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Unique Air Conditioning and Refrigeration RDT&E Facility Expands Capabilities

Wavelengths: An Employee's Digest of Events and Issues (NAVSEA Carderock)

October/November 2002

By Matthew Frank, in conjunction with the NAVSEA 05/983/921 Climate Control Team

PHILADELPHIA-The capabilities of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (AC&R) Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Facility in Building 1000 were recently expanded by the addition of a second test cell. This addition is part of a longer-range plan between Code 983 and 921 to activate five test cells with the most representative Fleet equipment. This test cell will accommodate a Navy AC plant with capacity ranging between 200 to 250 tons. The 200-ton DDG 51 HFC-236fa AC plant was installed in this second test cell. The DDG 51 Class comprises the largest population of centrifugal AC plants in the Fleet.

In 2001, the first test cell was completed, along with the facility infrastructure, to support up to a total of five test cells. A 363-ton CVN HFC-236fa AC plant was installed in the first cell. The major infrastructure support systems include two 250-ton variable speed-drive cooling towers, a 200-ton auxiliary AC plant, an electrical distribution system, and water distribution piping. Further details are provided in the November 2001 Wavelengths article titled "SSES Dedicates New Lab for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Systems."

Each Test Cell is referred to as a cooling system dynamometer (CSD). The purpose of the CSD is to independently control the cooling load and condensing conditions of the AC plant to simulate a wide range of shipboard conditions. Waste heat is rejected through one of the cooling tower circuits. To simulate cold seawater conditions during the summer months, the auxiliary AC plant can be aligned to the CSD to further reduce the temperature of the heat rejection water loop.

Design of the second test cell began in October 2001. Fabrication of the piping systems started in late January 2002, while the electrical and instrumentation systems proceeded along parallel paths. Construction of the site continued through the end of May, followed by sub-system testing and final calibration of the instrumentation. The cell was instrumented to utilize the latest Labview software to monitor and record all operating data. The second test cell received Mission Readiness Panel approval on June 14, 2002, and the 200-ton DDG 51 HFC-236fa AC plant was started that afternoon.

NAVSEA 05MR (Carl Adema) in conjunction with NAVSEA 05Z9 (Richard Helmick) funded the AC plant installations in the first two test cells. The AC plants installed in these two test cells represent units with high Fleet populations and encompass a wide-range of capacity. In addition, the HFC-134a 200-ton AC plant developed for new construction applications was chosen for use as the auxiliary AC plant. This new 200-ton plant will eventually have the largest population of newly designed AC plants in the Fleet.

According to Greg Toms, NAVSEA Program Manager for ozone-friendly refrigerant conversions (SEA 05M42), "The addition of this second test cell will enhance the Navy's AC&R RDT&E capability and ensure that NAVSEA and NSWC can continue to support the Fleet for years to come. In addition, by combining the RDT&E capability with LCM/ISEA testing capability, the Navy gets the biggest bang for the buck while creating more synergy between the two communities."

The new test cell allows NSWC to continue to support the Navy's refrigerant conversion program, winner of numerous Environmental Protection Agency awards for protection of the global environment.

The Facility in Building 1000 is the Navy's only comprehensive capability for research, development, testing and evaluation of air conditioning and refrigeration machinery. This facility is designed to accommodate emergent Fleet needs and future ship design development and is shared by Code 983 (RDT&E) and Code 921 (LCM/ISEA) to support total Navy needs of this machinery through its life cycle.

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