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Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System


Damien Naidu 42661782
Kritik Prasad 42355894
Divya Sholaga 42332738
Caroline Yassa 42004747

Building Air

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
16 April 2014
Dr. Stephan Tait
School of Chemical Engineering
University of Queensland
Brisbane, QLD
Australia 4072
SUBJECT: Hawken Engineering Building Air-conditioning System
Dear Dr. Stephan Tait
Please find attached the following report which outlines how the Hawken Engineering Building Air-
conditioning System Operates. The team at BIOLINK has conducted a preliminary analysis on the process
operation as well as an overview on the control measures currently implemented.
Please find included in the report as per your request:
HEBACS Overview
Process Control diagram outlining major unit operations and streams
Control Strategy implemented
Suggested improvements and alterations
We look forward to hearing from you regarding further project developments. If you have any questions
of queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kind Regards,
BIOLINK Executive Team

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
Executive Summary
This report investigated the control systems involved in the Hawken Engineering Building Air
Conditioning System. The control systems are analysed and possible recommendations to improve the
process is provided.
The process involves three key units, which are the Cooling Tower, Vapour Compression Unit (VCU) and
the Air Handling Unit (AHU). This results in a the same thermodynamic principles a heat pump
undergoes, which is the removal of heat from the lecture rooms, to a external location which is that
The cooling tower uses a thermocouple to measure temperature and a logic controller determines what
fan speeds are required to maintain outlet temperature set point. Furthermore on the tower there are
also Oxygen Reduction Potential and pH probes connected to monitor the concentrations of pathogens
and scaling, which is countered using an anti-scaling and anti-bacterial dosing system. The required
dosages are determined based on the concentrations of the pathogens and scaling.
The Air Handing Unit utilizes a Resistance Temperature Detector to measure the temperature in the
room. Through a feedback loop the AHU adjusts the temperature of the air entering to meet the
required set point. There is a control valve on the cooled water line which controls the flow of water to
achieve certain temperatures. This system also has multiple safety controls such as a mechanical air
float switch and a second RTD to measure if the temperature in the vent is above 70C. In the case of
flow being too low or temperature being too high, the heating coils are isolated.
The Vapour Compression Unit has two control loops. One control loop is for the temperature at the
condenser outlet by varying flow, while the other is used at the heat exchanger to control the outlet
temperature of the water to ensure maximum efficiency.
Lastly recommendations were provided for improvements in the process. This includes the relocation of
the temperature probe to reduce inaccuracy errors, due to heat from the lighting and also a separate
dosing system for each the biocides and the anti scaling. Furthermore another recommendation was the
install a possible bypass to allow for chilled water from the evaporator outlet to be replaced with
warmer water to reduce heat duty.

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
1. Background
1.1 Purpose of Report and Scope
Upon attending the site of the Hawken Engineering Building Air-conditioning System (HEBACS), an
analysis of the process and the control systems was to be undertaken. The following report identifies
the main units which are associated with the cooling and heating of the buildings and how the process is
controlled. The lecture theatres, cooling tower, air handling unit and the compressor room are all
included within the scope of the project. In order to identify the primary control systems and issues, a
process flow diagram is to be constructed to aid with the analysis. The purpose of this report is to
further expand and solidify understanding of process control systems and to practically apply theoretical
knowledge to further improve the process
1.2 Process Overview
The air-conditioning system is broken up into three main sections: cooling tower, compressor room and
the air handling unit (AHU). These components all work in unison to ensure that the temperature in the
lecture theatres stay within comfortable levels 24hours a day.
Initially water is passed through a cooling tower in order to decrease the temperature. When it is
sufficiently cooled, this water passes through a refrigerant cycle where more heat is removed and the
temperature of the water further reduced. Following this, the water is sent to the air handling unit
where it is used to cool both fresh air and re-circulated air from the lecture theatres. The temperature at
which it is required is set by a temperature sensor in the rooms and is adjusted according to
There are several factors which need to be considered and controlled in the process such as the quality
of the water in the cooling tower and the temperature and quality of the air sent into the lecture
2. Process Description
HEBACS is required to operate full-time to service students, staff and guests at all hours of the day. As a
result, the process needs to be consistently operational and maintained on a regular basis. Although all
the units need to be fully operational to ensure the correct functioning of the process, one of the most
imperative is the cooling tower. It is here that the water used to cool the air needs to be conditioned
and prepared. As water in the cooling tank is accumulated and cooled by the overhead fan, it needs to
be consistently checked and maintained. Two major issues that arise are the presence of
microorganisms which can accumulate under the operating temperatures and the build-up of scale
within the tank and pipes due to the impurities in the water. These are overcome by the addition of anti-
scalant and biocide to breakdown scaling and inhibit organism growth respectively (see Appendix 6.1).

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
The water, which is cooled by the evaporative convection of the fan, is then passed to the condenser in
the compressor room (stream 7). A vapour compression cycle is utilized with the use of a refrigerant to
cool the incoming water to the desired temperate. Heat is removed from the refrigerant stream via the
water, which is consequently fed back to the cooling tower and recycled into the process (stream 8). The
condensed refrigerant passes through the throttling expansion valve where the pressure drop results in
flash evaporation of the refrigerant. As it flows through the evaporator (stream 9), it is vaporized by the
water prior to being compressed. Compression of the refrigerant then results in an increased
temperature of the vapour which is ready to be condensed again. This process will allow for the water to
be cooled to a significantly low temperature and be subsequently used to cool the air which is feed to
the lecture theatre.
Following the attainment of sufficiently cool water, the air handling unit is required to not only provide
the rooms with cool air, but to also re-circulate stagnant air to ensure quality standards are upheld. This
is accomplished by passing the air from the room and air drawn from the surroundings through a filter
to remove impurities. The conditioned air is then passed through a heat exchanger (stream 16) in which
the chilled water is used to cool the air and disperse it into the lecture theater (stream 18).
3. Control Systems
3.1 Control Strategy
The general strategy for control in the HEBACS is that it attempts to maintain a specific temperature in a
room by controlling multiple other variables, such as the heating of the heating coil or increases the flow
of water to the heat exchanger (see Appendix 6.2). This temperature is detected through the use of a
detector (RTD) in the rooms. There are individual process controls for the Cooling tower, the VCU and
the AHU which are discussed as follows:
Cooling Tower
Level controller In the HEBACS process, the cooling tower is essentially the sink and in order to avoid
the possibility of airlocks in the piping, having a level controller minimizes this possibility. The level
controller is in the form of a mechanical float in the sink connected the actuator on the freshwater
supply stream which helps maintain the required level. If the level of water in the sink drops below, the
actuator opens the freshwater supply stream and the sink is filled till it reaches the desired level. In
order to ensure that if the float control fails and the top up line does not close a bleed stream is utilized
to maintain the required level.
Temperature controller A fan at the top of the cooling tower has its speed manipulated based on a
thermocouple that reads the temperature of the inlet water stream and compares it to set-points.
Therefore, if the temperature is higher than the set-point, fan speed is increased by a motor to allow for
rapid heat removal.

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
Micro-organisms In order to avoid the formation of scales and build-up of micro-organisms doses of
anti-scalant (HYDRO429) and bioscide (HYDRO256) are injected as required. Dosing of these chemicals
relies on the pH and ORP (oxidation reduction potential) probes; these set-points are then compared to
current probe readings to control the dose of each of these chemical that need to be injected. The
chemicals are injected through 2 dosing pumps.
Temperature A temperature control loop controls the temperature of the refrigerant leaving the
condenser by manipulating the compressor output pressure, which is an indirect form of control. To
achieve this, a RTD sensor is used at the refrigerant outlet of the condenser which signals the
compressor, as a result the output pressure is altered, which results in an altered temperature at the
condenser outlet. Another temperature loop in place is to control the temperature of the of the cool
water stream from the AHU. Again, with the use of a RTD placed at the outlet of the water from the heat
exchanger, which signals to the throttling valve. The throttling valve based on the signals of the RTD
varies the inlet temperature to the heat exchanger and therefore influencing the outlet temperature of
An RTD sensor is used to measure the current room temperature with feedback to the PLC
(programming logic controller) which then either activates heating coil or increases water flow to the
heat exchanger. Essentially the air temperature is reduced through the use of cool water from the VCU
flowing through HVAC coils if the RTD measure the temperature to be too high. When too hot, the
controlled actuator opens the valve allowing more water to flow, and similarly closes the valve when it is
too cold. For air heating purposes a heating coil is used through the use of a feedback loop from the
RTD. Based on this signal, either heating through the coils will be increase or decreased. The set point is
maintained by overcoming disturbances through these two methods for heating and cooling.
3.2 Control Configuration
The control is designed in a way to ensure that that it is effective while safe from equipment damage
but also infrastructure damage. There system is designed to be efficient through the use of recycled
chilled water stream and air from the lecture theatre. This allows results in a lower demand on
A process control configuration of this system is the use of multiple temperature and pressure
controllers in the VCU. Through the use of temperature control in the expansion valve, there is sufficient
control of the temperature entering the evaporator, ensuring that over cooling or under cooling does
not occur. Similarly the compressor is configured with a pressure control valve to ensure over or under
pressurizing does not occur.
The safety configuration of the process is the AHU is designed to shut up when two specific conditions
are not met. The first is downstream from the heating coils, there is another RTD. This measures the
temperature of the air passing through. If the temperature is above the set point of 70C the heating

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
coils will shut off and air will pass through to cool. This is a safety mechanism to ensure that there is no
risk of ignition inside the vents or rooms, and also that there is no damage to the equipment. The
second control mechanism is the mechanical air flow switch. This is designed to shut off the power to
the heating coils when the airflow through the duct is too low. As low air flow can result in extreme
heating quickly and can also result in damage to equipment, as a high airflow is needed to maintain an
adequate temperature in the coil.
3.3 Control Issues
An issue with the design of these process controls is the overlapping of the cooling and heating systems
in the AHU. It can be expected that in the summer the heating of air by the heating coil mechanism
would be temporarily switched off. Similarly, in the winter months, the cooling system involving the
increased water flow to the heat exchanger can be turned off. However, if they were to be turned off, it
makes it harder to manipulate if there are weather changes. This is a result could be of great
inconvenience to the general public that use the Hawken Engineering building.

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
3.4 Process Control Diagram

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
3.5 Control Safety
In the current operations of the HEBACS system, there are a few safety considerations which are
implemented. The most apparent of these is the positioning of the units throughout the campus.
Due to the noise disturbance caused by both the cooling tower and the compressor room, they are
situated on the roof of the building and in an enclosed room respectively. To prevent disturbance to
the AHU, appropriate caging around the units is implemented. The isolation of the units from the
general public ensures that the operation of the HEBACS is not interfered with.
Another major safety issue is ensuring the quality of the air circulated as well as the air cooling the
rooms. To overcome organism growth, biocide is introduced upon requirement into the cooling
tower. The air quality is maintained by passing the air from the rooms and the surroundings through
filter prior to reintroduction to the required area.
One of the major operational concerns which may arise is the overheating of some of the
components in the compressor room and AHU. This is of particular concern during peak operational
hours and periods when the system cannot keep up with the demand. This problem is overcome by
the presence of alarms which activate when predetermined thresholds are exceeded.
4. Control Recommendations
Control can be more effective and accurate through a few potential changes. By installing the RTD
on the ceiling in close vicinity of lighting, there is a chance of inaccurate detection of the room
temperature, due to heat from the lighting. In order to rectify this, the location of the RTD could be
investigation to illustrate which area gives the most realistic reading of the actual room
temperature. Furthermore, during winter times when heating is used rather than cooling, due to the
rising of hot air, there may be inaccuracies present once again, as there will likely be a larger
temperature gradient from the top of the ceiling to the floor. This will allow for better control of the
system and will increase accuracy.
It appears that currently there is no chilled water purge stream present, resulting in the recycle of
chilled water. The temperature of the chilled water is higher than that of room temperature fresh
water. During months where heating is required rather than cooling, an effective recommendation
would be to bypass this chilled water line with fresh water. This can lead to less heating required
during winter months. Chilled water can be reused in other locations. This recommendation will
require major modifications of the system, which may potentially prove it to be unviable.
The system can be altered for better control by adding another dosing system for the chemicals. The
chemicals all appear to be coming from a single dosing system, which would indicate that in the
event of either chemical needing to be added in the system, both will be added. HydroChems Hydro
256 and Hydro 375 are both biocides for bacterial algae and slime growth and are fed into the
system together. At times only biocides are required, but anti-scaling is also added. Better control
over the system can be achieved using a separate dosing for each of these chemicals, as sometimes
one is fed in excess as the other is required.

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
5. Conclusions
In conclusion, from this report it can be seen that there are several stringent control loops currently
being utilized to ensure efficient working of the HEBACS system. This brief report adequately
highlights the importance of process controls in the form of control loops which incorporate sensors,
controllers and a wide range of equipment. There are a number of recommendations to improve the
efficiency and control of the process including ones leading to more efficient chemical dosing and
better temperature measurement configuration. Although going into meticulous detail is out of the
scope of this report, it provides the fundamentals to carry out an in-depth analysis if necessary.

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
6. Appendices

6.1 Dosing Area

Figure 1: Chemical Dosing Setup
Figure 2: Chemicals used in dosing

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
6.2 Air Flow Vent

Figure 3: Air Entry Point
Figure 4: Heating Coil Figure 5: Safety Shut Off

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
6.3 Chiller / Plant Room

Figure 6: Chilled Water Line
Figure 7: Condensor Water Line with Pump

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System

Figure 8: Centrifugal Compressor
Figure 9: Chilled Water Pump

Hawken Engineering Building Air Conditioning System
6.4 Control Loop Summary

Control Loop Measured Manipulated
L101 Level of water in cooling
Water let into tank
X101 Concentration of
microorganisms cooling
Amount of biocide
pH101 pH of cooling tower Amount of anti-scalant
T101 Temp of outlet water
from condenser
Speed of fan in cooling
T102 Temperature of stream
entering compressor
Flow rate of throttling
TSP103 Set point temp of
lecture theatre
Flow rate of refrigerant
to condenser
T104 Temp of air leaving
Heat exchanger
Open or close valve
(bypass heating)