Mixing water and electricity; finding the energy balance between boilers, chillers, and pumps in hydronic systems

Jeff Yirak presented at the 24th Annual National Conference on Building Commissioning (NCBC), held May 16-18, 2016, in Indian Wells, California. Jeff’s presentation explored the challenges and opportunities involved in finding the optimum energy efficiency balance in hydronic systems. Read the presentation abstract:

Mixing water and electricity; finding the energy balance between boilers, chillers, and pumps in hydronic systems.

When does it make sense to pump more gallons per minute rather than less? Why would an engineer design a system to operate with a lower chilled water supply temperature than a higher one? Every engineer is taught the formula Q=500*GPM*deltaT. This equation shows the relationship between the temperature and fluid flow in a hydronic system and the energy transfer available (Q). For an increase in the temperature range (deltaT), the pump flow rate (GPM) can be decreased; for an increase in pump flow rate, the temperature range can be decreased. This relationship presents a design decision to engineers; since it takes electricity to pump the hydronic system, and it takes energy to heat or cool the fluid, how should these two energy consuming activities be balanced?

This presentation willcover  techniques to save energy by weighing the dueling efficiencies between pumps, boilers, and chillers. After explaining the physics behind the fundamentals of energy transfer in a heating water or chilled water system, signs of sub-optimal hydronic systems will be identified. The reader will then be shown how to optimize these systems, as well as how to calculate the energy savings of the changes. The takeaway will be an increased ability to evaluate the energy performance in these systems, which will provide value on commissioning projects.

View a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation here.

About NCBC 2016

NCBC is organized by the Building Commissioning Association (BCA). This year’s conference theme was “Fire and Ice: Energy, Water and the Value of Whole Building Commissioning and focused on “some of the most significant resource and efficiency challenges faced by the building community today, through the experience of building owners and commissioning providers.” Learn more about the conference here.

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