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Understanding Chiller Technologies

 Manager - Energy Management

Eng. Sujeewa Fernando

Manager - Energy Management

Access Energy Solutions


Air conditioning and ventilation system design for a large building (P1)

Advancements in chiller technologies are allowing commercial buildings to cut their cooling overheads by as much as 40%. However, due to the technical nature of the subject matter, and the lack of industry standards on how to calculate the returns, many companies are  reluctant  to upgrade  their older chiller systems.

In this article we address the former concern, in an attempt to put these technologies into context and explain how a chiller system works. 


What is a Chiller System?

A chiller system is a central air conditioning system that transfers heat from inside a building to outside it, into the atmosphere. Most commercial chillers here utilise water to carry this heat during the transfer transfer. 



Illustrated diagram of how a chiller system works

The system absorbs heat from the building and releases it into the atmosphere. (P1)

How Does Your Chiller Work?

Heat from the building is absorbed into a stream of water, circulating the building, through the Air Handling Unit (AHU)  before being pumped back to  the evaporator. Here a refrigerant, absorbs heat from the water. The refrigerant is then passed on to the condenser where the heat is transferred from the refrigerant into another stream of water.  This stream leads to a cooling tower that releases the heat it’s carrying into the atmosphere.

In order to understand which components need to be upgraded, it is essential to know the key components of a chiller and how they function. Upgrading these components and connecting them to a building management system (BMS) also helps with the maintenance of the system.  



Image of a maintenance engineer looking at monitor

A single maintenance engineer can overlook the entire system (P2)

Monitoring and Maintenance

Connecting your chiller to a Building Management System (BMS), provides an easy monitoring interface to  keep track of  key system variables. This allows a single maintenance engineer to have an overview of the system operating in real time and to identify problems before they impact its operation.

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