4 hidden ways of improving the energy efficiency of your process cooling system

Industrial cooling and refrigeration equipment accounts for up to 50% of a plant’s total electricity cost [1]. However, 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 more:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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 (Global Warming Potential) 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.”
  3. 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.”
  4. 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. www.icscoolenergy.com