Because chillers use the same basic technology as everyday air conditioners, the history of chiller technology starts with the history of air conditioning.
In the 1800's, scientists like Benjamin Franklin first began experimenting with ways to use liquid refrigerant to cooling liquids and air.
These scientists discovered the principles of heat transfer, that they could lower the temperature of air using liquids such as water.
In 1902, Willis Carrier of New England created the first self-contained mechanical air conditioning system. He discovered that heating air reduces relative humidity allowing air to absorb moisture.
Cooling the air then pulls heat and moisture from surroundings, reducing both humidity and ambient temperature in a room.
This two-phase process of quick heat and quick underlies cooling technology to this day.
After Carrier's invention, research and development in chilling technology developed to meet growing demand.
In 1931, scientists discovered that Freon had unique properties allowing it to cool much more efficiently than water or air alone. In 1938, Trane introduced the refrigerant-based systems we see in modern-day chillers: compressor, condenser, and evaporator.
This enclosed system allowed for the creation of industrial liquid chillers capable of cooling an enclosed space in a brief span of time.
In 1950, the plastics industry started using industrial chillers to help meet the demand for quality plastics. This business decision allowed plastics to take center stage as the go-to material for everything from toys to bottling.
Toward the end of the 20th century, other industries began using chiller technology to increase production and improve quality.
This would range from glass to power companies. Acting as a silent but necessary partner in the background, chiller technology helped provide the basis for the digital age by making the global electrical grid possible. Today, chillers form a necessary technology in range of key industries.
The Technologies Behind Modern Chillers
Modern liquid chillers use chemical reactions caused by liquid refrigerant moving through a repeated process of heat transfer.
Refrigerant and some combination of air or water take warmth of one medium, carries that warmth away, and then vents excess heats safely into the atmosphere.
In order to perform this cyclic function, chillers need to keep refrigerant securely sealed in pipes and mechanisms designed to withstand heat and pressure.
Special refrigerant liquids such as Freon make this process more efficient because they have boiling temperatures lower than boiling water temperature combined with freezing temperatures above freezing water temperature.
This narrow range allows for much more efficient chemical reactions leading to faster removing of heat from air or water.
Although chiller designs different in many ways, all chillers have certain key parts in common.
- Condenser:The condenser takes heated refrigerant and swiftly cools it off in order to return it to a liquid state, starting the cooling cycle. Condensers can be air cooled, water cooled or evaporation cooled.
Water cooled condenser Air cooled condenser
- Compressor:At this stage, compression adds extreme pressure to the refrigerant liquid. This step sets the stage for the refrigerant to absorb heat. The type of compressor will vary by chiller. Such as scroll compressor and screw compressor. For example, screw chillers use twin rotary screws to achieve compression. Screw compression allows for high-speed continuous use with more even flow than other motorized compression types.
Scroll compressor Screw compressor
- Evaporator: This part of the system cools liquid by taking highly-pressurized refrigerant as it cools. The chemical reaction results in extremely low temperatures which absorb heat from the liquid to be cooled. Similar as condenser ,evaporator also has water cooled and air cooled types looks like condenser.
- Refrigerant: Refrigerant varies by chiller type, with some chillers including a mix of different chemicals. Because of environmental concerns, refrigerant of all types tends to be highly regulated. A given chiller must be rated to use with a certain refrigerant type in order to minimize refrigerant leakage. Over time, chiller service can include replacing or topping off refrigerant.
Generally air condition / chiller used R22,R407C ,R410A and R134A.
- Expansion Valve: The expansion valve controls the flow of refrigerant into the system by sensing the actual and desired temperature. In industrial grade chillers, expansion valves can help create a chain reaction by adding more refrigerant as refrigerant starts to cool. As refrigerant goes through the standard chemical reactions, the valve pulls in more refrigerant to pull heat from refrigerant already released, create even more rapid cooling.
- Cooling Towers: All air conditioning requires venting of excess heat. Due to a high volume of liquid usually measured in tons, industrial chillers especially water cooled water chiller must require external cooling towers to release heat. Cooling tower has Round Counter Flow Cooling Towers and Square Cross Flow Cooling Towers, looks like below picture.
Round tower square tower
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