Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Jesse Maddren


This thesis develops a calibrated model of the Cal Poly Central Chilled Water Plant with Thermal Energy Storage for use in determining an optimal operating control strategy. The model was developed using a transient systems simulation program (TRNSYS) that includes plant performance and manufacturer data for the primary system components, which are comprised of pumps, chillers, cooling towers, and a thermal energy storage tank. The model is calibrated to the actual measured performance of the plant using the current control strategy as a baseline. By observing and quantifying areas for potential improvement in plant performance under conditions of high campus cooling load demands, alternative control strategies for the plant are proposed. Operation of the plant under each of these control strategies is simulated in the model and evaluated for overall energy and demand-usage cost savings. These results are used to recommend improvements in the plant’s current control strategy, as well as to propose an optimal control strategy that may be applied to reduce plant operating costs.

The results of the model identify that the plant can perform more economically by employing more chiller power to charge the Thermal Energy Storage tank to higher capacities during overnight periods when the utility rates are lower. Staging the operation of the different chillers to more precisely follow the tank charges during these off-peak periods can ensure faster tank charging when its capacity may not be sufficient to meet the peak and part-peak cooling load demands. A proposed control strategy to accomplish this breaks the overnight Off-Peak rate period into three periods with separate control setpoints, which are designed to maintain the tank charge capacity at the minimum levels to be able to accommodate the daily campus cooling demands during peak and part-peak hours.