Generally, my work at a plant starts not because someone calls to improve the refrigeration and chiller systems’ energy efficiency but because of an over-arching issue, e.g., system capacity not being met; inability to maintain temperatures; system failures, etc. Irrespective of the issues and problems in the refrigeration and chiller systems, methodology starts with a systems-approach-based data collection and an energy assessment.
So what does fluid management mean? The best explanation and analogy I can give you is our own body. We go for a physical exam periodically. We give blood and urine samples, which are sent to labs for analysis. Then at the doctor’s visit, we get our vitals monitored. The doctor combines the information from the lab reports and the vitals to provide a health assessment complete with potential issues and improvements to make for a long and healthy life.
This process is identical to what happens in our refrigeration and chiller systems. The fluids that circulate through the system — refrigerant, oil, water, brine, glycol, etc. —should be managed; they reveal information about the system’s performance and reliability. Understanding the sample test results of these fluids can provide a wealth of valuable information for a root-cause analysis. Combining this information with operating data from the system provides the cause-effect relationship, which often gets overlooked.