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Problem Based Learning/ Complex Engineering Problem

Assignment Description

Commence Date: 15th DECEMBER 2017 Due Date: 4th JANUARY 2018

Course Outcomes
This assignment is established to achieve these Course Outcomes:

CO1 Describe the principles of heat transfer mechanisms, combustion, refrigeration and air
conditioning systems in its fundamental aspect with relation to existing energy systems [PO1,
LO1, SS1]{C2}.
CO2 Analyse principles of energy mechanisms to solve a wide range of thermal engineering
problems [PO2, LO3, SS1]{C4}.
CO3 Develop solutions for mathematical models and propose appropriate results for thermal
engineering applications [PO3, LO3, SS1]{C6}.


The objective of this assignment is for students to conduct probabilistic design calculations of an air
conditioning system covering the relevant topics in thermal engineering.

Problem Statement

The air-conditioning system of a building, shown in Figure 1, is designed based on the district cooling
approach. A central chiller system using a single compressor generates chilled water to be circulated
throughout the building. The chilled water is supplied to Air Handling Units (AHU) that is located at
every level of the building. A heat exchanger in each AHU facilitates the cooling of air that is
discharged back to individual rooms or spaces. Due to the large thermal load from the building, the
chiller operation is assisted by a cooling tower that uses water to remove the heat rapidly from the
chiller condenser.

A. Thermal Load Analysis

Consider an academic building with three lecture halls. The maximum capacity of each hall is 200
occupants. In each hall, there are 40 units of 10W lamps being used continuously due to poor natural
lighting. There is also an LCD projector in each hall that is normally used for lecture.
Each hall has 10 glass windows with an area of 0.5 m2 per window. The reflectivity of the tinted
windows are 20% and the absorptivity is negligible. The solar irradiation on the building walls are
assumed constant at 700 W/m2 in the morning and 1200 W/m2 at noon. Other external thermal loads
are assumed negligible.

1. Provide an in-depth explanation of internal and external thermal loads for buildings (CO1).
2. Compute and graphically compare the combined thermal load variations for these cases
CASE I: 50% and 100% attendance for morning classes with 100% lighting used,
CASE II: 50% and 100% attendance for noon classes with 100% lighting used,
CASE III: 100% attendance at noon with 50% and 0% lighting used.

3. Analyze and discuss the contribution (in %) of each heat sources, with respect to the period
the classes are being held. In the studied cases, what is the major contributor for the thermal
loads? (CO1)

4. List THREE practical engineering measures that can be applied to reduce the thermal load
of the lecture halls? (CO1)
5. For the highest case of thermal load in Section A, plot the air temperature profile exiting the
lecture halls if the initial room air temperature is 24oC and the total air flow rates from all the
halls varies at 5,000 to 20,000 liters per minute. (CO2)

Air flow

Cooling Tower
Cooling water

2 1

3 Coolant
2 circulation

Chiller Cycle


4 1
1 2
Chilled Water
AHU Heat Exchanger

1 2

Room air
cycle Lecture Hall Lecture Hall Lecture Hall

Figure 1. The schematic of the district cooling air-conditioning system

B. Air Handling Unit (AHU)

Chilled water produced from the chiller system is supplied to the AHU at 6oC to absorb the thermal
load from the lecture halls. From Figure 11-26 in the text book (MEC551 Thermal Engineering), select
TWO possible heat exchangers to be used in the AHU.

1. If the chilled water supply (CWS) is fixed at 100 liters per minute, compare the profile on the
variations of the chilled water return (CWR) and exit air temperatures of both heat
exchangers when the air flow rate is constant at 1000 liters per minute and the inlet air
temperature to the heat exchanger varies between 20oC to 30oC. The maximum limit of the
NTU for all selected heat exchangers is 3. (CO3)
2. Discuss the effect of heat exchanger types to the exit air temperature that is to be returned to
the lecture halls. (CO1)
3. For the better heat exchanger in the case above, if the CWS temperature increases by 1oC,
what is the temperature change to the exit air temperature? (CO2)

C. Chiller System

The chiller system functions to produce chilled water at 2oC. Cooling water at an inlet temperature of
26oC enters the condenser to assist the heat rejection process from the chiller system.
1. Select 2 working refrigerants for the system (other than R134a) and explain the reasons of
selection based on safety and thermal properties. (CO1)
2. If the refrigerant exits the evaporator as saturated vapor, select the suitable operating
pressures for the chiller. Explain the reasons for the selected pressures. Then, compare the
COP of the chiller system for both coolants assuming a compressor efficiency of 90%. (CO2)
3. Compare the estimated cost for running the chiller system for a 30 days, 24 hour operation
schedule using the two different coolants (based only on the compressor work input –
assume the coolants flow at 700 liters per hour) under steady conditions. Apply the
Malaysian daylight electrical tariff for the cost calculations. (CO3)
a. Refer to any coolant manufacturer website, such as CoolPack or even ASHRAE, for the list of
potential coolants and its properties.

D. Wet Cooling Tower

The wet cooling tower supplies cooling water to the condenser of the chiller system at a rate of 200
liters/min. The cooling water absorbs the thermal load from the condenser and returns to the cooling
tower at 34oC. Air enters the cooling tower at 1 atm and 28oC and leaves saturated at 34oC.

1. Plot the variations in cooling water supply temperature to the condenser and the heat
absorption rate at the condenser when the relative humidity of the inlet air varies from 50%
to 100%RH. Assume the air flow rate is constant at 60 liters per minute. (CO2)

2. Explain the reasons why cooling towers are a necessary sub-system in district cooling air-
conditioning systems. (CO1)

Report (technical writing)

Your team (max 4 members) must prepare a technical written report that is presented as according
to the course outcome for each part.

Part Question Course Outcome Marks

1 CO1 5%
2 CO2 15%
A 3 CO1 5%
4 CO1 5%
5 CO2 10%
1 CO3 15%
B 2 CO1 5%
3 CO2 5%
1 CO1 5%
C 2 CO2 10%
3 CO3 5%
1 CO2 10%
2 CO1 5%

The report must be submitted by 4.00pm on the 4th of January 2018. Please refer to the report
rubrics in the attachment.


Scale 1 2 3 4 5
Total Marks
Criteria Poor Acceptable Excellent
 The principles and
 The principles and  The principles and fundamentals are well
fundamentals are poorly fundamentals are describe and are
correlated with the moderately describe correlated with the
problem given. and are correlated with problem given.
[CO1,  Making many errors in the problem given.  All relevant heat transfer
PO1] applications of heat  Make some but tolerable and thermodynamics
transfer and errors in applications of principles and concepts
thermodynamics heat transfer and are accurately and
principles and concepts. thermodynamics comprehensively
 principles and concepts. demonstrated and
 Correct and complete
 Correct interpretation of
interpretation of all
 Contain certain erroneous all results but lack
elements in insightfulness. Insightful,
 Draw Insightful,
interpretations, supported and
thoughtful, supported and
discussion, and conclusion comprehensive
[CO2, comprehensive
of the thermal discussions or conclusions 30%
PO3] discussions or conclusions
engineering. of the thermal
of the thermal
 Only a very general engineering.
discussion is made.  Have some useful
 Use and technically sound

 Substantially define the  The mathematical and
 Errors in integrating
mathematical model and problems statement are
mathematical solutions
[CO3, its problem statement well correlated
and problem statement. 10%
PO3]  Fairly define the solution  Has given a comprehensive
 No solution propose for
of given problem solution for the given
the given problem
statement problem

40450 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Tel. : 03-5543 6268 Fax: 03-5543 5160

Report Assessment

Assignment’s Title : ________________________________________________________

Groups’ Name : ________________________________________________________

Leader’s Name : ________________________________________________________

Member’s Name : 1) _______________________________________________________

2) _______________________________________________________

3) _______________________________________________________

Scale 1 2 3 4 5
Level Poor Acceptable Excellent

Part Question Course Maximum Marks Given Marks

1 CO1 5%
2 CO2 15%
A 3 CO1 5%
4 CO1 5%
5 CO2 10%
1 CO3 15%
B 2 CO1 5%
3 CO2 5%
1 CO1 5%
C 2 CO2 10%
3 CO3 5%
1 CO2 10%
2 CO1 5%
TOTAL 100%



CO1 30%
CO2 50%
CO3 20%
TOTAL 100%