A Chilling Experience

About 20 GBS students embarked on a study trip to the District Cooling System run by the Singapore District Cooling (SDC), where they learnt about the latest air-con cooling technology that saves cost.  Gerard Edward and Nicole Chew share their experience.

Recently, our lecturers brought us for a mini field trip to a District Cooling System (DCS) plant located at Marina Bay Sands to get an in-depth understanding of this cooling technology which we learn about in our diploma course.  The objective was to allow us to see for ourselves the actual system in operation – in other words, the information in our textbooks come to live, from 2D to 3D!  How interesting right?

The DCS, run by the Singapore District Cooling (SDC), produces chilled water for distribution to the buildings in the Central Business Districts (CBD), including the Marina Bay Financial Centre (Tower 1), which buys its chilled water from SDC for its air-conditioning needs.

You see, it works like this:  The DCS chiller plant operates largely during the off-peak tariff period 2300 – 0700 hrs), when electricity is cheaper, to produce ice which is then stored.  This ice will then be melted during the on-peak period to chill the water that is pumped thru the air-handling units to cool the building. So by leveraging on the different pricing of electricity in this way, building owners benefit from reduced operating costs.This is so cool, right?  In every sense of the word!

The DCS at MarinaBay area produces about 600 tons of chilled water each hour, serving so many people at one go!  When we heard this information, we were really shocked! We did not know that it was able to produce so much chilled water! Also, the SDC was so much bigger than we thought it would be, as our school’s plant site is so much smaller.

During the trip, we were led to a pathway that leads to the basement. We were told by our “tour guide” that we were going to see the different plants there!  So were all wondering, “why in the world are plants growing in the basement?”  Later, we found out: the “plants” that we are looking at are not the real flower plants or bushes, but CHILLER plants!  Anyway, the plants there are so different from the ones in our lecture notes.  It was really an eye-opener for us! 

Also, being able to see how these chiller plants actually help to reduce a building’s operation cost was very fascinating. One word to describe it would be overwhelming! Instead of just calculating the amount of savings from examples in the tutorials, we got a real life experience that can prepare us for our work in this field, in the future!

Overall, we really loved the experience from this SDC field trip.  Not only have we gained new knowledge about the DCS and chiller plants, but we are also able to relate what we learn to what we saw, and what we saw to what we learn.

We are so thankful that GBS provided us with the relevant knowledge before we go out to work! With our GBS diploma, we can apply the knowledge that we have learnt in our work in the future :)


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