Integrated Facility Services Performs First-of-its-Kind Retrofit to Maintain Air Conditioning to Ameristar Casino After Chiller Failure

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When the motor of a 1500-ton chiller at Ameristar Casino in St. Charles failed, Integrated Facility Services (IFS) was contracted to develop a sustainable solution to a complex challenge. The casino’s chillers provide air conditioning to the 130,000-square-foot casino and numerous restaurants, bars and an entertainment venue. As one of the largest tourist attractions in the St. Louis area, a loss of cooling can be a major loss of revenue for Ameristar Casino. Ruling out the expensive option to remove and replace the chiller as well as repairing the existing chiller, IFS executed the first chiller retrofit of its kind in North America, giving the region’s largest casino a more energy efficient system. 

Since Ameristar had enough redundant cooling with three other 1,500 tons chillers, when the chiller failed there was time for in-depth strategizing to meet the casino’s long-term goals. Ameristar 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. 

Keeping Ameristar’s objectives in the forefront, a third option for better performance, improved efficiency and cost savings was identified. 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 highly efficient Hanbell RTM 90 oil-less compressors use a Micro Control System’s MCS-Magnum controller to operate the chiller safely and efficiently.

This project is the first chiller retrofit in North America to use the Hanbell oil-less variable-speed Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal (MBC) compressors, this option provides 900 tons of cooling and eliminates high peak energy charges upon start up. 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. The oil-free system reduces energy losses due to friction and increases the heat transfer efficiency of the chiller as well as eliminates the need for oil maintenance. An overwhelming success in meeting Ameristar’s goals, the retrofit outperforms pre-energy analysis.

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

Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service HVAC, plumbing, piping, fire protection and building automation firm with more than 250 professional and trade employees. Established in 1966, IFS delivers integrated mechanical engineering and construction, installation, service and planned maintenance, and energy conservation solutions to ensure occupant comfort, improve efficiency and reduce operational costs. 100% employee-owned, IFS is ranked among the top 100 HVAC contractors in the country by Contractor Magazine, was named a 2018 Midwest Top 50 Specialty Contractor by Engineering News-Record and is the fifth largest mechanical contractor in the St. Louis region, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. IFS serves clients in Missouri and Illinois, with offices in St. Louis and Columbia, MO. For more information, call (636) 680-2100 or (573) 442-6100 and visit www.intfs.com.

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