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Mechanical Room Update

USING 2 GPM/TON IN CENTRIFUGAL CHILLER CONDENSERS Masking the part load problem of negative pressure refrigerant designs

By Jim Parsnow Carrier Corporation 8/97

and above. depending upon the particular application and machine. However. However. added lift or temperature rise is required by the compressor. For a chiller operating at 44° F leaving evaporator water temperature. Although centrifugal chillers become more efficient with an initial reduction in the condenser water temperature. in smaller installations. by raising the condenser temperature. In large central chiller plants. In the example used by the manufacturer.04 kW/ton was released by going from 3 gpm/ton to 2 gpm/ton on a 500 ton chiller. This condition is not favorable to a negative pressure chiller using an orfice or similar flow control metering system. especially if the entering condenser water temperature is being reduced to match the part load condition. Definitely not a benefit for the owner. this trend does not continue into very low temperature ranges.06/kwh X 0. As the condensing temperature continues to fall. Reducing entering condenser water during part load results in lower lift and increased efficiency. the compressor is operating less efficiently. a result of lowering the gpm from 3 to 2. The claim is that towers and pumps are significant energy consumers and represent 16% and 26% respectively of the annual system energy consumption. If you consider a power bill at $. thus decreasing the efficiency of this flooded heat exchanger. the refrigerant begins to “hang-up” in the condenser due to the decreased pressure differential not pushing the liquid refrigerant through the refrigerant metering system. This of course results in more power consumption. the negative pressure chiller will run at a more stable condition during part load. The proposal is to reduce both pumping and cooling tower power consumption with a slight overall loss in total efficiency. . Coincidentally. this condition may begin to occur with entering condenser water temperatures at about 60° F. In fact.04 kw/ton X 5500 hours of operation (building) X 500 tons. the same manufacturer has issued an Engineering Bulletin that warns of this. thus causing this heat exchanger to operate less efficiently. a 2 gpm per ton may reduce pump and tower power along with a reduction in chill water piping size due to the large size of the central plant. The following is the excerpt from that bulletin: Reasons for Specifying a Condenser Refrigerant Pressure/Water Temperature The primary reason for specifying condenser refrigerant pressure/water temperature is to obtain optimum performance while maintaining a minimum pressure differential between the condenser and the evaporator for controlled refrigerant flow through the refrigerant metering system. the chiller is much more than the remaining 58% of power consumption. operating in the range of approximately 2000 tons. It is doubtful that you will make up that expense in the remaining 42% of the system (pumps/tower). the chiller efficiency may begin to worsen. This liquid refrigerant in the condenser covers some of the tubes.One of the latest marketing promotions by a manufacturer of chillers using negative pressure refrigerant HCFC-123 is the use of 2 gpm/ton water flow through the condenser. the evaporator begins to be “refrigerant starved”. that is $6. As the condenser water temperature continues to fall.600 in added energy expense at full load alone. Why specify a 2 gpm rate on a condenser and reduce the efficiency of the chiller? The answer is inherent to negative pressure chillers. a loss of 0. By raising the temperature in the condenser. and to prevent pressure imbalance which could cause oil loss or motor overheating problems. Also.

. The pressure differential experienced at the oil seals decreases as the leaving condensing water temperature approaches the leaving chilled water temperature. an in-depth understanding of the issues is required to know the whole truth. other than a recognized industry standard (3 gpm/ton)...Trane Engineering Bulletin CTV-EB-84 These conditions described in the engineering bulletin have a drastic effect on efficiency.. the owner of the system is left with a less efficient chiller along with system problems due to the undersized pumps and towers along with a possible chiller failure due to oil loss.. He can be reached at 315-433-4376 or E-Mail: jim. The 2 gpm/ton promotion may help the contractors budget by using smaller pumps and towers. For every 1 degree increase in approach temperature.carrier. approximately 3.8% loss in efficiency as the chiller goes into part load with reduced condenser water.Centrifugal chillers utilize differential pressure seals to separate lubricating oil from the refrigerant within the compressor.. The “refrigerant starved” cooler heat exchanger now lowers the approach temperature of the cooler or the ability to transfer heat from the water through the tubes to the refrigerant. there is no potential for oil loss.. (This efficiency loss also occurs at full load due to the leak factor. For every 1 psi of air leak into the chiller... a 1. so oil loss can occur. Carefully review your system requirements before you believe the marketing hype. . Oil loss through the seals results in oil migration into the cooler where oil foam will blanket the cooler tubes resulting in an 8% loss in efficiency for every 3% of added oil.5% loss in efficiency occurs.com . When a promotion to use a different condition (2 gpm/ton).. Combine this with the factor that negative pressure chillers leak inward on the cooler.parsnow@UTC. Jim Parsnow Director of Environmental Systems Marketing for Carrier Corporation assists building and operational managers in strategic considerations in the application of new refrigerants.3% efficiency loss takes place. As long as the minimum refrigerant pressure differential is maintained. However. 14 % of Efficiency Loss 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Refrigerant Starved Cooler Oil Migration Air Leaks Total 12% Negative Pressure Efficiency Losses The sum of these conditions could mean that a “so-called” benefit by using a negative pressure chiller at 2 gpm is to mask the potential of up to 12.