How Do Chillers Work?


Quick Answer

Chillers work by circulating water through a refrigeration cycle and then piping it through a system for heat exchange inside a building or facility. There are several common types of chillers, including the vapor compression and absorption models.

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Full Answer

Chillers make use of refrigerant gas to remove heat from liquid in a central processing plant. Once the water has been refrigerated, it is circulated through a forced water system that allows it to exchange heat with the structure in question. This substitutes water for air in the traditional air conditioning setup, as this system is more feasible for larger buildings.

Cooling towers are the apparatus by which chillers disperse the waste heat they accrue during the air conditioning process. These towers exchange heat with the atmosphere unless a system to capture waste heat is in place, in which case the heat can be re-purposed toward heating parts of the building's system.

Waste heat can also be distributed in ambient fashion, in which case it simply exits the system into the surrounding environment. Absorption systems work differently and use a bromium solution in their central pump, which makes conditioning and refrigeration more efficient, but can also lead to significantly higher levels of industrial waste and runoff.

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