Shipboard Chillers for U.S. Fleet
The future USS Coronado (LCS 4) conducts at-sea acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico on August 23, 2013.  

A prototype compressor for a new generation of shipboard chillers for the U.S. Navy fleet has been successfully tested.

Under an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded contract awarded by the U.S. Navy in 2009, York Navy Systems began developing the high-efficiency chillers to improve shipboard heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Chillers provide vital cooling for ship weapons, command and control systems and crew comfort.

The Navy’s goals for the contracted chillers are to:

  • Reduce fuel consumption by 25 percent and maintenance by at least 50 percent.
  • Increase cooling density by 50 percent and reliability by at least 200 percent.
  • Meet environmental objectives by cutting refrigerant leakage by 90 percent.

These goals have been addressed with the new units, says York Navy Systems, Milwaukee. The chillers are based on variable-speed, economized two-stage compressors with oil-free magnetic bearings and high-speed permanent magnet motors.

For many years, York Navy Systems has partnered with American industries, and it did so on this project with Fairmont Automation, Calnetix and Mezzo Technologies for the automation, power electronics-magnetic bearings and micro-tube heat exchangers.

Testing of the first of the high-efficiency compressor has demonstrated that all of the Navy’s goals will be achieved, the company says. The compressors are slated for new ship design and construction. The compressor also has been designed as a retrofit option to improve the performance and energy usage of more than 200 chillers already in fleet use. YORK is expected to commence construction of production units in 2014 with the first ship installation scheduled for 2016.

According to the company, currently more than 90 percent of the vessels in the U.S. Navy fleet use York air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

Navy chillers must be designed for 35- to 50-years of service during which they will be exposed to extreme environments such as weapons-effect shock, heavy-weather ship vibration, and temperatures ranging from the Arctic to tropical locations.