What is a Chiller and How does It Work?

What is a Chiller?

A chiller refers to a cooling system that cools materials down by removing heat from a liquid via a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. The liquid gets circulated through a heat exchanger to cool equipment. In a chiller system, there is always a liquid working as a refrigerant going through the heat exchanger in order to transfer the heat energy. When the heat gets absorbed by the liquid, materials get chilled.


What are the Main Components of a Chiller?

A complete chiller is basically composed of the following components: a condenser, a compressor, an evaporator, an expansion valve, a power unit, water boxes and a control unit. The condenser can remove heat from the refrigerant, including air and water cooled condensers. The compressor is the most important component in a chiller system, which can ensure the movement of the refrigerant throughout the system. The evaporator can collect heat from the structure and send it to the cooling tower. The expansion valve can expand the refrigerant to increase its volume, thus allowing the refrigerant to absorb heat in the evaporator. The power unit controls the electricity supply to the chiller. The water boxes usually directs the flow and separates the entrance from the exit. The control unit can observe and manage the performance of a chiller. The above components all play an important role in a good operation of a chiller.

What are the Types of a Chiller?

There are three major types of chillers in use based on the condenser type, which are air-cooled chillers, water-cooled chillers and evaporative condensed chillers.

As their name suggests, the air-cooled chillers use air to remove heat in the condenser by using fans to force air across the exposed tubes of the condenser, while the water-cooled chillers use water to remove heat by using pumps to send water through a sealed condenser. The latter is generally more energy-efficient than air-cooled chillers. The evaporative condensed chillers can condense a substance from its gas state to its liquid state by cooling it. Then the heat is released by the substance and transferred to the surrounding environment. It is usually considered as an alternative device to air or water cooled chillers.

How does a Chiller Work?

As there are various kinds of chillers, they have the same working principle. A chiller system is about transferring and taking in the heating energy. Hence, the transformation of heating energy is the basic working principle of a chiller system. In the working process of a chiller system, the heating energy get transferred from a kind of material or any other thing to a middle solvent or substance. In the process of transferring heating energy, the pointed materials’ heating energy get absorbed and turned into a cold situation, which is the destination of a chiller system.


What is the Difference between a Chiller and an Air Conditioner?

Both chillers and air conditioners are cooling machines. Their working principles are basically same, extracting heat from materials through refrigeration and evaporation. But there are still some differences between them as well. Something detailed is as follows.

1. Different Cooling Ranges.

Chillers can lower the temperature of liquids in the range of 7 to -1 degree celcius, while fridges can be used for cooling the objects as well but to the temperature range of 3 to 5 degree celcius.

2. Different Cooling Materials and Application Fields.

Chillers are usually used to lower the temperature of liquids and cool chemical substances and materials, which are widely adopted in industrial, chemical, biological fields and other fields. However, fridges are more often used to preserve food and make it stay fresh, highly using at home. It may be the main difference between them.

3. Different Sizes

They have different sizes. Due to the various application fields, lab chillers usually have a smaller size than household refrigerators, while industrial chillers is more large-scale than refrigerators.

How to Use a Chiller?

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