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Technological Evolution and Research for the Enhancement of Cooling Tower Performance

April 29th, 2016

Blog: A series of complex mechanical parts, plastic fans, PVC fill pack and drift eliminators form the backbone of a high-performing cooling tower. They’re technologically refined and intelligently engineered, built to maximise energy savings while providing a safe legionella free and a productive cooling solution. On traveling back in time, early cooling towers and evaporative condensers were the tall metal stacks that relied on pacific heat transfer from a prevailing wind. They passed potable water directly through condensers which caused evaporative cooling, leaking vital fluids into drains. This wasteful practice has long since faded away, leaving cooling tower performance engineers to focus on water saving recycling systems, fluid filtration, drift reduction, and the mechanics involved in atmospheric lakeside cool type heat rejection.

Tower Thermal Performance Improvements

Large aquacool fibreglass or steel Baltimore type cooling tower columns use wide surface areas and active air intake louver systems to good purpose, but that same open surface introduces a number of chinks in the proverbial coolboy armor. The centrifugal fans or axial impellers and primitive heat exchangers used inside antiquated cooling towers, for example, were very inefficient and prone to corrosion. Modern air coil plants are built from rust-resistant alloys or fibreglass. They substitute axial hydrothermal fans in place of less efficient BAC centrifugal fans, with new fan drives shafts pulleys bearings, and innovative fill packs solve heat exchange issues by maximizing surface to water contact. The incorporated Brentwood style fill packs use specially designed plastic films, proprietary materials that assume intricate geometrical shapes, cross-fluted and herringbone patterns with intricately designed fluid distribution surfaces. Chemical treatment for corrosion uses inhibitors and biocides to protect corroded basins. Sacrificial anodes can also protect cooling tower basins, reducing the need for epoxy coating or fibreglassing and flow coating

System Refinements

In evaluating cooling tower performance, we’re constantly reevaluating the air conditioning and refrigeration systems that generate chilled air. Scale is a problem, as is the areas on the tower where biological growths prosper so water treatment is required. A state-of-the-art maintenance program takes care of this issue, plus there are water conditioners working in concert with the mechanical maintenance strategy. Meanwhile, newly installed variable speed fans VSD’s are reacting instantly when the cooling cycle slows, thus actively helping to modulate the cooling process. Similarly, variable flow spray pumps are adapting to ensure the fill medium is properly wetted at all times. Accumulated solids are eliminated via bleed in this manner, leading to a rise in fill pack efficiency and a simultaneous drop in excess evaporation, the watery mists that overfill drain channels. High-quality drift eliminators support this latter function, and air intake louvers stop water splash out. Clean water distribution nozzles allow full water flow, and rubber grommets allow easy removal for maintenance. Hot water decks require sunlight protection to reduce bacteria, often identified in risk management plans, RMP.

Confined space entry needs to be always considered when inspecting cooling tower components such as suction strainers, ball float valves, overflow, and drain lines. A JSA should be completed before a basin in entered. Gas testing needs to take place to ensure oxygen levels are safe in pits tanks and there are no ammonia leaks from the condenser coils.

The aim is to keep all BAC cooling tower performance on the cutting-edge, ahead of the technological curve by introducing better materials and superior engineering solutions. The solutions address environmental concerns, sewage trade waste issues, and energy saving methodologies. They recycle conditioned treated water, introduce noise abatement baffles, sound attenuators, maximise heat exchange processes, and keep costs low. There’s more to look forward to in the next few years, with an improved relationship between airflow delivery and cooling water management opening the way to greater system improvements.

Safe access platforms and ladders are also critical to allow ongoing cooling tower component inspection and maintenance, in line with AS3666, AS/ NZS 3666 part 1 2 and 3



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