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Interview: Venkatesh B., Global Head – Absorption Cooling Business, Thermax
28 May 2019

The Journal interviewed Venkatesh B., Global Head – Absorption Cooling Business, Thermax on the sidelines of REFCOLD India 2018. Here are some excerpts.

Journal (J): First of all, congratulations for winning two of the REFCOLD-Emerson Awards 2018.
Venkatesh B. (VB): Thanks a lot. It is indeed a recognition of our innovative efforts around making processes sustainable.
J: Can you describe these products and their relevance to industry?
VB: The first award is for our hybrid chiller, which is an innovative technology for the refrigeration industry. This technology combines an electrical chiller with an absorption
chiller seamlessly, without requiring any intermediate circuit. This unique combination brings out the best of the two technologies and, in turn, reduces power consumption
required for refrigeration by as much as 50%. This hybrid unit can work with waste heat sources such as hot water, exhaust gas and low pressure steam or even heat from solar thermal units, which makes it a sustainable product. In the absence of waste heat, one can use live heat sources such as steam from a biomass boiler or steam turbine to run this equipment.
The second award is for a breakthrough product called ultra low pressure vapour driven chiller for the fried snacks industry. While frying snack items such as potato wafers, moong dal and noodles, the water content in the raw material gets evaporated and is converted to water vapour at 102-105°C at a pressure just above atmospheric. Normally, this vapour gets discharged to the atmosphere, which is a great loss for the user in terms of the heat content as well as loss of water. With our technology, it is now possible to recover heat from this low pressure vapour and produce cooling that can be used for process or comfort. In this process, our chiller condenses the vapour and delivers a sizable quantity of water, which can be converted to potable water. This helps the user in reducing his power requirement for cooling and helps him achieve zero liquid discharge goals.
J: This sounds quite interesting. Are these products available for commercial use?
VB: Yes, both these products are available and are well established in the respective sectors. We now have more than 15 ultra low pressure vapour chillers running across the globe, and nearly 10 hybrid chiller units under operation. Users who have seen the benefit from these products are now trying to replicate them in their manufacturing units globally.

J: I understand that you are setting up a new plant for absorption chillers. Can you update us on this?
VB: Sure, we are setting up a new factory in Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, with an installed capacity to manufacture nearly 600 chillers annually. This is going to be one of the most modern facilities from the point of view of manufacturing technology and automation for such products. We are making this plant Industry 4.0 ready. All the equipment has been commissioned and trial production started two months back. This plant is set to reach its full throughput by the end of this financial year.
J: Good to hear that. Wish you all the best, and have a successful year ahead.
VB: Thanks a lot!

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