A Food & Beverage client was expanding production at one of their facilities, which required an additional 500 tons of refrigeration (TR) capacity via chilled water. In addition to that expansion demand, the existing 3500 TR chiller plant had been underperforming to meet the present demand of 3000 TR. The four existing chillers had been installed over a decade ago in the 1990’s with piping additions as new product lines were added.
Varo was tasked with an over-view analysis of the system, process loads, general cooling loads, chillers, cooling towers, and piping to establish present condition and capabilities.
Working with the chiller manufacturer to obtain the original test data and product specs, Varo operated the chillers under varying load conditions to determine present condition. The outcome was a determination that two chillers were operating satisfactorily, one was operating at 82% of original capacity due to a refrigerant replacement of R-11 with R-123, and one was operating at 60% capacity due to loss of refrigerant. During the testing, Varo also determined that one chilled water pump was operating below its original curve, possibly due to continued cavitation from gas trapped in the chilled water lines from a process requiring frequent line evacuation. Impact of cooling tower location relative to adjacent walls was also noted and measured for performance capabilities.
After determining actual operating loads from the multiple process systems and air handling units, the piping configuration was examined. The examination revealed errors in documentation as well as piping configurations that unevenly loaded the chillers and one process that was introducing a purge gas into the system, hence the pump impeller damage discussed above.
Also during this study, the operation of the system by plant personnel was observed.
Varo returned to the site with recommendations and cost estimates for corrections to the chillers, piping, and pumping. In addition, modifications to the process systems were suggested as related to the chilled water system. While there, a proposed operating sequence that could be automated was demonstrated by Varo operating the system for nine hours during production. The net result was improved cooling of processes and the facility as well as a reduction in energy consumption.
The client is in the process of funding and implementing the results and recommendations of the study.
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