No industrial process, machine or motor is 100% efficient and heat is the most common by-product of these inefficiencies. If this heat is not removed, it can build up over time, leading to shorter production times, equipment downtime and even premature equipment failure. It is necessary to incorporate cooling into industrial process system design to avoid these problems.
There are multiple benefits to using chillers to provide cooling. Chillers provide consistent temperatures and pressures for your industrial processes. Eliminating temperature and pressure variables simplifies process development and optimisation, ensuring the highest quality product. Chillers recirculate cooling water rather than wasteful single-pass systems. Recirculation minimises water consumption costs, which can be expensive and environmentally unfriendly.
In most process cooling applications, a pump system circulates chilled water or a water/glycol solution from the chiller to the process. This cold fluid removes heat from the process, while the hot fluid is returned to the chiller. Process water is the way in which heat is transferred from the process to the cooler.
The process cooler contains a compound called refrigerant. There are several types of refrigerant and applications depending on the temperature required, but they are all based on the basic principle of compression and phase change of the refrigerant from liquid to gas to liquid. This process of heating and cooling the refrigerant and changing it from a gas to a liquid and back again is the refrigeration cycle.
Air-Cooled Screw Chiller
The refrigeration cycle starts with a low pressure liquid/gas mixture entering the evaporator. In the evaporator, heat from the process water or water/glycol solution causes the refrigerant to boil, thus changing it from a low-pressure liquid to a low-pressure gas. The low pressure gas enters the compressor, where it is compressed into a high pressure gas. The high pressure gas enters the condenser, where ambient air or condenser water removes heat and cools it to a high pressure liquid. The high pressure liquid flows to the expansion valve, which controls the amount of liquid refrigerant entering the evaporator, thus restarting the refrigeration cycle.
There are two types of condenser used in water chillers; air cooled and water cooled. An air-cooled condenser uses ambient air to cool and condense the hot refrigerant gas into a liquid. It can be located either inside or outside the chiller, but eventually it discharges the heat from the chiller into the air. In a water-cooled condenser, water from a cooling tower cools and condenses the refrigerant. Importantly, there is a detailed explanation in the article " Different Types Of Chillers" - you can click to learn more.
Industrial chiller systems can be used for cooling operations in different industries. The following are some of the most common applications.
Industrial chillers are widely used in food production and processing operations where high precision temperature control is required. For example, winery chillers are used for temperature control during the fermentation and storage of wine. Bakery chillers contribute to mixer cooling, potable water cooling and cooling of jacketed yeast tanks, which are all key components in bakeries.
Temperature control is essential in metal finishing processes such as electroplating or chemical plating to remove excess heat, as they often require very high temperatures (several hundred degrees) to bond the metal. Some industries use metal finishing coolers to cool the anodising fluid in the heat exchanger or use glycol/water as a cooling medium to reduce the temperature in the tank.
Injection moulding is a mass production technique that uses injection moulding machines, thermoplastic pellets and moulds to manufacture plastic parts. The process and the melt must be kept within a precise temperature range to prevent problems such as cracking, warping and internal stresses in the final product.
An injection cooler can supply a stream of overcooled liquid at an ideal rate to cool the mould in order to ensure optimum product quality.
In manufacturing plants that use heavy machinery to generate a lot of heat, coolers can help prevent extreme temperatures in offices and other work spaces. They can also help save the cost of purchasing a separate HVAC system for cooling.
Chiller systems come in a wide range of sizes and designs, and can be used as small, localised or portable chillers for smaller applications, or large central chillers designed to provide cooling for the entire process.
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