Adsorption Cooling on the Rise in Industry

April 21, 2015

In addition to products and goods, Germany’s manufacturing industry also produces a large amount of surplus energy. Increasing numbers of companies are studying the clever use of waste heat within their company, as they strive to operate in a more economical and environmentally friendly way.

As the cleantech company InvenSor announced at the Hanover Fair, the industry trend towards the use of adsorption cooling is continuing unabated in 2015. Demand for simple cooling solutions from the Berlin-based manufacturer has risen significantly over the last two years. There are many reasons for this.

Baking production line at Wikana Keksfabrik

On the one hand, overall cooling demands are growing in this part of the world. According to figures from the German Federal Environment Agency approximately 14% of final energy demand in the past year was accounted for by cooling technology, and this trend is increasing.

On the other hand, the energy-saving adsorbers with water as a refrigerant are perfectly suited for sustainable and low-maintenance cooling systems. Due to their long operating times per year, industrial applications have a particularly high potential for utilisation of adsorption chillers. Many installations pay off the investment within two to five years. When used in the cooling of IT infrastructure, the systems in some cases run 24/7 all year round. In addition to being very efficient, chillers are also extremely reliable and simple to operate.

Multiple industrial applications

Potential applications range from surface finishing and injection moulding to the processing of foods. Baked goods manufacturers, such as Otto Beier Waffelfabrik GmbH from Lower Bavaria and Wikana Keks und Nahrungsmittel GmbH from Lutherstadt Wittenberg (both Germany) use modern energy recovery systems to cool their temperature-sensitive goods and materials. In the case of Wikana, the driving heat required for the chillers comes from a baking line – energy which was simply dissipated into the environment in the past. Oberflächentechnik Döbeln GmbH near Dresden combines its two InvenSor adsorption chillers with two combined heat and power systems (CHP) to cool delicate galvanic baths.

The system runs year round generating electricity, heat and cooling. In trigeneration systems (CCHP or combined cooling, heat and power), the thermally driven chillers provide cooling using the waste heat from the CHPs with only a minimum of electrical energy. In the case of many of the adsorption chillers installed in Germany, customers, in an effort to modernise their facilities, replaced more energy-intensive electrical systems. If the old appliances were still in appropriate technical condition, they were retained to cover peak loads or for redundancy requirements. Many satisfied users are now planning to install the appropriate CCHP systems as part of the expansion of their operating capacities.

Switching to sustainable technology pays off from cooling capacities of 10 kW. InvenSor systems are frequently used in capacity ranges from 30 kW up to 200 kW. The power savings achieved in cooling are generally between 70 and 90%. In relation to CCHP systems, the overall energy technology and comfort in the operating areas are often considered. Many systems supply power and cooling to production facilities and server rooms, while also alternately supplying the building’s heating and air conditioning systems. Hot and cold water storage balance out seasonal deviations and improve the operating behaviour of the CHP.

In winter, the InvenSor system can operate using free cooling, so heat from the CHP is made available for heating. In the case of high use and long operating periods, the systems offer attractive payback periods.
The funding programme “Energieberatung im Mittelstand” (energy consultation for small and medium-sized businesses) makes it easier to get started with the system, enabling SMEs to claim back up to 80% of the consultation costs in relation to waste heat utilisation from the Federal Government. Additional funding programmes (Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control and various regional programmes) as well as low-interest loans from the energy-efficiency programme of the KfW development bank for energy-saving investments are also available to help with the implementation of such a system.

Simple planning and setup

Planning and setup of an InvenSor adsorption chiller are quite simple thanks to the integrated hydraulic units which are ready to use. The chillers can be easily connected in parallel in the case of larger projects. The “LTC 30 e plus” unit presented for the first time at Hanover Fair has a maximum cooling capacity of 35 kW and an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) peak value of 33, making it ideally suited for the manufacturing industry. Depending on requirements, InvenSor works very closely with planners and decision-makers in the development and implementation of projects in order to ensure optimal end results from the very beginning.

“Looking at the large number of different cooling projects throughout Germany, the vast potential of this technology becomes clear,” says Sören Paulußen, managing director of InvenSor GmbH. “The launch of the LTC 30 plus was very successful. The positive feedback and great interest from the industrial world confirmed our decision to provide an even more powerful model of our user-friendly and environmentally friendly chillers. Following the trade fair, we look forward to a wide range of new and exciting projects.”

InvenSor chillers are some of the most user-friendly and reliable systems on the market. The self-developed microcontroller allows for a wide variety of configurations and adjustments to tailor the system to respective needs of the application and the user. Settings such as the target water temperatures in the chilled water circuit and the return flow in the operating circuit can be easily adjusted on the multilingual, colour touchscreen display. The unit is even prepared for use as a heat pump, which can be activated in the settings.