If motor-driven vapor compression chillers are much more energy efficient than absorption chillers, then why are we even having this conversation? In a hunt for LEED® points or in applications with certain demands, absorption could be just the ticket to sustainability and/or economy.
Does the idea of using steam, hot water, or direct-fired burners to generate chilled water sound like an oxymoron? Well, absorption chillers use these thermal energy sources to produce chilled water. Beyond the type of thermal energy source, absorption chillers are also classified by whether they are single- or double-effect. The goal of this article is to provide the reader with a basic description of absorption chillers and their advantages, specific applications, performance standards, and energy efficiency, plus how they can be used to gain LEED® certification points.