According to the International Institute of Refrigeration, 15 percent of the world’s energy consumption goes toward operating refrigeration and cooling systems.
If that relatively high number surprises you, stop for a moment and think about where the world would be without cool air. It helps maintain the day-to-day quality of our indoor air. It’s also essential for industrial production and manufacturing processes, the creation and preservation of food and beverages and for preventing computers and other technological devices from overheating.
For something this essential to modern society, it’s a good idea to make sure your refrigeration and cooling systems are functioning at their best.
Improving efficiency, cost control and extending the life of the system are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits you’ll reap from a proper maintenance program. There’s much to be gained by being proactive.
Let’s consider the mechanics involved in keeping your refrigeration and cooling systems in peak operational order. A cooling system’s overall objective is to ensure that the cool air being created stays inside the machine, while staving off the warm outside air with minimal evaporation and condensing.
Proper insulation is essential to aid in this process, as is making sure all working elements are monitored closely. This includes checking door openings to decrease the possibility of leakage, ensuring fans are functioning properly and making sure refrigerant levels are suitable to keep the machine cooling at its maximum potential.
The refrigerant itself is one of the most pivotal parts of a cooling system’s design. Refrigerant is the substance – typically a fluid – that moves through each part of the system to promote cooling. The refrigerant’s function is to create and maintain a temperature and pressure relationship.
Refrigerant that transfers well throughout the system creates a high-energy efficiency. Thus, when selecting a refrigerant, it is important to keep in mind the thermodynamic properties needed to run the cooling system smoothly.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the proper refrigerant for your system.
For instance, some may be less corrosive to metals but may be higher in flammability, and depending on the system you choose, your options may include a liquid, gas or boiling refrigerant.
Unsure about which to choose? Don’t worry, such decisions might even throw famed chemist Marie Curie for a loop. It’s easiest to simply a contact a professional who can provide some guidance for this important decision.
Next up is the compressor. It is the heart of the cooling system. A compressor does exactly as its name implies – compresses the refrigerant to create a high-pressured gas.
There are three main choices when selecting the proper compressor for your cooling system: reciprocating, rotary and centrifugal.
The most commonly used compressor among commercial cooling systems is the reciprocating compressor. Also known as piston compressor, a reciprocating compressor has a service life that is 10 years longer than other compressor types and can decrease energy costs up to 20 percent. It can essentially double your savings, hence its popularity.
The condenser works in harmony with the compressor, receiving the compressor’s high-pressured gas and converting it to a liquid. As the compressor circulates the high-pressured gas, the gas moves over coils inside the condenser. With that in mind, proper maintenance of the condenser and condenser coils is of utmost importance. Keeping both free of clogs, dust and other impediments will keep the air moving freely, thus maintaining the highest efficiency.
Also, don’t forget to closely inspect all areas that have been welded, called seams, for possible leakage.
Are you getting all of this? There will be a comprehensive test at the end so keep on reading.
The component of the cooling system that performs the actual cooling is the evaporator, which absorbs heat from areas throughout the cooling system where heat should not be.
Thermostatic expansion valves control how much refrigerant is released into the evaporator, controlling safe placement of superheat.
What is superheat? Essentially, steam at 213 degrees Fahrenheit is superheated by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Superheat is, then, any temperature of a gas above the boiling point for that liquid. When a refrigerant liquid boils at a low temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a cooling coil and then the refrigerant gas increases in temperature, superheat has been added.
Thermostatic expansion valves continually divide the cooling system into low-pressure and high-pressure sides, aiding in the regulation of airflow through the system as well as the flow of the high-pressure refrigerant to the evaporator.
Once the refrigerant has been compressed and condensed and has gone through the thermostatic expansion valves to maintain pressure, it is now in a safe area to be cooled. The refrigerant goes through the final step of vaporizing. Put more simply, the heat is absorbed by the evaporator.
As you can gather, refrigeration and cooling systems are intricately designed to cool while preserving energy efficiency.
While we hope you have gathered some knowledge from this piece, we also understand that most folks may not have time to learn the finer points of reciprocating compressors and proper refrigeration maintenance.
The good new is you don’t have to. That’s our job, and we’re happy to help.
Whether it be manufacturing, installation, regular monitoring or one of our service maintenance plans, JAX Refrigeration is ready to assist. We always appreciate the opportunity to help our customers get their systems running more efficiently.