save energy for industrial heating systems.


Subject Matter Expert - Wei Guo

Dr. Wei Guo was a research assistant at the University of Arkansas from Jan 2006 to Feb 2011 and received his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus on HVAC systems, in May 2011. While pursuing his PhD degree, Wei spent every summer at the Arkansas Industrial Assessment Center working on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Arkansas State-funded manufacturing plant energy assessment projects. After graduation, Wei worked as an Energy Engineer at a building energy consulting firm for about 5 years. Wei's primary area of expertise is manufacturing plants and healthcare facilities energy conservation. He is an expert on Building Energy Modeling, Building Energy Performance M&V, and chilled water system Hydraulic Modeling for manufacturing plants. He also has extensive field experience on very complex air handling units and conventional and heat pump chiller plants. He specializes in design phase system selection and energy efficiency optimization. Wei has published over 15 energy conservation related technical papers and reports.

You can reach Wei with process cooling and HVAC-related questions at guow@ornl.gov