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Primary and secondary


There are basically 3 flow conditions in

primary and secondary pumbing system
1. Primary flow equals secondary flow
2. Secondary flow is greater than primary
3. Primary flow is greater than secondary

Primary flow equals secondary flow

The chiller is supplying 1500 GPM of 45F

water to the load systems.
Because the load is equal to 625 tons, the
return water temperature to the chiller is
55F at a flow rate of 1500 GPM. The
thermal balance is complete. There is no
flow in the common pipe.

Secondary Flow Greater Than

Primary Flow

To increase the flow rate to 2000 GPM.

The one chiller that is operating will accept
only 1500 GPM and to balance the mass
flow, the excess 500 GPM must run
through the common pipe.Look also at the
temperature relationships.

The temperature of the 500 GPM in the

common pipe is 55F. This blends with the
1500 GPM of 45F supply water, resulting
in 2000 GPM of 47.5F blended supply

To deal with this situation, they will

immediately start additional chiller that will
result in primary flows greater than the
secondary This requirement leads to a
simple design rule:

primary circuit flow should equal or

slightly exceed secondary circuit design
flow rate. In short, flow in the reverse
primary direction in a de-coupler bridge is
not good.

Primary flow greater than

secondary flow

The flow rate through two chillers is fixed, this time at 3000
GPM. The new secondary load is say 875 tons, which
corresponds to demand rate of 2100 GPM at10 F delta -T
across the cooling coils. There will be excess flow of 900
GPM in de-coupler as 2100 GPM circulates in the
secondary loop and 3000 GPM is being pumped into the
primary loop.

Look at temperature relationships. The 900

GPM common flow at45F blends with the
2100 GPM at 55F to produce 3000 GPM at
52F. This is lower than the desired return
water temperature of 55F, which makes it
impossible to fully load the on-line chillers
and robs the plant of its rated
capacity..low T syndrome.


Constant Flow through Evaporator

Simplified Controls
Past Experience
Divided Hydraulic Head


Does not resolve Low T Syndrome:

Capital Investment:
Higher Operating and Energy Costs:
Requires More Plant Space:

constant primary and constant


Primary pumps are lower horsepower than the

secondary pumps because they only have to
overcome the friction loss associated with the
chiller, pipes, and valves in the primary loop. The
secondary pumps, in contrast, are higher
horsepower because they must overcome the
friction loss associated with the secondary loop:
the distribution piping, fittings, valves, coils, etc.
The secondary loop contains 3-way valves to
vary chilled water quantity through the coil in
response to load but the total quantity of flow in
secondary loop remains the same.

constant primary and variable


The constant speed pumps in secondary

circuit are replaced with variable speed
pumps. The speed of the secondary
pumps is determined by a controller
measuring differential pressure (DP)
across the supply-return mains or across
the selected critical zones. The decoupled
section isolates the two systems

Also the system uses two-way valves in the air

handlers that modulate secondary loop flow rate
with load requirements. During light load
condition, the 2-way control valves will close
partially or fully in response to load conditions,
resulting in pressure rise in the secondary chilled
water loop. A differential pressure sensor
measures the pressure rise in the secondary
loop and signals variable frequency drive of
secondary pumps to alter the speed

Primary-secondary variable-flow systems

are more energy efficient than constantflow systems, because they allow the
secondary variable-speed pump to use
only as much energy as necessary to
meet the system demand. Refer to the
schematic below.

primary pumps

A constant flow system is the simplest

chilled water distribution scheme. Here, a
set of constant speed pumps distributes
fixed quantity of water at all times and the
temperature varies to meet the load.

The system uses 3-way control valves at air

handler coils that allow some water to
bypass the cooling coil during part load
conditions. At low loads, the chilled water
flow through the cooling coil is restricted
but the total quantity returned to the chiller
remains constant

Tandem pumps

Here each pump is dedicated to its respective

chiller i.e. pump 1 is piped directly to chiller 1
and whenever this chiller is operating its \
dedicated pump should be operating.Another
benefit of dedicated pumps is that they can
handle unequally sized chillers without using
control valves and .

flow measurement devices to balance

the correct flow to each chiller The
downside is that a standby pump cannot
be started automatically by the building
control system, but instead needs manual

Headered pump

This gives the users the ability to use any

pump for the system.This is a advatage
when one system is under maintenance.
Also, headered pumps give users the
ability to operate more than one pump for
a single chiller. This can help solve a low
T problem by increasing primary flow
and forcing a chiller to a greater load when
the return temperature is less than design.



In a variable primary flow (VPF) system, chilled

water flow is allowed to vary throughout the loop,
including the chiller evaporators. In this system,
the secondary pumps are eliminated, the
primary pumps provide variable flow to supply
system demand to the extent tolerated by the
chillers, and the decoupling bypass of the
primary/secondary system has been replaced by
a bypass with a normally closed control valve
that opens only to maintain minimum flow
through active chillers.

The pumps in a typical VPF system

operate to maintain a target differential
pressure (Delta P) at a specific point in the
system. This pressure difference tends to
decrease when the terminals (air-handlers
or fan-coils) two-way control valves open
in response to increasing loads.

To restore the Delta P across the system,

the pump controller increases the speed of
the pump. Conversely, when the terminals
control valves close in response to
decreased coil loads, the pump controller
slows the pump speed to maintain the
target Delta P. Meanwhile, the plant
controller stages the chillers on and off to
match cooling capacity with system load.

VPF systems are not prone to low T
VPF provides enhanced capacity
Capital Investment
Lower Operating and Energy Costs
Requires Less Plant Space