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Quiet as a whisper: water-cooled chillers at the Elbphilharmonie

06 September 2019

The Elbphilharmonie has been breaking every visitor record since it opened in January 2017. More than eight million people have visited the Hamburg concert hall so far. This is hardly surprising, what with the large concert hall’s enchanting, exceptional acoustics and the sophisticated technology at work behind the scenes. While world-class musicians such as pianist Daniil Trifonov or conductor Sir Simon Rattle play their concerts at the Elbphilharmonie, two water-cooled QUANTUM chillers run in the background, quiet as a whisper.

Efficient refrigeration at the Elbphilharmonie

Our water-cooled chillers ensure that the concert hall is pleasant to be in, even on a hot summer’s day. The building’s cooling system ensures that every musical presentation is enjoyable, and that the audience and the musicians keep a cool head at all times.

The people operating the Elbphilharmonie specified strict requirements for the refrigeration system: the technology was to be reliable, and it was to control the climate in the large building efficiently. The refrigeration solution was also to be particularly quiet so as not to disturb rehearsals and performances. No problem for the water-cooled QUANTUM chillers. Guests in the grand hall experience fantastic concerts while our chillers run unnoticed in the background. The QUANTUM machines are very quiet and thus ideal for use in concert halls and other indoor venues.

The Elbphilharmonie: perfectly equipped in terms of refrigeration

We installed two QUANTUM chillers in the basement of the Elbphilharmonie. Torsten Lankenau, sales engineer at ENGIE Refrigeration, explains: “The chillers are so quiet that interference with concerts is impossible. With a noise level of 75 decibels, measured from one metre away, our chillers are as quiet as a small car with a medium engine output.” While in operation, the chillers generate so little structure-borne sound that a coin balanced on one of the devices would not fall over. At the same time they are very powerful: you would need 4,500 standard fridges to achieve the refrigeration capacity of these two machines.

Water-cooled chillers: clever technology by ENGIE Refrigeration

Our chillers have been running since autumn 2016 without incident. The refrigeration system is optimised for the location of the Elbphilharmonie. Instead of obtaining cooling water from the public network, the QUANTUM chillers use brackish water from the inner harbour: a major advantage for the operators of the concert hall, as using water from the Elbe considerably reduces operating costs. The chillers reach their maximum performance when the water from the Elbe has a temperature of up to 24 degrees. On very hot days, they also use groundwater drawn from specially drilled boreholes. To prevent the chillers from becoming soiled or rusting, we have equipped them with a corrosion-resistant condenser with copper nickel pipes and automatic cleaning brushes. A special condenser with only one pass ensures that the cooling water returning to the Elbe does not exceed a temperature of 28 degrees as specified in the heat load plan.

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