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International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications, Vol. 4, No. 6, December 2013 Technical and Economic Assessment of Seawater Air

Abstract—Cold seawater air-conditioning is a process in which seawater from the deep ocean is pumped to a heat exchanger to process the cooling load of large buildings. The use of cold seawater air conditioning is most competitive in tropical islands, where air conditioning demands are high and the physical distance to cold seawater is at a minimum. This study was therefore initiated to assess the technical and economical aspect of using deep seawater to meet the air conditioning load for hotels located near the sea, having a cooling load of around 1000 tons A/C which is equivalent to 3.5 GW.

Three cooling system options were chosen for study namely the Vapor compression chiller system (Option 1), Direct Seawater Air Conditioning (Option 2) and Seawater Air Conditioning using Chiller (Option 3). The conventional vapor compression system was used as a baseline to compare the other options that use cold seawater. The direct cold seawater air conditioning system consisted of a large seawater pipeline and pump to deliver cold seawater to a large heat exchanger that transfers heat directly with the building’s chilled water system. The third option was similar to the second one; however, it consisted of a reversible chiller to further cool the fresh water.

The technical assessment of the three options consisted of the power consumption of each system to meet the hotel cooling load. Power consumption was found to be 3500 kW, 470 kW and 1870 kW for the three options respectively. The carbon dioxide gas emissions that would be avoided were found to be 13 ton and 7 ton per day by implementing option 2 and 3 respectively compared to option 1. The economic assessment showed that option 2 had a payback period of 6.5 years while the investments costs on option 3 would be recovered in 4 years.

Index Terms—Air condition, cooling, sea water. I. INTRODUCTION

Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC) is an alternate- energy system that uses the cold water from the deep ocean or from deep lake to cool buildings instead of using existing type of systems. The SWAC enables a significant reduction in power consumption and it can be very cost-effective and attractive investment. It is a potential form of energy used for air conditioning.

The seawater air conditioning consists of two main loops. The first one consist of cold seawater is drawn from the ocean by centrifugal pumps and then fed in heat exchangers. The cold seawater cool, down the other medium which is water and itself gets heated up. After cooling the water, the warmed seawater is discharged to ocean. The second loop consists of a system which carries cooling water for building

Manuscript received July 12, 2013; revised September 16, 2013.

The authors are with the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius (email:,


Conditioning in Hotels Dinesh Surroop and Abba Abhishekanand






DOI: 10.7763/IJCEA.2013.V4.330




Conventional Air Conditioner





The most common form of meeting a large building air- conditioning demand is by using a vapor compression air conditioning plant. A simplified schematic of a vapor- compression air conditioning system that is used to meet the air-conditioning load of a large hotel is shown in Fig. 2.

A compressor is used to compress and raise the pressure of a working fluid (refrigerant), in a gaseous state. This compressed refrigerant gas is then condensed in the condenser by releasing heat to the surrounding, or by using condenser water, circulated through a cooling tower (Qcond). The condensed gas is then throttled in an expansion valve, after which the throttled liquid is evaporated in the

1 Seawater Intake

2 Cold Seawater

3 Titanium Heat Exchanger 4 Warmed Sea Water Outlet 5 Cooled Fresh Water

6 Cooling Coil

7 Warmed Fresh water

8 Warm Air

9 Air Circulation Fan

10 Cool Air


Fig. 1. Seawater air conditioning

In the heat exchanger, this water is chilled as its heat is transferred to the seawater. The chilled water is then circulated throughout the building by a pump. Cool air is delivered to each floor by an air circulation fan that moves the warm building air through a cooling coil that is part of the cooling water loop. Fig. 1 shows a typical setup of SWAC.

This study was therefore initiated to investigate the potential of energy saving by using seawater air conditioning. The goal was to reduce the amount of energy consumption by implementing less power consuming systems.

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