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How Does an Industrial Chiller Work?

Industrial chillers serve as a refrigeration system that cools a process fluid or dehumidified air.  A chiller uses either a vapor compression or absorption cycle to cool, which then produces chilled water. This chilled water has a variety of applicable uses for both commercial and industrial facilities. To understand the process of how a chiller works, it’s important to know what the main components are. Listed below is a brief overview of the specific functions these components are designed to perform.


  1. The Compressor is responsible for two functions in the refrigerant cycle.  First, it removes the refrigerant vapor from the evaporator and reduces the pressure in the evaporator to a level where the desired evaporating temperature can be maintained.  Second, the compressor raises the temperature of the cooling medium available for condensing in the refrigerant vapor.
  2. The Condenser is a heat exchanger where heat is given off by the high temperature high pressure vapor, and this temperature then falls until the vapor condenses to a liquid.
  3. The Expansion Valve gauges the flow of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator.  The flow of liquid must be at the proper rate to cool the process water.  If more cooling is required, additional refrigerant is also gauged through the valve.
  4. The Evaporator cools the process fluid by absorbing the heat that evaporates as the liquid refrigerant boils.


The chiller process starts with high pressure vapor which must be brought to a saturated condition to begin the condensation.  This occurs at the condenser outlet.  Once the refrigerant is in the liquid state, and at a high pressure and temperature, it must then undergo one more change before it becomes a useful heat transfer medium. This is accomplished by reducing the pressure, which the expansion valve is responsible for.  The final portion of the refrigerant’s journey is as a combination of saturated liquid and vapor that travels through the evaporator.  The remaining saturated liquid boils off at the evaporator outlet, and because this outlet is connected to the compressor inlet, the vapor at the inlet is also saturated.  The circulation of the refrigerant continues until the refrigerated space temperature is achieved.


Large industrial chillers are commonly located in mechanical equipment rooms, and are positioned close to the process they are cooling. If you’re in need of an industrial chiller for your business, the experts at Technical Hot and Cold can design and position a system that is tailored to your facility. Contact Technical Hot and Cold today!


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