A Photo Trip to a Cooling Plant

Yesterday one of my classes had a field trip. We went to the chilled water plant which is where most of the cooling on campus comes from.

You might remember my last trip to a plant, 23 months ago to Charter Street at the UW.

If I heard correctly, they're running a refrigeration cycle which cools the water that circulates around the campus at this plant. It was pretty noisy. The horizontal blue cylinders are evaporators that have 5k tubes each. This is where the refrigerant boils, taking heat with it. The gray control thing in front is taller than I am.

This is a circulating pump in the basement. There were three or four of these. The gray box is the motor. They pump the cooled water out to campus. The pipe in the background it feeds into has a diameter of 54".

Here's some random pipe stuff in the basement.

The most noticeable thing, at least compared to having been in Charter St., is that this place was recently built and it was very neat and tidy inside.

Here are some more pumps in the basement. I think these feed water to the cooling towers.

Here's a cooling tower. Water is pumped to the top, then it drips down and water evaporates. The remaining water then has the temperature of the dew point, so it doesn't work as well in the summer when on humid days the DP can be up in the 80's. Air is drawn through in the opposite direction. The inlet are the grills on the sides.

About refrigeration, the refrigerant cools the water circulating to campus and on the other side of the cycle, it rejects the heat to water that circulates through the cooling tower. The plant man said that this place has a capacity of 19,000 tons of refrigeration. That's about 67 MW. In total the university has about 30,000 tons capacity. Your house air conditioner has a capacity of about 3 tons. Takes a lot to cool campus buildings. Also this plant is electric.

Here we are on top of one. Through the air outlets of the neighboring tower the separate heating plant to the north can be seen. The plant guy said it only takes two mechanics to keep this place going.

Here's the fan. It blows air out the top.

In the distance it's the stadium to the southeast. Here's an aerial view of the plant.