Well-attended Auxilary Session at IIAR Phoenix Conference Explored Energy Efficiencies

Energy efficiency was the focus of a well-attended and extensive auxiliary educational program at the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration annual conference, held in March in Phoenix.

Sponsored by CIMCO Refrigeration, the event brought together engineers to discuss a wide variety of topics related to the design, maintenance, operation and retrofitting of refrigeration systems to make them run more efficiently. Eric Smith, IIAR vice president and technical director, said these topics are critically important to IIAR membership, and the industry as a whole.

“The program was put together because energy efficiency is incredibly important to our end users,” Smith said. “Not only from the aspect of saving money but also for environmental purposes.”

Approximately 150 people attended the session. This is impressive because it was an auxiliary program to the regular conference sessions, held on the Sunday before the conference officially kicked off. Attendees spent their Sunday and had to pay a bit extra to participate in these sessions, which Smith said is a clear indicator of the topic’s importance to the industry.

The overall message at the session was that as technologies improve, there are myriad ways energy can be conserved, Smith said. No single solution is a panacea, but by analyzing and understanding the many different elements of systems while prioritizing efficiency – even if gains are incremental – can make a tremendous difference.

“There are many disparate aspects of control, design and maintenance that affect energy efficiency,” Smith said. “The more they are discussed, the more people realize that small changes here and there can have large impacts one way or the other.”

“We wanted to put this panel together to help bring awareness, education and understanding of the most important methods of design and control that impact energy efficiency,” Smith said. “We tried to pick subject matter for the Sunday program that people would like to get a more in-depth understanding of, beyond the typical 45- or 50- minute presentations that occur through the rest of the conference. This is a fourhour program; that permits us to dive a bit deeper on the various topics.”

Panel members included Doug Scott, president of VaCom Technologies; Josh Bachman, director of customer engagement at Cascade Energy; and Joseph Pillis director of engineering at Johnson Controls.

Scott’s presentation offered an overview of energy management in industrial ammonia refrigeration systems. He discussed the importance of returnon-investment when modeling energy efficiencies in a system, current trends in electric utilities including renewables, how to best manage energy programs, and how operators should be continuously improving their systems.

Bachman discussed reducing system lift, optimizing part load, how to estimate energy savings, and how to use this information in building a meaningful energy program designed to increase efficiency using real-world examples.

Pillis took a deep dive into the energy benefits of using screw compressors. Attendees learned the basics of how these systems work in the context of increasing efficiencies as well as more technical aspects including the impacts of volume ratios, part-load operations, economizers and side loads. They also learned about how the types of oil used affects operations.

These presentations were followed up by a discussion session in which attendees were invited to ask questions of the panelists to better understand the materials presented, Smith said. Interested attendees were directed to additional informational resources.

Smith said he believes that high-level, high-quality educational programs such as this session and others like it, coupled with an environment in which discussion and conversation are encouraged, will be of tremendous benefit to the industry. He said he hoped attendees will apply the lessons they learned at the Phoenix session.