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Primary/Secondary-Loop

vs.
Primary-Loop-Only Systems
Comparison of operational modes
and performance of two schemes for
optimizing chilled-water plants

control), even if flow in the secondary loop (which has its


own pump, variable-speed Pump 2) varies significantly.1,2
Pump 1 is sized to maintain water flow between the chiller
evaporators minimum and maximum allowable values.

By ALEXANDER L. BURD, PHD, PE, and GALINA S. BURD, MS


Advanced Research Technology LLC
Sufeld, Conn.

Typical Control Strategy

In the system in Figure 1, the direction of water flow


in the decoupling pipe is not controllable and may vary,
depending on the ratio of flow in the secondary and
primary loops.
Various modes of operation of the system were investigated.3,4 The major parameters in the evaluation of energy
efficiency were supply- and return-water temperature and
flow rate before and after the decoupling pipe separating
the primary and secondary loops.

Subdividing various systems into a primary/secondary


(P/S) loop via a hydraulically dependant interconnection
long has been a standard solution for central chilled-water
plants in the United States and Europe. This achieves, at
a relatively low cost, reasonably good hydraulic separation of central-water-plant cooling-generation systems
(primary loop) from distribution piping
Primary loop
and terminal units (secondary loop).
(generation-system piping)
Secondary loop (distribution-system piping)
Primary-loop flow is relatively conLoad
stant, while secondary-loop flow varies
based on load demand. Primary- and
VFD
secondary-loop water flows are interVFD
changeable.
P2
t1
t3
In a primary loop, control is achieved
B
Chiller
P1
by maintaining a relatively constant flow
3
2
F2
rate; water temperature may be changed
A
t4
t2 1
F1
via a reset control. This commonly is
referred to as a qualitative control strat1 = Optional constant or variable speed with variable-frequency-drive (VFD)
egy. In a secondary loop, control typiprimary-loop pump
2 = Variable-speed secondary-loop pump with VFD
cally is achieved by varying water-flow
3 = Non-controllable bidirectional decoupling pipe (AB or BA direction) between primary
rate. This commonly is referred to as a
and secondary loop
F1 = Flow-meter primary-loop flow rate
quantitative control strategy.
F2 = Flow-meter secondary-loop flow rate
Figure 1 depicts a system with a cont1 = Temperature of water leaving chiller
t2 = Temperature of water returning to chiller
stant- or variable-flow primary loop
t3 = Secondary-loop supply-water temperature
and a variable-flow secondary loop.
t4 = Secondary-loop return-water temperature
The dedicated constant-speed Pump 1
P1 = Pressure differential for controlling F1 in Pump 1
P2 = Pressure differential for controlling F2 in Pump 2
maintains practically constant flow in
the primary loop (the pump does not FIGURE 1. Optimized control strategy for chilled-water plant with primary (constant- or
have variable-frequency-drive [VFD] variable-flow)/secondary (variable-flow) loop.

Alexander L. Burd, PhD, PE, is president of and Galina S. Burd, MS, is a project manager for Advanced Research Technology, an
engineering and research consulting firm with offices in Suffield, Conn., and Green Bay, Wis. Alexander (aburd@energyart.net)
has 35 years of experience in the design, research, and optimization of HVAC and district energy systems, which includes
publication of more than 35 research and technical papers in American and European journals, while Galina (gburd@energyart
.net) has more than 25 years of design and research experience in the HVAC and architectural-engineering fields. She has
co-authored many technical and research papers published in American journals.
36

HPAC ENGINEERING

DECEMBER 2010

Mode 1. When water flow in the secondary loop (F2)


exceeds water flow in the primary loop (F1) because of a
load increase, a portion of the water returning from the
secondary loop recirculates into the supply-distribution
system (A-to-B direction) and mixes with the flow in the
primary loop. This mode of operation is represented
by the following equations: F2 > F1, t3 > t1, t2 = t4, and
(t4 t3) < (t2 t1).
Mode 2. When water flow in the secondary loop (F2)
is less than water flow in the primary loop (F1) because
of a load reduction, flow in the decoupling pipe reverses
(B-to-A direction). Thus, the excessive flow exiting the
cooling-generation system returns to the primary-loop
system and the chiller. This mode of operation is represented by the following equations: F1 > F2, t1 = t3, t2 < t4,
and (t4 t3) > (t2 t1).
Mode 3: When the flow in the primary loop (F1) equals
the flow in the secondary loop (F2), there is no flow in the
decoupling line. All water from the secondary loop returns
to the primary loop and chiller, while all water exiting the
chiller flows through the secondary loop. This mode of operation is represented by the following equations: F1 = F2,
t1 = t3, t2 = t4, and (t2 t1) = (t4 t3). Obviously, this mode of
operation is the most beneficial from an energy perspective.

Optimized Control Strategy


Figure 1 depicts the optimized control strategy (Mode
3). Unlike a system with an optional constant-speed
primary-loop pump, the system has an additional VFD
controlling the speed of the primary-loop pump. The
rate of water flow in the secondary loop via Pump 2 is
dependent on system load. Water-flow rate in the primary
loop is a function of water-flow rate in the secondary loop
and adjusted to maintain equalized flow.
Following are simplified thermal-balance equations applicable for both primary and secondary loops, assuming
the specific heat of water does not change appreciably:
QPR = QSEC
QPR = F1 (t2 t1) = F1 (tPR)
QSEC = F2 (t4 t3) = F2 (tSEC)
F1 tPR = F2 tSEC
F1 = F2
tPR = tSEC

(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)

where:
QPR = Primary-loop cooling load, British thermal units
per hour
QSEC = Secondary-loop cooling load, British thermal

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DECEMBER 2010

HPAC ENGINEERING

37

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

units per hour


t PR = Primary-loop temperature
differential, degrees Fahrenheit
tSEC = Secondary-loop temperature differential, degrees Fahrenheit
Equations 5 and 6 essentially represent the algorithm for the control
of chilled-water plants. For the system in Figure 1, control is accomplished by varying the speed of
Pump 1. The pumps speed should
not be reduced to the extent waterflow rate falls below the allowable
low limit or increased to the extent
water-flow rate exceeds the allowable high limit.
The building-automation system
would have to limit VFD-turndown
and turn-up ratios to stay within
the range of allowable current frequencies correlated to the range of
allowable primary-loop water-flow
rates. To better match primary- and
secondary-loop water-flow rates,
two-phase control is suggested. The
first phase could consist of quantitative control in both the primary
and secondary loops (Equation
5) while the chilled-water-supply
temperature remained at a given
constant value. The second phase
could consist of qualitative control
in the primary loop and quantitative control in the secondary loop.
(The order in which the control actions are implemented may vary.)
Reset water-temperature control
(Equation 6) could be realized by
varying water temperature (t1) at
a given fixed (limited) magnitude
of water-flow rate in the primary
loop. The change in water temperature would impact flow rate in the
secondary loop indirectly; flow via
the primary-loop pump could not
be changed further because of the
aforementioned evaporator-flow
limitations. The P/S-loop system
with variable flow and temperature
control in both loops in Figure 1 is
very versatile, allowing the establishment of flow-limiting parameters and temperature set points (t1)
over a given time period.
38

HPAC ENGINEERING

DECEMBER 2010

Distribution-system piping loop


Load

Generation-system piping loop


VFD

P2
t3

F2

t1
P1

2
t4

t2

Chiller

F1

1 = Primary-loop-only variable-speed pump with variable-frequency drive (VFD)


2 = Automatic control valve for converting primary-loop-only system to constant primary-loop and
variable secondary-loop flow operation (single AB-direction controllable flow decoupling pipe)
F1 = Flow-meter generation-system-piping-loop flow rate
F2 = Flow-meter distribution-system-piping-loop flow rate
t1 = Temperature of water leaving chiller
t2 = Temperature of water returning to chiller
t3 = Distribution-system-piping-loop supply-water temperature
t4 = Distribution-system-piping-loop return-water temperature
P1 = Pressure differential for controlling F1
P2 = Pressure differential for controlling F2

FIGURE 2. Primary-loop-only-variable-flow control system.

Primary-Loop-Only-Variable-Flow
Control System
A primary-loop-only-variable-flow
(PLOVF) control system employs
a single pump to circulate water
through generation- and distribution-system piping loops (Figure 2).
This arrangement allows uniformly
distributed variable flow throughout
entire systems. The generation- and
distribution-piping systems have a
dependant flow-control arrangement, unlike the generation- and
distribution-piping systems in the
P/S-loop system in Figure 1, which
have an independent flow-control
arrangement with two dedicated
pumps. When flow in a PLOVF distribution system varies because of
a load change, a VFD control varies
the speed of the pump. If flow in the
distribution system falls below the
chillers low limit, an automatic control valve modulates to divert flow
from the supply line of the distribution system back to the chiller (A-to-B
direction). This system, unlike the
P/S-loop system in Figure 1, does not
have the ability to bypass the chiller
if flow in the distribution system
exceeds the chillers high-limit flow.
For this capability to be provided in a
PLOVF system, a second controllable
decoupling pipeline with automatic

control valve and reversed flow direction would have to be added on


the other side of the pump. Otherwise, another chiller, as well as ancillary equipment (i.e., chilled-water
pump, cooling tower, condenser
pump), would have to be placed online, which would result in increased
chiller-plant power demand as soon
as flow in the distribution system
exceeded the high-level limit.
A PLOVF system essentially is
capable of maintaining limited total
flow rate. Typically, control of systems
with flow-rate-limiting devices 5 is
achieved by assigning priority status
to one of the two loads. For instance,
in a district-heating-system customer
substation with space-heating and
domestic-hot-water loads, priority is
given to the domestic-hot-water load.
The space-heating load has substantial thermal inertia and the ability to
temporarily accept a lower waterflow rate without noticeable impact
on air temperature. In a PLOVF system, two systems that typically have
low thermal inertia (space cooling) or
no inertia at all (chiller-evaporatorwater flow) share the same level of
priority control.
Control of a PLOVF system is
somewhat more challenging than
control of a P/S-loop system. This

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

Chilled-water temperature differential is critical to P/S and PLOVF


operations in that it determines
chilled-water flow per cooling ton.
Impacting chilled-water temperature
differential most significantly are the
end-users connected to chiller plants.
Take, for instance, an air-handling
unit (AHU) with the following parameters:
Air is cooled in a counterflow
chilled-water coil.
The design cooling load is 28.5
tons.
The design sensible and latent
loads are 76 percent and 24 percent
of the design cooling load, respectively.
The cooling load varies in direct
proportion to outdoor dry-bulb air
temperature.

to be reduced to about 21 percent of


its design magnitude. For the same
reduction in cooling-coil capacity to
be achieved with the VAFC system,
relative chilled-water flow rate would
have to be reduced to about 35 percent of its design magnitude. The bottom graph in Figure 3 indicates the
CAFC system will increase the relative chilled-water temperature differential by a factor of about 1.9 when
the relative cooling load is reduced
to 40 percent of its design magnitude.
For the same conditions, the VAFC
system will increase relative chilledwater temperature differential by a
factor of only about 1.2. Thus, the
same relative reduction in chilledwater flow via the cooling coil would
result in about 1.6-times-higher relative chilled-water temperature differential with the CAFC system than it
would with the VAFC system.

Chiller-evaporator low-limit flow


control. Various control strategies
can be utilized to ensure the sustain-

1.0

Chilled-water-coil
relative cooling load

Chilled-Water-System
Temperature Differential

The cooling coil has a two-way


chilled-water control valve to vary
water flow through the coil to satisfy
loads.
The cooling coil is selected for
15F design chilled-water temperature differential.
The design chilled-water flow via
the cooling coil at 40F inlet water
temperature is 45.7 gpm.
End-user load control. The authors
considered two types of AHU cooling-load-control systems: constant
airflow control (CAFC) and variable
airflow control (VAFC). Maximum
airflow turndown ratio was assumed
to be 3.4 at a relative cooling load
of 0.29 and lower. The top graph
in Figure 3 shows the CAFC system requires a substantially greater
change in relative chilled-water flow
to achieve the same level of variation
in cooling-coil load. For instance, for
cooling-coil capacity to be reduced
to 40 percent of the design load, relative chilled-water flow would have

0.8
CAFC
VAFC
0.6

0.4

0.2
0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

0.8

1.0

Cooling-coil relative chilled-water flow rate

Chilled-water-coil relative
chilled-water temperature differential

is because a PLOVF system has to


maintain two variables that are continually fighting: a given set point
of pressure differential (P2) in the
distribution-system loop and a given
set point of pressure differential (P1)
in the generation-system-piping
loop. Thus, overall control-strategy
execution and system operation may
be less accurate and stable, and an
allowance for the possible deviation
from the control-parameter set point
may have to be made. Typically, to
avoid a chiller shutting down because
of insufficient flow, the set point for
low-limit flow via the evaporator is
increased. Because any problems
with the modulating control valve
could impair system performance or
even shut down the entire chilledwater system, the application of reset
chilled-water-temperature control
during off-design conditions (when
the chilled-water-flow limitation is in
place) is difficult. In comparison with
a P/S-loop system, design chilledwater temperature may be constant
and elevated in a PLOVF system,
which may lead to increased costs
for distribution piping, pumping,
cooling coils, etc.

2.0
1.8
1.6
CAFC
1.4
1.2
VAFC
1.0
0.2

0.4

0.6
Cooling-coil relative chilled-water flow rate

FIGURE 3. Air-handling-unit-cooling-coil operational parameters with variable (VAFC) and


constant (CAFC) airflow control.
DECEMBER 2010

HPAC ENGINEERING

39

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

Chilled-water-coil
relative cooling load

0.8
0.6

0.4
0.2
0.0

Cooling-coil chilled-water temperature


differential, degrees Fahrenheit

ability of a systems low-limit chilledwater flow. Figure 4 shows the reset


water-temperature control required
to maintain a given low-limit waterflow level when relative cooling load
changes from 0.64 to 0.17 of design.
The temperature of water entering
the cooling coil increases as load
decreases. Limited chilled-water
flow is maintained by increasing the
temperature of water entering the
cooling coil.
The variation in relative cooling
load from 0.67 to 0.17 requires the
temperature of water entering the
coil to be increased from 40F to
about 52F. The bottom graph in
Figure 4 indicates chilled-water temperature differential will be reduced
from 15F at the relative cooling load
of 0.67 to 3.7F at the relative cooling
load of 0.17.

40

41

42

43
45
46
48
49
50
47
51
44
Cooling-coil inlet chilled-water temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

52

53

16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
40

41

42

43
45
46
48
49
50
47
51
44
Cooling-coil inlet chilled-water temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

52

53

Other factors impacting chilledwater-system temperature differential. Chilled-water temperature

FIGURE 4. Cooling-coil inlet chilled-water temperature, relative cooling load, and


temperature differential with low-limit chilled-water-flow control.

differential also can be impacted by


deposits on the inside and outside
surfaces of cooling coils. Proper and
timely cleaning of heat-exchanger
heat-transfer surfaces, thus, is
important,6 as is cleaning of chilledwater cooling coils and chiller evaporators and condensers.
Because of the complexity of
real-life conditions, it is unrealistic
to expect an increase in cooling-coil
chilled-water temperature differential coinciding with a reduction in
cooling load. If a system is balanced
and well-maintained, temperature
differential will remain relatively
close to its design value during offdesign conditions.

the example chilled-water primary


piping system was assumed to vary
from about 2.1F to 22.4F (Table
1). The magnitude of the temperature differential at the chillers
design cooling load was limited by
the allowable minimum and
maximum flow at a given number of

evaporator passes. Low-level flow


rate was specified to ensure evaporator operation with sufficient heatexchanger-tube water velocity. Highlevel flow rate was specified to ensure
evaporator operation with allowable
heat-exchanger-tube velocity and
avoid unstable heat transfer and tube

Number of evaporator passes

Low-limit evaporator-water flow rate, gallons per minute

964

482

321

Maximum evaporator chilled-water temperature differential,


degrees Fahrenheit

7.5

14.9

22.4

Minimum evaporator specific chilled-water flow rate per cooling ton,


gallons per minute per ton

3.2

1.6

1.1

3,473

1,737

1,158

Minimum evaporator chilled-water temperature differential,


degrees Fahrenheit

2.1

4.1

6.2

Distribution-piping-system design
temperature differential. Distribution-

Maximum evaporator specific chilled-water flow rate per cooling ton,


gallons per minute per ton

11.6

5.8

3.9

piping-system design temperature


differential impacts the installed and
operating costs of central chilledwater systems. For retrofit projects,
such as conversion from directexpansion cooling coils to central
chilled-water cooling coils, the cost of
distribution piping could run as high
as 30 percent of the entire system.3,4
Design temperature differential for

Relative evaporator-water-flow-rate variation

3.6

3.6

3.6

40

HPAC ENGINEERING

DECEMBER 2010

High-limit evaporator flow rate, gallons per minute

Notes:
1. Relative evaporator-water flow rate shows the ratio of maximum to minimum specific
chilled-water flow rate at the given fixed number of evaporator passes.
2. Minimum allowable water-flow rate (gallons per minute) via evaporator at a water velocity of
3.3 fps at a given number of passes could be calculated as minimum specific flow rate
(gallons per minute per ton) multiplied by design cooling load (tons).
3. Maximum allowable water-flow rate (gallons per minute) via evaporator at water velocity of
12 fps at a given number of passes could be calculated as maximum specific flow rate
(gallons per minute per ton) multiplied by design cooling load (tons).
4. Parameters based on the performance of a 300-ton centrifugal chiller.

TABLE 1. Chiller-evaporator design operational parameters.

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

MCRCL = [1 (TDEMAX TDEMIN)]


SOSF 100, %
where:
TDEMAX = maximum chiller-evaporator design temperature differential
TDEMIN = minimum chiller-evaporator design temperature differential
SOSF = system operational safety
factor, which increases minimum
chilled-water flow via a chillers
evaporator (for PLOVF) to prevent
chiller shutdown on low flow
The higher water-flow turndown
ratios (WFTDRs) in Table 2 are
advantageous because they allow
optimal operation of a system to
satisfy cooling loads.

Chilled-Water Turndown Ratio


and Energy Savings
Figure 5 shows WFTDR patterns
for various control strategies. The
system was assumed to use mechanical free cooling at outdoor dry-bulb
air temperatures of 55F and below.
Also, system cooling load was assumed to change linearly in direct
proportion to outdoor dry-bulb air
temperature.
The following options, shown in
Table 2, were considered:

Option 1
TDEMIN = 15F, TDEMAX = 22.4F,
WFTDR = 1.5
This means relative chillerevaporator chilled-water flow could
be reduced to 67 percent of its

Maximum chiller-evaporator design temperature


differential, TDEMAX,
degrees Fahrenheit

Minimum chiller-evaporator
design temperature
differential, TDEMIN,
degrees Fahrenheit

Allowable reduction
in water-flow turndown ratio (TDEMAX
to TDEMIN), times

Allowable
MCRCL,
percent

22.4

15.0

1.5

73.6

22.4

10.0

2.2

49.0

22.4

6.2

3.6

30.5

Notes:
1. Allowable reduction in chilled-water flow rate in distribution piping system the ratio of TDEMAX
to TDEMIN.
2. Data adapted from Table 1 (chiller with three-pass evaporator).
3. Minimum allowable flow rate via chiller evaporator increased by 10 percent to ensure chiller
in PLOVF system will not be turned down on low-level evaporator flow rate.
4. MCRCL = Minimum chiller relative cooling load, at which Bypass Control Valve 2 in Figure 2
will remain closed.

TABLE 2. Considered design temperature differentials for chiller evaporators serving


primary/secondary and primary-loop-only systems.
design value.
Relative chilled-water flow via the
pump serving the PLOVF system
in Figure 2 will follow two straight
lines outlined by the triangle ACB in
Figure 5 and remain constant at the
level designated by straight line CB.
Although relative water flow via the
distribution-piping system will follow the load change, the bypass valve
will be open to ensure the required
Primary/secondary and primary-loop-only
relative flow rate

erosion. Lower water-flow rates


relate to higher chilled-water temperature differentials and vice versa.
Table 1 indicates temperature
differential is dependent on number of evaporator passes. It shows
evaporator relative water-flow rate
remains the same (i.e., 3.6the ratio
of maximum to minimum tube water
velocities) for all considered number
of evaporator passes.
Allowable minimum chiller relative cooling load (MCRCL) in Table
2 was calculated using the following
equation:

low-limit chiller-evaporator flow is


maintained. This means the pump
will run at the constant flow rate
indicated by the straight line CB.
P/S-loop systems with variableprimary and secondary-loop pumping could provide energy savings
(compared with the PLOVF-system
operation indicated by straight line
CB in Figure 5) while dry-bulb outdoor-air temperature ranged from

1.00
A

0.75 B
C

0.50 H
D

0.25
E

0.00
55

65

75

85

95

105

Outdoor dry-bulb air temperature, degrees Fahrenheit


AC = Secondary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop pumps
(TDEMIN = 15F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
CB = Minimum primary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop
pumps (TDEMIN = 15F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
ACB = PLOVF-system relative flow-rate variation (TDEMIN = 15F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
AD = Secondary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop pumps
(TDEMIN = 10F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
DH = Minimum primary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop
pump (TDEMIN = 10F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
ADH = PLOVF-system relative flow-rate variation (TDEMIN = 10F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
AF = Secondary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop pumps
(TDEMIN = 6.2F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
FG = Minimum primary-loop relative flow-rate value in systems with constant- and variable-flow primary-loop
pumps (TDEMIN = 6.2F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
AFG = PLOVF-system relative flow-rate variation (TDEMIN = 6.2F, TDEMAX = 22.4F)
AE = Relative flow-rate variations for secondary-loop pumps for all considered P/S-loop systems and
TDEMIN and TDEMAX values

FIGURE 5. Primary/secondary and primary-loop-only relative chilled-water-flow variation.


DECEMBER 2010

HPAC ENGINEERING

41

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

55F to 83F because of the variable


secondary-loop pumping (Pump 2 in
Figure 1) depicted by straight line CE
in Figure 5.

Option 2

Option 3
TDEMIN = 6.2F, TDEMAX = 22.4F,
WFTDR = 3.6
This means relative chiller-evaporator chilled-water flow could be
reduced to 27.7 percent of its design
value.
Relative chilled-water flow via the
pump serving the PLOVF system
in Figure 2 will follow two straight
lines outlined by the triangle AFG in
Figure 5 and remain constant at the
level designated by straight line FG.
Although water flow via the distribution-piping system will follow the
load change, the bypass valve (2) will
be open to ensure the required lowlimit chiller-evaporator flow is maintained. This means the pump will run
42

HPAC ENGINEERING

DECEMBER 2010

100
Cumulative load
time-duration factor, percent
(at load equal to or lower than shown)

TDEMIN = 10F, TDEMAX = 22.4F,


WFTDR = 2.2
This means relative chiller-evaporator chilled-water flow could be
reduced to 44.6 percent of its design
value.
Relative chilled-water flow via the
pump serving the PLOVF system
in Figure 2 will follow two straight
lines outlined by the triangle ADH in
Figure 5 and remain constant at the
level designated by straight line DH.
Although water flow via the distribution-piping system will follow the
load change, the bypass valve (2) will
be open to ensure the required lowlimit chiller-evaporator flow is maintained. This means the pump will run
at the constant flow rate indicated by
straight line DH.
P/S-loop systems with variableprimary and secondary-loop pumping could provide energy savings
(compared with the PLOVF-system
operation indicated by straight line
DH in Figure 5) while dry-bulb outdoor-air temperature ranged from
55F to 74F because of the variable
secondary-loop pumping (Pump 2 in
Figure 1) depicted by straight line DE
in Figure 5.

Systems with 80-percent PCCLC


Systems with 0-percent PCCLC
Systems with 26-percent PCCLC
Systems with 100-percent PCCLC

Systems with 62-percent PCCLC


Systems with 50-percent PCCLC
Systems with 38-percent PCCLC
Systems with 15-percent PCCLC

90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Relative cooling load, percent


Notes:
1. Constant load percentage based on ratio of constant-cooling-load component that does not change
during mechanical cooling season to design cooling load.
2. Relative cooling load shows ratio of current load to design cooling load.
3. PCCLC = Percentage of constant-cooling-load component.

FIGURE 6. System relative cooling load and cumulative time-duration factor.


at the constant flow rate indicated by
straight line FG.
P/S-loop systems with variableprimary and secondary-loop pumping could provide energy savings
(compared with the PLOVF-system
operation indicated by straight line
DH in Figure 5) while dry-bulb outdoor-air temperature ranged from
55F to 67F because of the variable
secondary-loop pumping (Pump 2 in
Figure 1) depicted by straight line FE
in Figure 5.

Cooling-Load Profile
Cooling-load profile depends on
the ratio of constant load (e.g., internal heat gain from lights, equipment,
people, etc.) to variable load (e.g.,
ventilation, heat gain from building
envelope, etc.).
Cumulative relative cooling load
and time-duration factor for eight
constant- and variable-load components in New England are given in
Figure 6. The design cooling load for
the process area of a manufacturing
facility is close to 57 tons. The actual
constant-cooling-load component
was near 35 tons, or 62 percent of the
design load. The actual variable-load

component was close to 22 tons, or


38 percent of the design load.
Applied in energy analysis, Figure
6 is illustrative of relative coolingload variations when the percentage
of constant-cooling-load component
(PCCLC) changes from 0 percent to
100 percent of total cooling load.

P/S- and PLOVF-System


Electrical-Energy Usage
Chilled-water-pumping electricalenergy savings. The top graph in
Figure 7 shows potential annual
chilled-water-pumping electricalenergy savings for a P/S-loop system with variable-flow-rate control
in both loops. The electrical energy
consumed by pump motors was
assumed to vary in direct proportion to changes in motor speed by a
power of 2.5. This is lower than the
theoretical value of 3 recommended
for centrifugal pumps. These savings
will be realized when distributionsystem water flow is equal to or lower
than the allowable chiller-evaporator
low limit (Figure 5). In calculations
of annual electrical-energy use, the
pump serving the PLOVF system was
assumed to have a design flow rate

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

Calculated MCRCL = 73.6 percent


Calculated MCRCL = 49 percent
Calculated MCRCL = 30.5 percent
Calculated MCRCL = 73.6 percent

Linear (approximated MCRCL = 73.6 percent)


Linear (approximated MCRCL = 49 percent)
Linear (approximated MCRCL = 30.5 percent)
Linear (approximated MCRCL = 73.6 percent)

Primary/secondary-loop-system pumping
annual electrical-energy savings, percent

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

P/S-loop-system pumping and reset


chilled-water-temperature-control annual
electrical-energy savings, percent

equal to the design flow rate of the


P/S-loop pumps. The pump serving
the PLOVF system also was assumed
to have a design pressure head equal
to the cumulative design pressure
head of the P/S-loop pumps.
With a MCRCL of 73.6 percent
(Table 2), P/S-loop-system annual
electrical-energy savings vary from
5.8 percent (calculated PCCLC of 62
percent) to 60 percent (calculated PCCLC of 0 percent). Annual pumping
electrical-energy usage for the considered P/S and PLOVF systems will
be equalized at a PCCLC greater than
or equal to 75 percent (Figure 7).
With a MCRCL of 49 percent
(Table 2), P/S-loop-system annual
electrical-energy savings vary from
10.4 percent (PCCLC of 26 percent)
to 41 percent (PCCLC of 0 percent).
Annual pumping electrical-energy
usage for the considered P/S and
PLOVF systems will be equalized
at a PCCLC greater than or equal to
35 percent (Figure 7).
With a MCRCL of 30.5 percent
(Table 2), P/S-loop system annual
electrical-energy savings vary from
2.8 percent (PCCLC of 15 percent)
to 9.5 percent (PCCLC of 0 percent).
Annual electrical-energy usage for
the considered P/S and PLOVF systems will be equalized at a PCCLC
greater than or equal to 21.5 percent
(Figure 7).
With an MCRCL of 73.6 percent
and a PCCLC varying from 0 percent
to 40 percent, the P/S-loop system
with constant-primary-loop and
variable-secondary-loop pumping
control consumes less electrical
energy annually than the PLOVF
system. These savings are identified
in Figure 7 as the difference in Y-axis
values to the left of the intersection of
the dashed lines. The savings could
be as high as 22 percent at a PCCLC
of 0 percent.
In calculations of electrical-energy
savings, primary- and secondarypump usage was assumed to be
about 6 percent of chiller-plant annual electrical-energy consumption.
The data in the top graph of Figure

20
40
60
70
30
10
50
Percentage of constant-cooling-load component in relation to overall design cooling load, percent

Single-chiller MCRCL = 73.6 percent


Two-chillers MCRCL = 55.2 percent
Single-chiller MCRCL = 49 percent

Two-chillers MCRCL = 36.7 percent


Single-chiller MCRCL = 30.5 percent
Two-chillers MCRCL = 22.9 percent

6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0

40
60
70
50
30
20
10
Percentage of constant-cooling-load component in relation to overall design cooling load, percent

Notes:
1. Savings calculated for chiller plant operating 24 hr a day, seven days a week in Hartford,. Conn.
2. MCRCL = minimum chiller relative cooling load (Table 2), at which Bypass Control Valve 2 in the
primary-loop-only-variable-flow system (Figure 2) remains closed.
3. Single-chiller operation considered in top graph only.
4. Dashed red line in top graph indicates pumping savings over primary (constant-flow)/secondary
(variable-flow) system.
5. Dashed lines indicate savings over the primary-loop-only system.
6. Annual pumping savings in top graph compared with chiller-plant annual pumping electrical energy only.
7. In bottom graph, pumping and reset-chilled-water-temperature-control annual electrical-energy
savings compared with annual electrical energy of entire chiller plant.

FIGURE 7. Potential annual electrical-energy savings for primary/secondary-loop system with


variable flow.
7 are related to single-chiller plants.
The use of multiple chillers will increase WFTDR and reduce MCRCL.
This will reduce annual pumping
electrical-energy savings. Correc-

tion factors for two- and three-chiller


plants are given in Table 3.

Reset-chilled-water-temperature
electrical-energy savings. The P/Sloop system with variable-flow

Single-chiller plant

Two-chiller plant

Three-chiller plant

1.00

0.75

0.50

Notes:
1. Single-chiller-plant loading factor assumed to be 100 percent.
2. Multiple-chiller-plant loading factor assumed to be 75 percent.
3. Minimum allowable chiller relative cooling load increased by 10 percent.

TABLE 3. Correction factors for adjusting pumping annual energy savings to account for
multiple-chiller operations.
DECEMBER 2010

HPAC ENGINEERING

43

electrical-energy savings for pumping and reset chilled-water-temperature control expressed as a percentage of total chiller-plant annual
energy consumption are shown in the
bottom graph of Figure 7. The annual
savings of a single-chiller plant with
an MCRCL of 30.5 percent and a
PCCLC of 62 percent and a singlechiller plant with an MCRCL of 73.6
percent and a PCCLC of 0 percent
vary from 0.5 percent to 5.2 percent.
The annual savings of a two-chiller
plant with an MCRCL of 22.9 percent
and a PCCLC of 62 percent and a twochiller plant with an MCRCL of 55.2
percent and a PCCLC of 0 percent
vary from 0.4 percent to 4.1 percent.

900
800
700
600
500
400

Primary-loop-only-chilledwater-system relative flow


rate via bypass valve, percent
Primary/secondary-chilled-water-systemloop flow rate, gallons per minute

Cumulative annual electricalenergy savings. Cumulative annual

Primary-loop-only-system total water-flow rate (F1 in Figure 2)


Primary-loop-only-system distribution-piping flow (F2 in Figure 2)

55

60

70
65
75
Outdoor dry-bulb air temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

80

85

55

60

70
65
75
Outdoor dry-bulb air temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

80

85

80

85

50
40
30
20
10
0

Secondary-loop water-flow rate (F2 in Figure 1)


Primary-loop water-flow rate (F1 in Figure 1)

900
800
700
600
500
400

Hourly electrical-energy usage by


pumps in primary/secondary and primaryloop-only systems, kilowatt-hours

control also has savings associated


with reset chilled-water-temperature
control. While considering these
savings, the authors assumed, based
on manufacturer data, that approximately 2 percent of the chillers input
energy would be saved per degreeFahrenheit increase in chilled-water
temperature. The increase in chilledwater temperature also would increase secondary-loop water flow,
which, in turn, would reduce the
electrical-energy savings associated
with the secondary-loop pump employing variable-flow control. The
authors incorporated that reduction
in their calculations. The chillers
power demand was assumed to be
about 78 percent of the total plant
power demand.

Primary-loop-only-flow-rate chilledwater system, gallons per minute

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

55

60

70
65
75
Outdoor dry-bulb air temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

Primary-loop-only-system pump hourly electrical-energy usage


Primary/secondary-pump cumulative hourly electrical-energy usage

7
6
5
4
3

55

60

70
65
75
Outdoor dry-bulb air temperature, degrees Fahrenheit

80

85

FIGURE 8. Primary/secondary- and primary-loop-only-system hourly trend data.

Converting From PLOVF to P/SLoop-With-VFD-Control System


A central chilled-water system
with 2,500-ton chillers serving multiple AHUs at a New England manufacturing facility was converted from
PLOVF (similar to that shown in Figure 2) to P/S-loop operation (nearly
identical to that shown in Figure 1).
The system had a design cooling load
of approximately 930 tons and a design secondary-loop chilled-water
flow of about 1,600 gpm. About 50
percent of the cooling load was con44

HPAC ENGINEERING

DECEMBER 2010

stant (PCCLC of 50 percent). The


P/S-loop system had two dedicated
water-flow meters to separately
measure the flows in the primary and
secondary loops, as well as in the
distribution- and generation-piping
loops of the PLOVF system. To compare the hourly operational modes of
the systems, the authors selected a
two-day sample with approximately
the same dry-bulb outdoor-air temperature for both systems. The reset
chilled-water-temperature control

for the P/S system was not activated


during the two days. The outdoor
dry-bulb air temperature ranged
from 57F to 83F. The average daily
dry-bulb air temperature was close to
69F, while the cooling load ranged
from 250 tons to 450 tons. Only one
chiller was running. The high-limit
chiller-evaporator flow was 1,200
gpm (i.e., TDEMIN was 10F). The lowlevel chiller-evaporator flow was 670
gpm (i.e., TDEMAX was 17.9F). Thus,
WFTDR was 1.79.

PRIMARY/SECONDARY-LOOP VS. PRIMARY-LOOP-ONLY SYSTEMS

Low-limit chiller-evaporator flow


was set at 700 gpm during P/S-loop
operation; during PLOVF-loop operation, it was set at 770 gpm. An
attempt to lower low-limit flow
during PLOVF-loop operation was
unsuccessful because of evaporator-induced chiller shutdown on
low flow.
Total chilled-water flow via the
pump in the PLOVF system (Point
F1 in Figure 2) was relatively stable, varying from about 720 to 860
gpm (Figure 8). Meanwhile, chilledwater flow via the distributionpiping system varied from 439 to
847 gpm. Chilled-water flow via the
chillers evaporator was maintained
at its allowable low-limit magnitude
through bypass-control-valve modulation. Chilled-water flow via the
bypass control valve, which represents the difference between flow
via the pump and flow via the distribution-piping system, varied from
about 10 to 285 gpm. Flow via the
bypass valve, expressed as a percentage of total flow via the pump,
varied from about 2 percent (at
higher cooling loads) to 39 percent
(at lower cooling loads). Any time
and to any extentthe bypass valve
(2) was open, VFD speed and pump
flow remained constant, wasting
electrical energy.
Chilled-water flow in the P/S-loop
system varied from 700 to 816 gpm
(Figure 8). Flow in the secondary
loop varied from 420 to 820 gpm.
Chilled-water flow via the distribution-piping system varied independently of water flow via the chiller
evaporator pump. Chilled-water
flow via the distribution system was
reduced following the load reduction
in the cooling system. This led to
reduced electrical-energy use by
Pump 2. Chilled-water flow via the
primary-loop pump and chiller
evaporator remained relatively constant, satisfying low-limit water-flow
requirements via the evaporator.
The same 100-hp pump (design
water flow 2,400 gpm) was used for
the PLOVF system and the secondary

loop of the P/S-loop system. The primary loop of the P/S-loop system had
its own 15-hp pump (design water
flow 1,200 gpm). The long operational
hours of the PLOVF system, with
nearly constant flow via the pump
necessary to maintain low-limit flow
via the chiller evaporator, resulted
in wasted electrical-energy power
demand (kilowatts) and usage (kilowatt-hours). Secondary-loop pump
electrical-energy usage decreased
and increased following cooling-load
variations. Electrical-energy savings
for the P/S-loop system varied from
about 3 percent to 50 percent, averaging around 20 percent per day.
The authors have observed similar
electrical-energy savings following
other chiller plants conversion from
PLOVF to P/S-loop operation.

Summary
This article compared the operational modes and performance of
P/S-loop and PLOVF systems.
The operating efficiency of chilledwater systems with a primary (constant-flow)/secondary (variableflow)-loop arrangement can be
improved by applying a two-phase
optimized control strategy consisting of variable flow and temperature
control for primary-loop pumps and
variable-flow control for secondaryloop pumps.
PLOVF-with-VFD control wastes
energy when primary-loop flow is
constrained by the chiller-evaporator
low limit and chilled water is diverted
via decoupling line from the supply
pipe to the return pipe of the generation system. The magnitude of
annual energy savings (pumping
and reset chilled-water temperature)
of P/S-loop control depends on
multiple variables, such as chillerevaporator-flow turndown ratio,
minimum chiller relative cooling load,
load composition, number of chillers, etc. For New England weather
conditions, annual electrical-energy
savings could be 0.5 to 5.2 percent
for a single-chiller plant and 0.4 to 4.1
percent for a two-chiller plant.

P/S-loop-with-variable-flow control reduces chiller-plant power


demand by resetting chilled-water
temperature when flow in the distribution piping exceeds a high-limit
value for the chiller evaporator and
the system diverts water via decoupling line from the return pipe to the
supply pipe of the distribution system. This prevents or delays the addition of a chiller and associated ancillary equipment and saves energy.
Compared with PLOVF systems,
P/S-loop systems with variable flow
also have the advantage of moreaccurate, flexible, and stable control
and operational conditions.

References
1) Burd, A.L. (1994). Optimizing
customers heating systems to reduce
capital and operating cost in district
heating with cogeneration. Proceedings of International District Heating and Cooling Association Annual
Conference, pp. 237-252.
2) Burd, A.L. (1993). Computer
design of terminal heating substations for district heating. ASHRAE
Transactions, 99 (2), 245-265.
3) Burd, A.L., Burd, G.S., & De
Maio, M. (2005, March). Smith &
Wesson: The story of a chilled-water
retrofit (part 1). HPAC Engineering,
pp. 38-47.
4) Burd, A.L., Burd, G.S., & De
Maio, M. (2005, July). Smith &
Wesson: The story of a chilled-water
retrofit (part 2). HPAC Engineering,
pp. 24-37.
5) Burd, A.L. (1997). Deferred
heat supply for space heating using
a capacity-limiting device A beneficial approach for district heating.
ASHRAE Transactions, 103 (2), 23-31.
6) Burd, A.L., & Burd, G.S. (1996).
Optimal cycle for plate heat exchanger
cleaning in customer substation.
Proceedings of International District
Energy Association Annual Conference, pp. 177-192.
Did you find this article useful? Send
comments and suggestions to Scott
Arnold at scott.arnold@penton.com.
DECEMBER 2010

HPAC ENGINEERING

45