What is an industrial water chiller?

An industrial water chiller is a crucial component that, as part of a chiller system, provides the necessary temperature conditions for a number of processes. 

Also part of efficient district cooling models, the use of water chillers has been increasingly adopted as part of many industrial projects where the need to keep low temperatures must be met with the highest possible efficiency. 

Let’s take a look at the definition of an industrial water chiller, their applications and when they’re the right choice for an industrial cooling project.

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Industrial water chiller: a definition

An industrial water chiller is a type of water cooling equipment that removes heat from a source while guaranteeing constant temperatures, pressures and currents through a refrigeration system.

Put simply, an industrial water chiller works by circulating a cooling fluid from a reservoir to the equipment that needs cooling. This represents a difference with other cooling systems, such as those based air, which use fans to disperse heat. 

The industrial water chiller has become the preferred system for a number of cooling plants and large-scale facilities, as they generate enhanced efficiencies compared to certain air-cooling systems. However, its suitability must be analyzed on a case-by-case scenario, as we’ll see below. In fact, this choice is crucial, as the right type of chiller can help companies save costs, reduce downtime, and enhance their energy efficiencies.

What are the applications of the industrial water chiller

As we’ve mentioned above, water chillers are part of cooling systems which, in turn, are responsible for removing unwanted heat from a source. There are a number of applications where this can be useful, including: 

  • Plastic manufacturing processes, including several operations part of mechanical molding

  • Metal and machine manufacturing, reducing issues like thermal deformation and improving accuracy

  • Food and beverage industry

  • Chemical and pharmaceutical manufaturing

  • Medical facilities, for operating systems such as MRIs or x-ray machines

  • As part of district cooling systems, an industrial water chiller is used to supply chilled water to multiple buildings or facilities through a network of pipes

  • Industrial water chillers also present important applications as part of modern data centers, where they help cooling IT equipment in order to guarantee it operates within safe temperature ranges. 



How does an industrial water chiller work

An industrial water chiller works through a series of essential components, which include compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. These work to circulate a refrigerant, which is in charge of removing heat from a space or an operation. 

The process goes as follows: 

  1. The compressor acts by compressing refrigerant gas (such as R-410A or R-134a), which in turn increases its pressure and temperature.

  2. The high-pressure, high-temperature refrigerant gas then flows to the condenser, where it releases heat and condenses into a high-pressure liquid.

  3. Now turned into high-pressure liquid refrigerant, it flows through the expansion valve in order to reduce its pressure and temperature.

  4. The resulting substance flows to the evaporator, where it absorbs heat from the water that needs to be cooled. This heat transfer occurs as the water passes through a heat exchanger that is in contact with the evaporator coils.

  5. As chilled water, it’s circulated back to the application (space or process) that requires cooling.

  6. The low-pressure, low-temperature refrigerant gas then returns to the compressor. The cycle is ready to be repeated as needed.

Industrial water chiller vs. air-cooled water chillers

Today, industrial cooling applications face the choice of picking an industrial water chiller vs- air-cooled water chillers. 

As opposed to water-cooled chillers, chiller systems based on air use ambient air to cool the hot refrigerant gas through a system that relies on a condenser and fans.

There are many benefits of opting for an industrial water chiller, namely their increased energy efficiency and smaller size, as well as their tendency to have a larger life cycle and be extremely reliable. Additionally, they present robust, network-based control systems that also make them easer to customize to meet each project’s needs. 

On the other hand, a water industrial chiller is only advisable for projects where a constant and cheap water source is available. As such, the increased energy efficiency might not be a good enough reason to make the choice if the need to avoid water consumption is a priority. For instance, a recent Araner  project in Saudi Arabia showed how crucial water savings can be achieved through the use of air-cooled chillers, which offer added benefits such as more economic installation and maintenance costs. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about industrial water chiller systems and how to pick the right solution for your project.

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