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Absorption Chillers viability in the UAE

Background Traditionally Absorption Chillers have not been popular in the Gulf region. Lately, Designers have shown interest in considering Absorption Chillers as al alternative, which seems to be have been triggered due to a few factors such as shortage of electric power supply, delays in getting electric power supply, rising awareness about Green Building concept. Client engineer, Design consultants have often requested for a comparative analysis between Absorption and Vapour Compression Chiller technologies and viability study for Absorption Chillers for the Gulf region. Absorption Chillers can be broadly categorized in two types, Single Effect (or Single Stage) and Double Effect (or two stage). Single effect chillers are powered by either low pressure steam or hot water, which is generated using waste heat and hence can be used as a very effective heat recovery system. The double effect chillers are powered either by direct fired burners that use fuels (such as Natural Gas and Oil) or High Pressure Steam (generated using Boilers). Due to following engineering reasons, Absorption Chillers may not find a good application in the UAE.

1. Primary Energy Source (Double Effect) : There is no extensive supply grid of Steam or
Natural Gas in the UAE, yet. 2. Waste Heat Source (Single Effect) : There are not many industries in UAE wherein a lot of steam is used which can be made available as waste steam or hot water. This form of energy could be used as prime energy for Single Effect Absorption. 3. Cost of Energy : Natural Gas wherever available (such as Sharjah) at $0.33/m3 ($9.25/MBTU), which is very expensive compared to the subsidized electricity tariff of $0.054/kW-hr ($16.22/MBTU) or better. Full load COP of the Double effect Absorption Cycle and Compression Cycle are generally 0.9 & 5, which result into a full load consumption of $0.11/Ton-hr and $0.029/Ton-hr respectively. As such, it can be concluded that Gas driven direct-fired absorption is not a viable alternative fuel at these tariffs. These chillers may become viable only when the tariff drops to less than $0.07/m3. Please refer to the attached calculation spreadsheet. 4. Cost of Water : Absorption chillers, due to their poor COP dump a lot of heat into the condenser water, which results into a much higher requirement of heat rejection (almost . Since the heat rejection is attained by evaporative cooling, the rate of water evaporation is directly proportional to the heat to be rejected. As a result, the makeup water is almost double that of a Centrif chiller. In light of the fact that water is so expensive ($0.01/impGal) the cost of water would be very significantly higher than Compression Cycle. 5. High Head Application : Due to the hot and humid weather of the region and hence the higher design wet bulb temperature used in the region, the chillers are subject to higher cooling water temperature (CWT). The absorption chillers have limited ability to perform at higher CWT due to concerns over corrosion. 6. District Cooling : Most district cooling applications are at Supply Chilled Water Temperature (ChWT) of lower than 5C. The Absorption chillers can be satisfactorily operated below 6C ChWT, preferably 6.5C. 7. Familiarity : Very limited availability of skilled after sales technical support. In a nutshell, Absorption have proven excellent alternative where there is plenty of waste heat available OR where the alternate source of low grade energy is available at very competitive rates,

water is amply available at competitive rates and when the operating parameters are within the tight limits.