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Ameristar Casino air-conditioning retrofit deemed a first in nation

When the motor of a 1,500-ton chiller at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles failed, Integrated Facility Services was contracted on a first-of-its-kind retrofit in North America.

The casino’s chillers provide air conditioning to the 130,000-square-foot casino and numerous restaurants, bars and an entertainment venue. Going without air conditioning would have been a major loss of revenue, Ameristar said. Removing or repairing the chiller were deemed expensive options.

Since Ameristar had enough redundant cooling with three other1,500-ton chillers, there was time for in-depth strategizing to meet the casino’s long-term goals. Ameristar said it  desired a more energy efficient and smaller tonnage chiller capable of running at a greatly reduced capacity. The casino also wanted a chiller that could be started anytime without incurring a high peak demand charge.

The standard option of removing the existing chiller and installing a new chiller was quickly ruled out because it would require the expensive and disruptive demolition and removal of walls, setup and use of a crane and reconstruction of walls. Repairing the existing compressor to its previous condition would not increase energy efficiency.

After reviewing several other compressor alternatives, IFS’s engineers contacted long-time project partners, Micro Control Systems Inc. (MCS), a global provider of industrial control panels and the North American Distributor of Hanbell compressors. The team developed a plan to replace the old constant-speed single compressor with two, 450-ton, variable-speed Magnetic Bearing centrifugal compressors. The Hanbell RTM 90 oil-less compressors use a Micro Control System’s MCS-Magnum controller to operate the chiller safely and efficiently.

The project is the first chiller retrofit in North America to use the Hanbell oil-less variable-speed Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal compressors. The option provides 900 tons of cooling and eliminates high peak energy charges upon start up, officials said.

The solution also provides great turn down capabilities to eliminate compressor cycling on and off during low load conditions, resulting in increased energy efficiency and decreased operating costs.

Founded in 1966, IFS employs more than 250 professional and trade team members at its headquarters in St. Louis and office in Columbia, Mo. IFS provides HVAC, plumbing, piping, fire protection and building automation services to clients throughout Illinois and Missouri. The firm recently became 100 percent employee-owned, following decades of continued expansion and growth.

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