Trends in Chiller Technology

Chillers have been the workhorses of building cooling systems for decades. In recent years, a renewed focus on energy efficiency has led to new and renewed trends in the chiller equipment market such as:

Magnetic Bearing Compressors

With this breakthrough technology, the compressor impeller shaft is levitated by a magnetic field. The result is a nearly frictionless bearing that requires no oil for lubrication. Coupled with a variable speed drive motor, these chillers have unrivaled part-load efficiencies and full-load efficiencies equal to traditional centrifugal chillers. Another benefit of this technology is a chiller that is quieter than most of the pumps in the mechanical room.

Modular Chillers

Modular chiller technology is not new, but is getting a fresh look by many engineers. These chillers are compact in size, can be easily upgraded in capacity by adding modules, and have good operating efficiencies. Their “fit-through-a-door” dimensions are due to the use of plate-and-frame heat exchangers. The popularity of these chillers is increasing as more owners look to replace older, less efficient, large chillers that are buried in their buildings.

Dedicated Heat Recovery Chillers (DHRC)

These chillers utilize a variety of compressor technologies and refrigerant types, however, they have all been optimized to operate at high condensing temperatures. DHRCs are a type of cogeneration machine.  As these chillers produce low temperature chilled water, they also create hot water through this high temperature condenser that can be used for reheat or domestic water heating.

For more information or questions regarding chiller technology for your facility, please contact Douglas C. Barnhart, PE at (717) 845-7654 or

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