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Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Applied Energy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apenergy

Diagnosis of the low temperature difference syndrome in the chilled water system
of a super high-rise building: A case study
Dian-ce Gao, Shengwei Wang , Yongjun Sun, Fu Xiao
Department of Building Services Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 3 November 2011
Received in revised form 7 March 2012
Accepted 29 March 2012
Available online 22 May 2012
Keywords:
Chilled water system
Low delta-T syndrome
Decit ow
Fault diagnosis

a b s t r a c t
The low delta-T syndrome exists in many large primarysecondary chilled water systems, which results
in the degradation of the system overall energy performance. This paper presents a method and a case
study on diagnosing the low delta-T problem resulted from the decit ow that frequently occurred in
the chilled water system of a super high-rise building at its early operation stage. The history operation
data during the days when decit ow and low delta-T syndrome occurred are analyzed. The improper
set-point of outlet water temperature on the secondary side of heat exchangers is nally diagnosed as the
fault that resulted in the decit ow and low delta-T syndrome. Diagnosis of this fault was also validated
in the in situ experimental tests. The decit ow could be eliminated if temperature set-point was reset
higher. Compared with the original set-point of outlet water temperature on the secondary side of heat
exchangers, 87.67 kW (72.37%) of the total power of pumps on primary and secondary sides of heat
exchangers could be saved in the test cases when higher set-points were used.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Over the last two decades, primarysecondary chilled water
systems have been widely employed to offer comfortable indoor
environment in commercial buildings, especially in large buildings,
due to its higher energy efciency than the traditional constant
ow system [1]. Many researchers in HVAC&R eld have devoted
considerable efforts on increasing the operation and energy performances of chilled water systems [25]. While in real applications,
most of the primarysecondary systems, from time to time, cannot
work as efcient as expected because of the excess secondary ow
demand, which causes decit ow problem (i.e., the required ow
rate of secondary loop exceeds that of the primary loop). When the
decit ow problem exists, the temperature difference produced
by the terminal units will be much lower than its design values,
which is known as the low delta-T syndrome [69]. Kirsner [6]
pointed out that the low delta-T chilled water plant syndrome exists in almost all large distributed chilled water systems.
A series of operational problems might be caused by the decit
ow problem and low delta-T syndrome in practical applications,
such as the high supply water temperature, the over-supplied
chilled water, and the increased energy consumption of the
secondary pumps. When the decit ow occurs that means
the secondary water ow rates exceeds that of the primary loop,

Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 27665858; fax: +852 27746146.


E-mail address: beswwang@polyu.edu.hk (S. Wang).
0306-2619/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2012.03.057

the additional return water from terminal units ows back to the
supply chilled water through the bypass line, leading to the higher
supply water temperature supplied to the terminal air-handling
units (AHUs). The supply chilled water with increased temperature
consequently leads to an increased chilled water ow rate that further worsens the decit ow, which consumes more energy of secondary pumps. If the supply chilled water temperature continues
increasing to an extremely high value, the indoor temperature cannot be maintained at a comfortable level.
Existing studies [1012] demonstrated a lot of potential causes
for the decit ow problem and the low delta-T syndrome. The
causes mainly include improper set-points or poor control calibration, the use of three-way valves, improper coil and control valve
selection, no control valve interlock, and uncontrolled process load,
reduced coil effectiveness, outdoor air economizers and 100% outdoor air systems, and so on.
Measures to handle the low delta-T syndrome also have been
proposed to enhance the energy performance of chilled water systems [1317]. Among the studies, Fiorino [14] indicated that a
higher delta-T can be achieved by proper application of cooling
coils, controls systems, distribution pumps, and piping systems.
Up to 25 practical methods were recommended to achieve high
chilled water delta-T ranging from component selection criteria
to congurations of distribution systems. Wang et al. [16] presented an approach that experimentally validates the feasibility
of using a check valve in the chilled water bypass line to solve
the low delta-T syndrome. Results showed that about 9.2% of total
energy consumption of the chillers and secondary water pumps is

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

for chillers are 5.5 C and 10.5 C respectively. Each chiller is


associated with a constant speed primary chilled water pump.
The primary loop is decoupled with the secondary loop through
the bypass line.
The secondary chilled water is divided into four zones, in which
Zone 2 is supplied with the chilled water from chillers directly. The
heat exchangers are employed to transfer cooling energy from
chillers to occupied zones in Zones 1, 3, and 4 to avoid chilled
water pipelines and terminal units from suffering extremely high
static pressure. Zone 1 is supplied with chilled water through heat
exchangers (HX-06) on the sixth oor and Zones 3 and 4 are supplied with chilled water through the rst stage heat exchangers
(HX-42) on the 42nd oor. Some of the chilled water after HX-42
is delivered to terminal units in Zone 3 directly and the other is
delivered to the second stage heat exchangers (HX-78) on the
78th oor, which serves as the cooling source for Zone 4. The
pumping congurations after HX-42 and HX-78 are sub primary
secondary chilled water system, which employs primary constant
speeds pumps (PCHWP-42-01 to 07 and PCHWP-78-01 to 03) to
deliver chilled water from the heat exchangers (HX-42) to the secondary variable speed pumps that deliver the chilled water to the
terminal units. All the secondary pumps are equipped with variable speed drivers and all the primary pumps are constant speed
pumps. The major specications of all chilled water pumps at design condition are summarized in Table 1.
This central chilled water plant frequently suffered from the
decit ow problem and low chilled water temperature difference
disease after its rst use since the middle of 2008. A ow meter is
installed in the bypass line, which can measure the ow rate and
direction of water ow in the bypass line. The reading of the ow
meter is negative when the water ows from the return side to the
supply side in the bypass line (i.e., decit ow in the bypass line).
The reading of the ow meter is positive when water ows from
the supply side to the return side in the bypass line. Fig. 2 presents

saved in the test case when compared with the case when no check
valve used.
The above studies demonstrate that low delta-T syndrome and
decit ow problem widely exist in the primarysecondary chilled
water system and the elimination of these problems can improve
the energy performance of the chilled water system. For practical
applications, it is essential to nd the causes before fully correcting them. However, the detailed study for detection and diagnosis
of the low delta-T syndrome and decit ow problem, particularly
in real applications, is still insufcient. This paper presents a case
study that diagnoses the low deltas-T syndrome based on operation data. The associated experiment validation is provided as
well. This paper offers some useful experiences for engineers
and operators to nd causes of the low delta T syndrome effectively and enhance the energy performance of chilled water
systems. In this study, the history operation data were analyzed
and experiments were designed and conducted to diagnose and
determine the causes for low delta-T syndrome in a complex
central chilled water system of a super high-rise building in Hong
Kong.

2. System descriptions and operation problems


The central chilled water plant concerned in this study is a complex primarysecondary system in a super high-rise building in
Hong Kong [18]. The building is about 490 m high with approximately 321,000 m2 oor areas, consisting of a basement of four
oors, a block building of six oors and a tower building of 98
oors. As shown in Fig. 1, this central chilled water plant implements six identical constant speed centrifugal chillers to provide
cooling energy for building. The rated cooling capacity and compressor power of each chiller are 7230 kW and 1270 kW respectively. The design chilled water supply and return temperatures

(S-B)

FROM ZONE 4 FLOORS (79-98)


TO ZONE 4 FLOORSS (79-98)

Secondary water circuit for Zone 2

Secondary water circuit for Zone


3 and Zone 4

D
E

Primary water circuit

FROM PODIUM & BASEMENT


TO PODIUM & BASEMENT

Secondary water circuit for Zone 1

SCHWP-78-01 to 03

FROM ZONE 3 FLOORS (43-77)

Chiller circuit

PCHWP-78-01

PCHWP-78-02

PCHWP-78-03

HX-78

HX-78

HX-78

SCHWP-06-09 to 11
SCHWP-42-04 to 06

B
HX-06

TO ZONE 3 FLOORS (43-77)

(S-B)

A
B

(S-B)

(S-B)

598

SCHWP-42-01 to 03

FROM OFFICCE FLOORS(7-41)

HX-06

TO OFFICE FLOORS(7-41)

(S-B)

PCHWP-42-01

HX-42

PCHWP-42-02

HX-42

PCHWP-42-03

PCHWP-42-04

HX-42

HX-42

PCHWP-42-05

HX-42

PCHWP-42-06

PCHWP-42-07

HX-42

HX-42

SCHWP-06-06 to 08

SCHWP-06-01 to 02

(S-B)

(S-B)

SCHWP-06-03 to 05

D
BYPASS LINE

PCHWP-06-01

PCHWP-06-02

PCHWP-06-03

PCHWP-06-04

PCHWP-06-05

PCHWP-06-06

EVAPORAROR

EVAPORATOR

EVAPORATOR

EVAPORATOR

EVAPORATOR

WCC-06a-01
(2040 Ton)

WCC-06a-02
(2040 Ton)

WCC-06a-03
(2040 Ton)

WCC-06a-04
(2040 Ton)

WCC-06a-05
(2040 Ton)

WCC-06a-06
(2040 Ton)

CONDENSER

CONDENSER

CONDENSER

CONDENSER

CONDENSER

CONDENSER

Fig. 1. Schematic of the chilled water system.

EVAPORATOR

599

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606


Table 1
Specications of chilled pumps of HVAC system.
Pumps
Primary water pump
PCHWP-06-01 to 06
Secondary pumps for Zone 1
SCHWP-06-01 to 02
SCHWP-06-09 to 11
Secondary pump for Zone 2
SCHWP-06-03 to 05
Pumps for Zones 3 and 4
SCHWP-06-06 to 08
PCHWP-42-01 to 07
SCHWP-42-01 to 03
SCHWP-42-04 to 06
PCHWP-78-01 to 03
SCHWP-78-01 to 03

Flow (l/s)

Head (kPa)

Power (kW)

Remarks

345

310

126

Constant speed

1(1)
2(1)

345
155

241
391

101
76.9

Variable speed
Variable speed

2(1)

345

406

163

Variable speed

2(1)
7
2(1)
2(1)
3
2(1)

345
149
294
227
151
227

297
255
358
257
202
384

122
44.7
120
69.1
36.1
102

Variable speed
Constant speed
Variable speed
Variable speed
Constant speed
Variable speed

Value in parentheses indicates number of stand by pumps.

300

200

100

-100

-200

-300

-400

-500
-600

Water flow rate in the bypass line


Temperature difference

16

24

32

40

48

56

64

72

80

88

96

104

112

System temperature difference(

Water flow rate(L/S)

Numbera

1
0
120

Sampling time(hour)
Fig. 2. Measured water ow rate in the by-pass line and temperature difference in secondary system in ve summer days.

the measured water ow rate in the bypass line and the measured
chilled water temperature difference of the main supply and return
pipes (i.e., namely the system temperature difference) in ve consecutive summer days respectively. It is obvious that the average
system temperature difference during the 5 days was very low,
only about 3.5 K. It is also noted the decit ow existed in nearly
half of the period and the average duration was about 12 h a day.
When the decit ow occurred, the system delta-T became much
lower, which indicates that the decit ow and the low delta-T
syndrome in this system seemed to be highly correlated. Since
the cooling coils are selected to produce a temperature rise at full
load that is equal to the temperature difference selected for the
chillers (i.e., 5 K in this case), the ow rate of secondary loop
should be therefore equal to that of the primary loop under full
load condition and should be less than that of primary loop under
part load condition. However, when the decit ow problem exists,
the excessive water ow rate of secondary loop will greatly reduce
the temperature difference produced by the terminal units, which
is known as low delta-T syndrome. Therefore, the low delta-T syndrome existing in this chilled water system was mainly due to the
occurrence of the decit ow problem. In order to raise the system
chilled water temperature difference, it is necessary to nd the exact faults that caused the decit ow problem, solve the low deltaT syndrome, and accordingly enhance the energy performance of
the overall chilled water system.

3. Outline of the diagnosis methodology


As mentioned in Section 1, there are a lot of faults that can result in the decit ow and the low delta-T syndrome. The chilled
water system under study is new-built and was properly designed,
installed and well commissioned. The following faults were excluded according to the analysis and site investigations, such as
coil fouling, improper sensor calibration, the use of three-way
valves and the improper selection of components. Therefore, possible faults considered nally are within the category of control
faults.
A practical diagnosis process is developed in this study to diagnose the decit ow problem and low delta-T syndrome resulted
from improper controls in this complex chilled water system,
which mainly includes faults detection and diagnosis, and validation of the FDD results as well as evaluation of the energy impacts,
as shown in Fig. 3. For detecting faults, the water ow rate in the
bypass line and the temperature difference of the entire system
are selected as the indicators to detect whether the low delta-T
syndrome existed in the chilled water system. If the water ow
rate in the bypass line is negative and the measured temperature
difference of the main supply and return pipes are much lower
than the predened threshold (i.e., 3 K in this study), the chilled
water system can be determined to suffer from decit ow problem and low delta-T syndrome.

600

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

phenomenon is triggered as soon as the faults are introduced and


is eliminated when faults are released, the previous faults detection/identication results will be nally validated and conrmed.
Meanwhile, the energy impacts caused by the faults are also evaluated by comparing the energy consumption of the system with
decit ow to that without decit ow in the experiments.

Start

Water flow rate


in the bypass line 0?
And
Differential temperature
of the whole system
threshold?
Faults detection

4. Results and discussion

Yes

An advanced building management system (BMS) is installed in


this building and the operation data of the chilled water system are
collected and stored in the database. The database consists of the
main operation data of the HVAC system, such as temperatures,
ow rates, air and water pressures at some key points as well as
energy consumptions of chillers, pumps, cooling towers, and AHUs.
The history operation data are essential to analyze the operation
performance of the chilled water system.
The decit ow problem and the low delta-T syndrome have
been detected in this system under study mentioned earlier, as
shown in Fig. 2. In the following sections, the fault location and
identication by using the proposed FDD method are presented.
Validation of the FDD method and evaluation of the energy impacts
are also addressed.

Determine faults location


Validate the
detection/identification results
by experiments
History operation data analysis
Evaluation of energy impacts by
faults
The relationship between the deficit
flow and the set-point for controlling
the secondary pumps
Solutions and suggestions

Identify the specific faults

validation of
detection/identification results &
evaluation of the energy impacts

Faults identification

Fig. 3. Schematic of the diagnosis process.

4.1. Faults identication by analyzing operation data


Faults identication scheme is implemented to identify the exact faults that cause the decit ow problem. As there are several
sub-systems in a complex chilled water system, the fault location
will be rstly determined by comparing the temperature difference
of different sub-systems. Then, the history operation data will be
analyzed to observe whether the set-point used for controlling secondary pumps speed can be achieved when the decit ow occurred. If the occurrence of the decit ow is closely correlated
to the set-point for controlling secondary pumps speed, it can be
preliminarily considered that the decit ow problem is mainly resulted from the improper set-point. At last, selected relative operation parameters will be analyzed to identify the faults according
to the control strategy used in the system, such as valve openings,
pumps frequency, pumps sequence, and heat exchangers sequence.
An experimental validation scheme is employed to further
validate and conrm the fault detection/identication results.
Using this scheme, the specic faults identied preliminarily will
be introduced in the chilled water system. If the decit ow

Since the temperature difference is a key indicator to evaluate


the operation performance of a chilled water system, temperature
difference of each sub-system was analyzed rstly through history
operation data to nd at which sub-system the faults located. Fig. 4
shows the temperature difference of each sub-system in ve summer days (i.e., the same period as mentioned in Fig. 2) when the
system suffered from low delta-T syndrome. It can be observed
that only temperature difference of the riser serving Zone 2 maintained over 4 K most of time, which is normally accepted in most of
systems. The temperature differences of the risers serving Zones 1,
3, and 4 were much lower. Particularly, during the occurrence of
the decit ow, the temperature differences of these two risers
were only about 1 K. It indicates that the low delta-T syndrome
was very serious in these two zones. Comparing the temperature
differences of the three risers, it was found that the low delta-T
syndrome was mainly contributed by the riser serving Zone 1
and the riser serving Zones 3 and 4. Because the pump congurations and the pump control strategies in the two risers are very

7
Temperature difference of Zone 1
Temperature difference of Zone 2
Temperature difference of Zone 3&4

Temperature difference (K)

6
5
4
3
2
1
0

16

24

32

40

48

56

64

72

80

88

96

104

Sampling time(hour)
Fig. 4. Temperature difference of individual risers in ve summer days.

112

120

601

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

the bypass line changed from the positive ow to decit ow,


the measured Tout,ahx accordingly varied from below its set-point
to above its set-point. Therefore, a preliminary conclusion can be
drawn that the decit ow might be easily triggered when Tout,ahx
cannot be maintained at its set-point, and the decit ow will be
eliminated when Tout,ahx can be maintained at its set-point. Another
fact shown in Figs. 5 and 6 is that the operating numbers of heat
exchangers and pumps before heat exchangers were signicantly
increased when the decit ow occurred. The more decit ow occurred, the more heat exchangers and pumps before heat exchangers were activated.
The above phenomenon observed can be interpreted according
to the control strategies for pumps and heat exchangers currently
used in this system, as shown in Fig. 7. The variable speed pumps
before heat exchangers distribute the chilled water from the chillers to the heat exchangers. The pump speed is controlled to maintain the measured differential pressure between the main supply
pipe and return water pipe before the heat exchanger group at
its set-point. A temperature controller is used to keep the outlet
temperature (Tout,ahx) after heat exchangers at its set-point by modulating the openings of the valves before heat exchangers. In the
control strategy, the differential pressure set-point is constant,
while the temperature set-point after heat exchanger has a xed
temperature difference (e.g., 0.8 K) above the chiller supply water

400
200

Water flow rate in the bypass line

0
-200
-400
17:00

18:00

18:00

17:00

18:00

16:00

17:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

1:00

10
9.5
9
8.5
8
7.5
7
6.5
6
5.5
5

Operating number

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Frequency (Hz)

60
50
40
30
20
10
0

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

1:00

The set-point of outlet temperature after HX-42


The measured outlet water temperature after HX-42

0:00

Active number of HX-42

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

0:00

Active number of secondary pumps before HX-42

1:00

Frequency of Pump(SCHWP-6-06) before HX-42

Time(hour)
Fig. 5. The operation data in the typical day when decit ow existed during daytime.

18:00

17:00

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

0:00

Frequency of pump(SCHWP-6-07) before Hx-42

2:00

Temperature (C)

0:00

-600

1:00

Water flow rate (L/S)

similar, Zones 3 and 4 is selected as the example to be analyzed


and diagnosed in the followings.
In order to further determine the exact faults of the controls
that cause the decit ow problem in Zones 3 and 4, the history
operation data of two typical summer days were selected for comparison and analysis, in which 1 day experienced signicant decit
ow problem during daytime and the other day experienced significant decit ow during night. Fig. 5 shows the operation data of
the day when signicant decit ow occurred during daytime,
including water ow rate in the bypass line, the operating number
of heat exchangers and pumps before heat exchangers (i.e., on the
primary side of heat exchangers), the outlet water temperature
(Tout,ahx) after heat exchangers (i.e., on the secondary side of heat
exchangers), and the set-point of the outlet water temperature
after heat exchangers. It is obvious that the decit ow began to
occur at about 4:00am and lasted nearly the entire daytime. While
in another summer day as shown in Fig. 6, the decit ow only occurred during the night and disappeared during the daytime. An
interesting fact is that the set-point of Tout,ahx was closely
correlated to the occurrence of decit ow. When the decit ow
existed, the measured Tout,ahx was signicantly larger than the
set-point of Tout,ahx. In contrast, when there was no decit ow,
the measured Tout,ahx basically was not higher than the set-point
of Tout,ahx. It is worthy noticing that when the water ow rate of

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

200
100
0
-100
-200
-300

Water flow rate in the bypass line

18:00

17:00

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

1:00

-400
0:00

Water flow rate (L/S)

602

Temperature(C)

10
The set-point of outlet water temperature after HX-42

The measured outlet water temperature after HX-42

8
7

18:00

17:00

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

Active number of HX-42


Active number of secondary pumps before HX-42

3
2
1

17:00

18:00

17:00

18:00

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

1:00

50
Frequency of pump(SCHWP-6-07)before HX-42

40
30
20

16:00

15:00

14:00

13:00

12:00

11:00

10:00

9:00

8:00

7:00

6:00

5:00

4:00

3:00

2:00

1:00

10

0:00

Frequency (Hz)

1:00

0:00

Operating number

0:00

Time(hour)
Fig. 6. Operation data in the typical day when decit ow occurred during night.

Fig. 7. Speed control for pumps before HX serving Zones 3 and 4.

temperature that varies based on the outdoor dry-bulb temperature, as shown in Fig. 8. When Tout,ahx is larger than its set-point,
the modulating valves before heat exchangers will widely open
to demand more chilled water before heat exchangers. Moreover,

according to the sequence control strategy used in this case, if


one of the valves reach its maximum position and Tout,ahx still cannot reach its set-point, the additional heat exchanger will be
switched on to enhance the heat transfer effect. As the heat

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

Temperature
set-point ( C)

Outlet temperature after heat exchangers

603

heat exchangers that cannot be reached led to the decit ow


problem and the low delta-T syndrome in the system investigated.
4.2. Validation of FDD method and evaluation of energy impacts

9.3

Chiller supply temperature

8.5

6.3
5.5

15

34

Ambient dry-bulb
temperature ( C)

Fig. 8. The original scheme for determining the set-point of outlet water after heat
exchangers.

exchangers are connected in parallel, more operating heat


exchangers and more widely opened valves will signicantly decrease the overall water resistance at the primary side of heat
exchangers. When the overall water ow resistance was reduced,
the pumps speed before heat exchangers would be continually increased to maintain the measured differential pressure across of
the heat exchangers at its set-point until the set-point was reached
or the pumps reach their full speeds. The over-speeded pumps distributed more chilled water than necessary, which caused the deficit ow in the bypass line and in turn led to the low delta-T
syndrome. These analyses are based on Figs. 5 and 6, which can
be summarized in Fig. 9.
Based on the above analysis, the preliminary conclusion can be
drawn that the too low outlet water temperature set-point after

Outlet water temperature set-point after


heat exchangers (too low to be reached)

Valve opening before


heat exchangers=100%

Increase active
heat exchanger number

Reduce water resistance of


primary side of heat exchangers

More chilled water is required


to maintain the differential
pressure set-point

Pump speed before heat


exchangers is highly increased

Deficit flow

Low delta-T syndrome


Fig. 9. Flow chart for low delta-T syndrome diagnosis.

In order to validate the FDD method in above analysis, two repeated eld tests were conducted to verify the cause of the decit
ow in the bypass line by varying the set-point of the outlet water
temperature (Tout,ahx) after heat exchangers in two separate days.
The results of the two tests show the consistent conclusions and
the results presented as follows came from the latest test in the autumn of 2010. In this test, the set-point of Tout,ahx was rstly changed from 8.2 C (while no decit ow occurred) to 6.8 C, and 6 C
respectively. Then, the set-point was increased back to 7.4 C and
8.2 C respectively. During the whole test period, the chiller supply
water temperature was xed at 5.5 C, and the operating number
of chillers as well as the primary water ow rate remained
unchanged.
Fig. 10a and b shows the water ow rates in the bypass line,
Tout,ahx and its set-point. It can be observed that the decit ow
did not occur and Tout,ahx basically can be maintained at its setpoint before 11:10am. When the set-point of Tout,ahx was reduced
to 6.8 C, and 6 C respectively, the water ow rate of the bypass
line dropped rapidly from about 170 l/s to negative (25 l/s),
which means the decit ow occurred. Meanwhile, Tout,ahx experienced a gradual dropping process but could not be low enough to
reach its set-point. On the other hand, when the set-point of Tout,ahx
was increased again to 7.4 C and 8.2 C respectively, the decit
ow was eliminated and Tout,ahx also returned to be controlled
approximately at its set-point. The test results indicate that the
decit ow would most likely occur when the set-point of Tout,ahx
is too low to be reached. The decit ow can be eliminated when
the correct control of Tout,ahx is resumed, which conrms the preliminary conclusion in Section 4.1.
It is also worthy pointing out in Fig. 10a and b that the actual
measured outlet water temperature after heat exchangers was
not signicantly decreased and basically maintained stable at
about 7.2 C although the set-point of Tout,ahx changed from 6.8 C
to 6 C. The reason is that the inlet water temperature on the primary side of heat exchangers was signicantly increased because
of the decit ow. The more supplied chilled water with higher
temperature failed to improve the overall cooling effect of the heat
exchangers when the decit ow occurred.
Fig. 10c and d presents the openings of modulating valves before heat exchangers and the operating number of heat exchangers
during the test period. It can be observed that the openings of modulating valves were closely related to Tout,ahx and its set-point. Once
the set-point of Tout,ahx was lower than Tout,ahx, the modulating
valves opened rapidly. When one of the modulating valves fully
opened, additional heat exchangers were switched on by the control logic used in this case. When the set-point increased from 6 C
to 7.4 C and further to 8.2 C respectively, the modulating valves
closed down until reaching the minimum position and the operating number of heat exchangers also was reduced from four to two
eventually. The valve openings and the operating number of heat
exchangers greatly affected the controlled speed of pumps at the
primary side of heat exchangers, as shown in Fig. 10e. It can be
found that the speed (frequency) of the pumps before heat
exchangers signicantly increased when either the valves were
widely opened or extra heat exchangers were switched on. On
the other hand, when both the valve openings and operating number of heat exchangers were reduced, the speed of pumps before
heat exchangers dropped again. Both wider valve openings and
more operating heat exchangers mean a lower overall water resistance of the heat exchanger group at primary side. Therefore, the
pump speed had to be increased to transfer more water to meet

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

200
150
100
50
0
-50
-100
10:50

8.5
8
7.5
7
6.5
6
5.5
5
10:50
120

Frequency (Hz)

Water flow rate in the bypass line

M1

(a)
M2

11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

12:30

12:50

13:10

The measured outlet water temperature after HX-42


The set-point of outlet water temperature after HX-42

(b)
11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

Valve opening before HX-42-01


Valve opening before HX-42-03

12:30

12:50

13:10

Valve opening before HX-42-02


Valve opening before HX-42-04

100

Operating number

Percent valve opening(%)

Temperature(C)

Water flow rate(L/S)

604

80

(c)

60
40
20
0
10:50

11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

12:30

12:50

13:10

5
4
3

(d)

Number of active HX
Number of active pumps before HX

2
1
0
10:50
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
10:50

11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

12:30

12:50

13:10

(e)
Frequency of secondary pumps before HX-42

11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

12:31

12:51

13:11

Sampling time(hour)
Fig. 10. The operation data during the test period.

the predetermined pressure differential set-point. It is worth noticing that the variation of overall water resistance of heat exchanger
group was more sensitive to the operating number of heat
exchangers compared with the valve openings. As indicated in
Fig. 10a, water ow variation (i.e., DM2) in the bypass line resulted
from valve openings was far less than that (i.e., DM1) resulted from
changing heat exchanger operating number.
Fig. 11 depicts the dynamic power of pumps on both sides of
heat exchangers during the test period. Clearly, the total energy
of the pumps signicantly increased when the set-point of Tout,ahx
was greatly reduced and decit ow occurred. Compared to that
without test, 87.67 kW (72.37%) of average power of all pumps
on both sides of heat exchangers was wasted during the test. It is
also found that the power of the three pump groups associated
with heat exchangers varied in different ways when the set-point
of Tout,ahx decreased. The secondary pumps before heat exchangers
and the primary pumps after heat exchangers consumed more energy while the secondary pumps after heat exchangers consumed
less energy. But the energy wasted by the rst two was far larger
than that saved by the third. The results demonstrated that a too
low set-point of Tout,ahx badly degraded the energy performance

of the chilled water system although the building cooling load still
can be satised.
The above test results conrmed the conclusion of the analysis
in Section 4.1. It demonstrated that the decit ow and the low
delta-T syndrome in the chilled water system under study were
mainly resulted from the improperly low set-point of the outlet
water temperature after heat exchangers.
4.3. Discussion and suggestions
The in situ operations and experiments have demonstrated that
it is not robust and is unreliable to reset the set-point of outlet
water temperature after heat exchangers (Tout,ahx) using a xed
temperature difference above the chiller supply water temperature,
particularly when the temperature difference is relatively small. It
is because that the inlet water temperature before heat exchangers
is not always equal to the chiller supply water temperature due to
the decit ow problem in practical applications. Once the inlet
water temperature before heat exchangers is higher than the chiller
supply water temperature, the actual temperature difference between the inlet water temperature before heat exchangers and

605

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

300

Power of secondary pumps after HX-42


Power of secondary pumps before HX-42

Power of pumps(kW)

250

Power of primary pumps after HX-42


Total power of pumps on both sides of HX-42

200

150

100

50

0
10:50

11:10

11:30

11:50

12:10

12:29

12:50

13:10

Sampling time(hour)
Fig. 11. Power of pumps on both sides of heat exchangers.

the set-point of Tout,ahx will be reduced. When such phenomenon


occurs, more chilled water before heat exchangers will be provided
by the control, which makes the decit ow worse. Particularly in
the summer days when the cooling is relatively high, Tout,ahx is more
easily affected by some uncertainties and disturbances, such as sudden cooling load increasing or temporarily high inlet water temperature before heat exchangers. This also interprets the reason why
the decit ow more easily occurred in summer season than in
the spring season, as observed through eld investigations and history operation data.
Simulation tests on the system under study were conducted to
study the impact of the temperature set-point of chilled water after
heat exchangers on the operation and energy performances of
pumps. Fig. 12 shows the test results under a xed cooling load
(i.e., 60% of design cooling load of Zone 3) when the chiller supply
water temperature was xed at 5.5 C. It can be observed that the
total power of pumps associated with heat exchangers gradually
increased while the set-point of Tout,ahx increased from 6.3 C to
8 C. When the set-point of Tout,ahx reduced below 6.2 C, the power
of pumps increased dramatically and all the pumps at primary side
were at maximum speed. The reason is that the decit ow occurred when the set-point of Tout,ahx was below 6.2 C, which could
not be reached under this working condition. The results indicates
that the set-point of Tout,ahx (around 6.3 C in this study) currently
used sometimes is at risk of causing decit ow although it is the
design value under the design working condition and is thought to

Power of pumps (kW)

400

100
Total power of pumps
Power of secondary pumps before HX
Power of secondary pumps after HX
Power of primary pumps after HX
Flow rate of bypass line

350
300
250

0
-100

200

-200

150

-300

100
-400

50

T max P T set;out;ahx maxT ch;sup 1:2; T meas;in;bhx 0:8

where Tch,sup is the chiller supply water temperature, Tmeas,in,bhx is


the measured inlet water temperature before heat exchangers.
The proposed scheme for resetting Tset,out,ahx adopts double security.
One is to ensure that Tset,out,ahx is 0.8 K higher than the actual inlet
water temperature before heat exchangers at least. This ensures
the outlet water temperature after heat exchangers be reached easily because 0.8 K is temperature difference used for selecting heat
exchangers at design stage. The other insurance is that the temperature difference between Tch,sup and Tset,out,ahx is increased from 0.8 K
to 1.2 K. This is because that the use of a higher Tset,out,ahx results in
less probability of decit ow while the overall pump energy consumption is not increased obviously. The revised set-point resetting
scheme provides better chance for the system to resume itself to
healthy mode (surplus ow in bypass line) when possible. A high
limit (Tmax) is set for the set-point of Tout,ahx to guarantee the temperature of chilled water supplied to clients within the guaranteed
range and proper for humidity control in occupied zones. It is noted
that the actual coefcients in Eq. (1) are only suitable for the studied chilled water plant and different values may be needed for other
plants.

8.0

7.8

7.6

7.4

7.2

7.0

6.8

6.6

6.4

6.2

5. Conclusion
6.0

Flow rate of bypass line (L/S)

200

450

be safe in principle. Therefore, a higher temperature difference


above chiller supply water temperature (Tch,sup) is recommended
for resetting the set-point of Tout,ahx in this system to ensure the
system to be maintained at healthy operation condition. It
also can be found in Fig. 12 that proper increase of the set-point
of Tout,ahx had minor effect on the total pump power. Compared
with the total pump power (207.8 kW) using the current set-point
at 6.3 C (i.e., 0.8 K of temperature difference above Tch,sup), the increase was about 0.86 kW only (0.5% of the total pumps energy)
when the system worked under the set-point of Tout,ahx at 6.7 C
(i.e., 1.2 K of temperature difference above Tch,sup). Obviously, a
higher set-point of Tout,ahx can allow the operation and control
more robust and reliable while the total power of pumps is almost
unchanged. The reset scheme for set-point of outlet water temperature after heat exchangers (Tset,out,ahx) is therefore proposed for the
studied chilled water system as expressed by the following
equation.

-500

Set-point of outlet water temperature after HX (C)


Fig. 12. Power of pumps and ow rate of bypass line under different set-point of
Tout,ahx under a xed cooling load.

This paper presented a method and a case study to diagnose the


low delta-T syndrome and decit ow problem in a real chilled
water system of a super high-rise building. The improper set-point
reset of the outlet water temperature at the secondary sides of heat

606

D.-c. Gao et al. / Applied Energy 98 (2012) 597606

exchangers was found to be the actual fault that caused the decit
ow problem in the system. The analysis results show that a too
low set-point of outlet water temperature at the secondary side
of heat exchangers would lead to more pumps to be activated with
higher speed on the primary side of heat exchangers, which easily
caused decit ow. Decit ow could be eliminated when this setpoint was reset reasonably higher.
Results of an in situ test conrmed the fault detection/identication results. In the meanwhile, a proper set-point of outlet water
temperature on the secondary side of heat exchangers achieved an
average power saving of 87.67 kW (72.37%) of pumps on primary
and secondary sides of heat exchangers.
It is also suggested to set the temperature difference between
the set-point of outlet water temperature and the supply chilled
water temperature at sufciently high level in real applications.
Acknowledgements
The research presented in this paper is nancially supported by
a Grant (PolyU5308/08E) of the Research Grant Council (RGC) of the
Hong Kong SAR, a Grant of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The work is supported by Sun Hung Kai Real Properties Limited.
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