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CASE STUDIES: REAL WORLD

COOLING TOWER PERFORMANCE


JOHN KUEMPEL, JR; P.E.
DeBra-Kuempel
An EMCOR Company
Real World Cooling Tower Realty
Cooling towers are ugly
Cooling towers are heavy
Architects dont want them
ThereforeThey are installed in unfavorable
locations
Locations where operators dont visit
regularly
Operators
Never attended an ASHRAE meeting
Never read the instructions to operate their
central plant
Learned about controlling the central plant
from the previous operator
Operators think that design mechanical
engineers do not know how to run a central
plant.
Operators
Not all of the above myths are true
Utility cost is a measure of the operator
bonus
ThereforeThe most effective central plants
have the smartest operators
Case Studies
Comparison of similar plants results in
surprising results
Information gathered by interviewing the
operators on-site
Data collected of system performance by
combination of DDC system logs and/or
physical measurements during inspections
Two office buildings of similar size
Located in downtown area
Two district cooling plants
One in downtown, one located on large
university
Office Tower #1
18 story downtown class A building
Constructed in 1981
Central plant located in penthouse
Cooling tower located indoors in penthouse,
discharge through roof
Full air side economizer, central plant
operates only during the summer season
Total Chiller capacity 1350 tons
Chiller Plant for Office Tower 1
Operator Interview
We start the chillers required for the
weather report I watch the night before. I
once failed to have a machine available and
the sun came out. Boy, was I in trouble.
The cooling towers fan operate
automatically from the temperature control
system. They seem to cycle on and off a lot.
Office Tower #2
29 story downtown class A building
Constructed in 1985
Central plant located in penthouse
Cooling tower located inside penthouse,
discharge through roof
Water side economizer, cooling towers
operate year round
Total Chiller Capacity 1600 tons
Chiller Plant for Office Tower 2
Operator Interview
The cost of electrical demand charge is our
greatest concern. We may decide to relax
space air handler leaving air set points, or
even cycle the floor air handlers to get by on
one chiller. Once we start the 2
nd
chiller, we
pay for it all year long.
Our towers are controlled by the DDC
system. We send condenser water over all
the cells and vary all the fans in unison. The
condenser water set point is manually
adjusted as we see fit to optimize the chiller
KW by the operators.
Office Tower Operation Comparison
Tower #2
69.0 F
43.0 F
74.3 F
85.3 F
44.0 F
54.2 F
221 of 800
1.72
1.39
0.178
Tower #1
64.0 F
60.0 F
76.6 F
84.5 F
47.1 F
54.2 F
195 of 450
1.78
1.12
0.40
OAT
OA WB
CWS
CWR
CHWS
CHWR
Tons
KW/Ton Plant
KW/Ton Chiller
KW/Ton Tower
Case Study District Cooling Plants
Chiller plant for downtown office loop
Chillers located in basement
Cooling towers located on 6
th
story roof above
Chilled water provided as utility for surrounding
office buildings
Utility grade metering for operation
Operators provide with extensive energy
management tools
Total chiller capacity: 7200 tons
Chiller Plant for Downtown Loop
Operator Interview
Our automation system is in full control of
the chiller loading to maintain leaving water
temperature. Our primary goal is reliability.
We found that we need to manually operate
the maximum number of fans on the cooling
towers to reduce the plume on the roof.
Often, our condenser water temperature is
as low as possible to maintain stable chiller
operations. Our fans are constant speed,
however we experience fan failure and often
we to not have full fan capacity to rely on.
Chiller Plant for University
Chiller and cooling towers in building
Specially constructed as a central plant
Towers located directly above chillers
Chilled water provided to campus piping
network
Operators provide with extensive energy
management tools
Total Chiller Capacity: 24,000 tons
Chiller Plant for University
Operator Interview
Every aspect of the plant is automatic from
the control system. Each machine has an
associated sequence, where is pumps are
automatically started as additional load is
required.
Each tower cell cycles its constant speed
fan automatically to maintain its individual
sump temperature. Water is collected in an
underground basin and is a blend of all the
towers. We automatically vary condenser
water temperature based on outside air
temperature.
District Cooling Plant Comparison
Plant #2
75.0 F
68.5 F
72.0 F
82.1 F
42.7 F
53.6 F
6753 of 7700
0.85
0.565
0.077
Plant #1
86.42 F
75.19 F
77.0 F
84.0 F
44.93 F
51.37 F
2043 of 3600
1.05
0.72
0.1
OAT
OA WB
CWS
CWR
CHWS
CHWR
Tons
KW/Ton Plant
KW/Ton Chiller
KW/Ton Tower
Conclusions
Chiller plant KW/ton is not regularly
monitored by operators
Cooling tower KW/ton varies greatly in
smaller plants
Questions ?