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Adiabatic drives change

Automotive components maker Calsonic Kansei has achieved five-figure savings thanks to adiabatic cooling technology and with the replacement of an inefficient cooling system at its factory.

The replacement of two ageing cooling towers at car component specialist Calsonic Kansei with an adiabatic cooling plant is realising savings in the region of £35,000 a year.

The new plant, a Eurochiller Adcooler unit, is also saving hundreds of thousands of litres of water annually, reports the installer, process cooling specialist IsoCool.

Calsonic Kansei Corporation is a global manufacturer of innovative components, which are supplied to a number of the world’s leading automotive firms.

Calsonic has 62 operations in 16 countries and is committed to lean manufacturing, environmental management and the promotion of zero-emission plants, along with the elimination of waste through its production processes.

It is this ethos that led Calsonic Kansei to review an increasingly inefficient cooling system at its Sunderland factory.

Here, two cooling towers were being used to supply machine cooling to 12 injection moulding machines weighing from 220 tonnes to 2,200 tonnes, in a section of the factory that produces interior parts for several models of a large carmaker.

Although both cooling towers had served the plant well for many years, their advanced age had given rise to the loss thousands of litres of water a day in bleed-off.

As a result, Steve Norton, senior engineer at the plant in Sunderland, issued a tender for a cooling system that would improve both water efficiency and energy efficiency.

The existing plant required an annual spend of around £12,000 a year on water treatment and salt for water softening, and a further £10,000 a year on water make-up, to counteract evaporation and bleed off.

Energy costs for the existing cooling system totalled in the region of £13,000 a year.

“Our specification was for a high-quality, proven solution that would ideally consist of one piece of equipment at a suitable budget,” says Mr Norton.

“To judge submitted tenders fairly, I use a score sheet that marks each supplier on a number of factors such as product quality, cost and service. IsoCool’s solution was the only one to fit the spec perfectly.”

The proposed solution involved replacing the cooling towers with a closed-circuit adiabatic Adcooler, a unit which is manufactured by cooling OEM Eurochiller, of which IsoCool is sole UK distributor.

The Adcooler is a water-saving, contamination-free, and energy-efficient alternative to cooling towers and adiabatic spray systems, claims IsoCool.

The system works by drawing ambient air through variable speed fans, and using a small quantity of saturated water to remove heat from the air through evaporation.

No process water is consumed and water losses are negligible, the specialist notes. In addition, limescale formation is reduced significantly and chemical treatment minimised. With no aerosol formation, air contamination is eliminated completely, thus avoiding health and safety issues such as legionella.

Risk management

The Adcooler is able to achieve water temperatures of at least 3 deg C below dry bulb ambient for this particular application – the closest to a cooling tower design without the inherent water treatment regime, water loss, and health and safety risks associated with evaporative towers, IsoCool claims.

In addition, the system is designed intelligently to switch automatically between dry and wet bulb operation according to ambient temperature and humidity. In this installation, the Adcooler adiabatic circuit only operates when dry bulb ambient exceeds 20.4 deg C. Below this temperature, the unit delivers up to 100 per cent direct air cooling.

Before the unit was installed, IsoCool prepared a running cost analysis of the existing cooling tower system compared with the Adcooler.

IsoCool estimated that the Adcooler would operate on free cooling for 97 per cent of the year, with the adiabatic circuit running for only 220 hours out of 8,064.

Electricity costs were thus forecast to be almost half that of the existing system, generating a saving of more than £6,000 a year on energy.

In addition, the adiabatic system was forecast to save £30,000 a year in water make-up costs.

Total savings would therefore be approximately £40,000 a year for Calsonic Kansei, with the Adcooler operating at 20 per cent of the running costs of the previous cooling towers. 

IsoCool’s new system was installed in August 2014 during a planned shutdown, with the whole process taking less than a week.

“We saw an immediate effect on water thanks to the installed flow meter,” says Mr Norton. “Before, we were losing thousands of litres a day from evaporation and water loss, but that changed overnight – now water loss is barely anything at all.

Of course, we no longer have to buy salt either, and the new solution is saving considerable sums on water treatment costs.”

The free cooling has helped the energy bills too, he adds: “We are benefiting from it whenever the ambient temperature is below 20.4 deg C, which in Sunderland is most of the year round.”

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