Air conditioning is essential for maintaining thermal comfort in indoor environments, particularly for hot and humid climates. Today, air conditioning, comprising cooling and dehumidification, has become a necessity in commercial and residential buildings and industrial processes. It accounts for a major share of the energy consumption of a building or facility. In tropical climates, the energy consumed by heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) can exceed 50% of the total energy consumption of a building. This significant figure is primarily due to the heavy duty placed on cooling technologies to remove both sensible and latent heat loads. Therefore, there is tremendous potential to improve the overall efficiency of the air-conditioning systems in buildings. Based on today’s practical technology for cooling, the major components of a chiller plant are (1) compressors, (2) cooling towers, (3) pumps (chilled and cooling water) and (4) fans in air handling units. They all consume mainly electricity to operate. When specifying the kW/R ton of a plant, there are two levels of monitoring cooling efficiency: (1) at the efficiency of the chiller machines or the compressors which consume a major amount of electricity; and (2) at the overall efficiency of cooling plants which include the cooling towers, pumps for moving coolant (chilled and cooling water) to all air-handling units. Pragmatically, a holistic approach is necessary towards achieving a low energy input per cooling achieved such as 0.6 kW/R ton cooling or lower by considering all aspects of the cooling plant. In this paper, we present a review of recent innovative cooling technology and strategies that could potentially lower the kW/R ton of cooling systems – from the existing mean of 0.9 kW/R ton towards 0.6 kW/R ton or lower. The paper, broadly divided into three key sections (see Fig. 2 ), begins with a review of the recent novel devices that enhances the energy efficiency of cooling systems at the component level. This is followed by a review of innovative cooling systems designs that reduces energy use for air conditioning. Lastly, the paper presents recent developments in intelligent air-control strategies and smart chiller sequencing methodologies that reduce the primary energy utilization for cooling. The energy efficient cooling technology, innovative systems designs, and intelligent control strategies described in the paper have been recently researched or are on-going studies. Several have been implemented on a larger scale and, therefore, are examples of practical solutions that can be readily applied to suit specific needs.
Applied Energy – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2013
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