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MODULE 63

Chiller Plant
Technology
Part THREE
In the third and final part
of our chiller technology
Skills Workshop series,

PULLOUT

we look at piping
configurations for

Parallel Parallel
COP
Chillers

6.1

System

4.6

When it comes to designing chilled-water


plants, its possible to have your cake and eat
it too. Though not common, it is possible to
combine two great ideas and make an even
better system. Such is the case with major
design concepts covered in the last two
instalments of the chiller plant technology
Skills Workshop series (HVAC&R Nation issues
61 and 62), where we reviewed low-flow lowtemperature (LFLT) designs and variable-flow
operation of chilled-water plants.
These last two instalments showed that both
designing and operating chilled-water plants
using optimal temperature and flow parameters is
important in minimising parasitic power required
to transport heat from within the building to its
associated heat rejection systems.
When designers try to achieve both low-flow
and variable-flow operation in conventional
chilled-water plants, their designs are often
limited by the minimum flow of the chillers
if they are piped in parallel. When flows are
already low at design conditions, there is limited
flow range-ability (as described in the previous
issue of this series). Therefore, it is not possible
to vary the (already low) flow rates even further
for additional energy savings.
This can be overcome by reconfiguring the chiller
plant into a series-piped configuration, where
the designer can not only take advantage of low
design flow rates, but also the opportunity to vary
the flow rates at part-load.

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34.6oC

25 kW

COP 6.1

1100 kW

12.2oC
25 kW

29.4oC,
59 L/s
20 kW

6.7oC, 47 L/s

1100 kW

12.2oC

maximum efficiency.

29.4oC,
59 L/s
20 kW

34.6oC

34.6oC

COP 6.1

6.7oC, 47 L/s

Waterside
Lift

27.9 K
6.7oC

Note: Based on two screw chillers in parallel, sequenced at AHRI conditions. Pump heads at
400/250 kPa, cross-flow towers. System COP includes chillers, pumps & tower fans

Figure 1: Parallel chilled-water parallel condenser water piping

Parallel-piped
chilled-water
plant
A conventional parallel-piped chilled-water
plant consisting of two 1,100kW chillers that run
at AHRI design temperature and flow conditions is
shown in Figure 1. Pump power and cooling tower
fan power are selected in a way typical of plants
this size.
Notice the waterside lift noted at the bottom
of Figure 1 this provides an indication of the
work that the chiller compressor needs to perform
in order to operate its vapour compression cycle.
In Figure 1, both chillers are working against a lift
of 27.9K for this design. The lower the waterside
lift, the more efficient the chillers become
for a specific load.
Note also the blue side-table where the chillers
full-load co-efficient of performance (CoP) is
nominated along with the full-load system CoP

(see sidebar p.17). In the design, the chillers are


selected for a full-load CoP of 6.1, while the system
CoP is 4.6 at AHRI design conditions.

Series-piped
chilled-water
plant
One way of reconfiguring this issue is to pipe the
chilled water in series, such as in Figure 2. This makes
use of low chilled-water design flow to save pumping
energy. Piping this way will give a higher combined
chiller efficiency (CoP 6.3) due to the much more
lightly loaded upstream chiller, where the lift is only
24.6K compared to the downstream chiller, which
has a lift of 29.2K. Furthermore, because of the lower
chilled-water flows, the pumping power is reduced,
improving the system CoP to 5.0 at full-load. A system
CoP of 5.0 at design conditions is a good minimum
benchmark for chilled-water plant designs.

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HVAC&R SKILLS WORKSHOP Module 63


Note: The condenser water piping in this design
is still parallel, hence the name series-parallel
piping configuration.

Series Parallel
COP
Chillers

6.3

System

5.0

34.7oC

29.4oC,
62 L/s
21 kW
10.1oC

1080 kW

15.5oC
28 kW

COP 6.8

34.7oC

24.6 K

1020 kW

5.5oC,
52.4 L/s

COP 5.8

Waterside
Lift

29.2 K
10.1oC

Series counterflow piping (SCF)


plant

29.4oC,
57 L/s
19 kW

34.7oC

5.5oC

Note: Based on two screw chillers in series evap low flow, parallel cond. Pump heads at
400/250 kPa, cross-flow towers. System COP includes chillers, pumps & tower fans

Figure 2: Series chilled-water parallel condenser water piping

Series Counter-flow
COP
Chillers

6.4

System

5.2

36.1oC

10.1oC

1200 kW

15.5oC
28 kW

COP 6.4
36.1oC

1000 kW

5.5oC,
52.4 L/s

COP 6.3
31.7oC

26.0 K

Waterside
Lift

26.2 K
10.1oC

5.5oC

Figure
3: Series counter-flow
water
Note: Based on two screw chillers in series evap low
flow, counter-flow
cond. Pump heads
at piping
400/250 kPa, cross-flow towers. System COP includes chillers, pumps & tower fans

Parallel Configuration
Large Capacity Plants
6.6

System

5.7

30.5 K

Chillers

28.0oC,
349 L/s
116 kWp

36.0oC

COP

Large chilledwater plants


Larger centrifugal chillers generally have a myriad
of combinations of sizes of heat exchangers,
number of passes, and types of tubes that will
allow them to be used with low-flow designs,
while still accepting variable-flow operation when
piped in parallel.
An example of this is shown in Figure 4, with four
units of 2.5MW chillers piped in parallel, with lowflow chilled-water design of 11K dt and condenser
water of 8K dt.
Note that the chillers full-load CoP in this case is
6.6. Due to the low-flow configuration, waterside
lift is relatively higher at 30.5K. But with low
pumping power, this configuration achieves a
respectable full-load system CoP of 5.7.

Large plants series


counter-flow (SCF)
While larger plants can also adopt similar
SCF design techniques to those described
earlier for smaller chiller plants, one can also
make use of large chiller products specifically
designed for this purpose.

36.0oC

5.5oC

Waterside
Lift

When piped in series counter-flow (SCF), the two


chillers are acting as a two-stage chiller, sharing
the waterside lift and resulting in lower lift for each
chiller compared to parallel piping. A closer look
at Figure 3 will show that each chiller is working
to a reduced waterside lift of 26.2K, with increased
chiller efficiency to CoP 6.4. Low-flow on both
chilled water and condenser water increases the
plant CoP to 5.2 at full-load.
While such an arrangement is not common
among new plant designs, it does offer significant
benefits in energy consumption. This is especially
true when the system is controlled by a dedicated
chilled-water plant controller that can manage
and balance chiller loading, pumping of chilled
water to meet demand, bypass and minimum
flow controls, and cooling tower optimisation.

28.0oC,
75.5 L/s
25 kW

31.7oC

If series piping can be done on the chilled-water


side, then it technically makes sense that it should
be the same for condenser water. However, it
should be arranged in counter-flow to the chilledwater, as shown in Figure 3.

16.5oC

4 off
2.5MW,
COP 6.59

5.5oC,
217 L/s
113 kWp

Figure 4: Large chilled-water plant in parallel piping

July 2013 | HVAC&R Nation | www.hvacrnation.com.au

Chillers that have two independent refrigeration


circuits and two (duplex) compressors also
have water lines (chilled and condenser water)
in counter-flow, which essentially mimics the
SCF arrangement, only factory-packaged. This
configuration achieves the superior efficiencies
of SCF configuration with less plant room
installation costs. Refer to Figure 5.

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Module 63

HVAC&R SKILLS WORKSHOP

Parallel Configuration
Large Capacity Plants
Chillers

6.9

System

6.0

28.0oC,
344 L/s
115 kWp

36.0oC

COP

2 off
5.0 MW,
COP 6.91
36.0oC
26.0 K

26.0 K

16.5oC

10.0oC

5.5oC,
217 L/s
115 kWp

31.5oC

Waterside
Lift
5.5oC

Figure 5: Parallel piped series-counter-flow duplex chiller configuration

Chillers

7.4

System

6.3

36.0oC

28.0oC,
340 L/s
113 kWp

31.6oC

10oC

15.5oC
127 kWp

23.8 K

36.0oC

12.7oC
Waterside
Lift

5.5oC,
238 L/s

4.5MW,
COP 7.2

5.5MW,
COP 7.5
33.8oC

31.6oC
24.3 K

COP

23.2 K

PULLOUT

Series Series (counter-flow)


Large-Capacity Plants

10oC

7.7oC

Series-series counter-flow
To take this another step further, these SCF duplex
chillers can be piped in a series counter-flow

Conclusion
Despite the virtues of series piped chilled-water
plants, they may not be the answer to all chilledwater plants seeking the ultimate configuration for
energy efficiency. As with all options, it needs to be
evaluated against other competing configurations
specific to the project application. Factors such
as climatic conditions, building cooling load
profile, the use of economy cycles, airside system
design, and utilisation schedule all play a part in
determining the viability of an option. As such,
comprehensive evaluation of the options is
necessary to arrive at a solution that will work
for each project.
In conclusion of this three-part series in chiller
plant technology, it is evident that these concepts
could not rely on the traditional processes of
engineering specifications alone for equipment
selection and procurement. They do not go far
enough to ensure the necessary coordination of
the relevant disciplines involved in the project.
As the designs of chilled-water plants evolve
to become more holistic, the need for proper
coordination, controls, commissioning and
operator training becomes increasingly
important for such projects to be successful.

29.8oC

5.5oC

Figure 6: Series-series counter-flow piping

Due to the SCF duplex chiller packages, the chillers


full-load CoP improves to 6.9 as a result of reduced
waterside lift of 26.0K for each compressor of the
chiller sets. A corresponding increase is seen as an
overall system CoP improvement of 6.0.

Utilising variable-flow operation with these


designs enhances overall energy consumption,
especially when most plants operate at part-load
conditions. The conditions and caveats of variableflow as discussed in the previous issue do apply
in these series piped chilled-water plants.

arrangement, as shown in Figure 6. This means


that the chilled and condenser water passes
through four circuits in series, enabling each
circuit to share the waterside lift at about 24K.
As demonstrated, the chiller full-load CoP
now reaches 7.4, and along with low-flow design
parameters, the full-load system CoP achieves 6.3.
Such systems provide peak design performance with
reduced capital costs for large chilled-water plants.

System COP
System CoP is the overall efficiency
of a chilled-water plant, measured as
the ratio of the plant cooling capacity
output to the total power input
including chillers, pumps and cooling
tower fans. The tower fan power is
substituted by condenser fan power
for air-cooled systems.

More information
The information included in this Skills Workshop was adapted and reproduced, with permission, from the presentation
High Performance Chilled Water Systems, created by Simon Ho, M.AIRAH, of Trane. Simon assisted in the adaptation
of his work, and all images, graphs and charts courtesy of Simon Ho and Trane Ingersoll-Rand.
The full presentation can be viewed by visiting the AIRAH website, and selecting
the Resources and Division meeting presentations tabs.

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www.hvacrnation.com.au | HVAC&R Nation | July 2013