How Do I Add Free Cooling To My Process?
Free cooling is a method of using the ambient air to cool a process, rather than mechanical refrigeration. It dramatically reduces energy consumption, carbon impact and operating costs. Payback can be in as little as 6-18 months and annual energy savings can be over 80%.
There are two ways of adding free cooling to your process. You can choose a chiller that has free cooling built into it (integrated free cooling) or add a stand-alone free cooler to a standard chiller.
So, which option is best? That very much depends on the application and the site, but here’s a few things to consider that will help with the decision.
Is space on your side?
A system incorporating a chiller alongside a separate free cooler can be a great option if you have the advantage of space. As a guide, a free cooler needs to be around 50% bigger than the chiller so the equipment itself requires a bigger overall footprint. Conversely, a chiller with an in-built free cooling coil takes up much less space as everything is packaged within the one unit. For many clients, especially those where space is a challenge – and/or very costly – a free cooling chiller is often a sound choice.
Installation work vs plug & play?
Adding a free cooler to your system will involve installation work and resulting costs. You’ll need to allow for civil works, for example constructing a base for the cooler to sit on, which is normally constructed from concrete or fabricated metal. Electrical and mechanical works will be required and, if the cooler is going on the roof of a building, you’ll need to assess structural viability and potentially allow for additional support beams.
It’s much simpler to replace an existing chiller with a free cooling chiller. It’s a case of disconnecting the outgoing unit and connecting the new chiller. This type of installation is more akin to plug and play design and, therefore, less costly.
Performance & Maintenance
From a service & maintenance point of view, you have more components to look after with a chiller & stand- alone free cooler, so cost will be a little higher. That said, a free cooler does add redundancy to your system. In the unlikely event that the chiller develops a fault, the free cooler will enable production to continue, bridging the gap whilst an Engineer is arranged.
When it comes to performance, again things aren’t straightforward. If space allows, you can select any size free cooler to work alongside your chiller, so you could choose the biggest unit feasible. This will enable you to have a larger free cooling coil, which technically will allow free cooling to be achieved at higher temperatures than with an integrated free cooling chiller.
In addition, Aqua are the only UK based process cooling company to offer optimised free cooling. Our units can achieve free cooling within 3°C of ambient, compared to the industry standard of 10°C+.
Free site survey, energy analysis & technical advice
If you’re interested in exploring free cooling further, talk to the team A free site survey and energy analysis will help you decide which is the best way to add free cooling to your existing process system.