The cooling tower is perhaps one of the most important systems needed in an industrial building or manufacturing plant. It is not merely used for efficiently removing and rejecting heat from a process during industrial applications, it is also used in many HVAC and power generation applications.
Despite the critical role it plays in industrial, HVAC, and power generation processes, the cooling tower is often one of the systems that tend to receive less attention and proper maintenance. Understanding the delays and troubles a defective cooling tower may cause to the day to day industrial and manufacturing processes and knowing how to keep this heat rejection device perform at its best are the most effective ways to make sure that you get everything done smoothly and as scheduled.
If the cooling tower fails to function properly even just for a day, the other machinery and equipment that require the heat rejection system are also greatly affected. If you want to prevent this machinery and equipment from getting damaged, too, you will have to reduce or stop production at the time being. Needless to say, downtime can cause delays, additional repair expenses, and significant losses. A top-performing, effective, and efficient cooling tower, on the other end, helps ensure reliable evaporative cooling and seamless production.
In this article, we are going to talk about the most helpful ways to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a cooling tower so it can perform at its best.
Cooling Tower Technology
Choosing the right type of cooling technology is critical to ensuring top cooling tower performance. Cooling towers are available in various types. Though these different cooling towers share the same purpose- that is to remove and reject heat from a process or building- each of these types has its own specific uses and application. Before investing in and installing a cooling tower system, make sure to check first which among the available systems is the most appropriate one for its intended end-use.
Cooling towers are basically categorized into three applications- HVAC, industrial, and power generation.
- HVAC Applications. The cooling towers that are designed for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning or HVAC applications are used to provide comfort cooling in large buildings, especially those spacious areas that can no longer be handled by cost-effective air-cooled systems. The HVAC cooling towers are also used to remove unwanted heat from a chiller. They are also used in spacious buildings located in areas with a hot climate. Depending on the size, the bottle cooling tower can be used for large residential buildings, airports, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, and other commercial buildings.
- Industrial Applications. Cooling towers that are designed for industrial applications are used to dispose of large amounts of heat from various sources like machinery, and heated process material, and heat generated in manufacturing processes. They are likewise used in industrial facilities like for cooling liquid in crystallization, and in condensers of distillation columns. Large industrial and manufacturing buildings like steel and paper milling plants, food processing plants, petrochemical plants, petroleum refineries, and semi-conductor plants use gigantic industrial cooling towers to dispose of the heat absorbed in the circulating cooling water systems.
- Power Generation Applications. Cooling towers for power generation applications are also industrial cooling towers but are typically larger in size. As the name suggests, this type of cooling tower is intended for large power generation plants such as natural gas processing plants, nuclear power plants, and coal-fired power plants. These power plants typically discharge a large volume of hot water. When disposed of directly to the sea, river, lake, or any body of water, it can significantly raise the temperature of the receiving body of water and can even reach an unacceptable temperature level which may cause damages to the local ecosystem. Instead of disposing of the hot water to the river or lake, the round cooling tower dissipates the heat into the atmosphere, thus, preventing damages to the ecosystem.
Cooling towers are also available in various sizes. The capacity of the cooling tower depends on its size. One effective way to ensure that the cooling tower will function at its best and will last longer is to choose the right size. Cooling towers remove heat through evaporation by dispersing water across the fill (PVC heat-exchange media). In order for the cooling tower to function effectively, there should be enough surface area for the water-to-air interaction available within the tower. The most important factor to consider when determining the capacity of the cooling tower is the size of the surface area available for such interaction.
Determining the proper cooling tower size is quite challenging. It will require an in-depth understanding of the process and the other important factors like local weather, humidity, and temperature. To make sure you get the right size, you may need to consult an expert or a cooling tower manufacturer in India.
Apart from the capacity or size, you also need to consider the other critical factors such as the sound levels, expected overall energy savings, and up-front and expected ownership cost. These factors, though important, are mostly subjective in nature.
Design and Materials Used
Getting the right type and the proper size is not enough to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a cooling tower. You will also need to consider the materials used in building the cooling tower, as well as its redundancy capacity and water treatment capabilities. All these are part of the cooling tower design.
You must carefully pick the design that fits well with the environment where you intend to install the cooling tower. If the materials used in building the tower is not suitable for the applications or environment, the system might experience unscheduled downtime. Moreover, the structural integrity of the cooling tower can be threatened and the components can degrade more quickly. This will not only cause downtime but will as well require costly repair, or worst, component replacement.
Proper Care and Regular Maintenance
Though cooling towers do not need thorough and frequent maintenance, they also need to be checked periodically. Proper care and regular periodic maintenance will not only ensure maximum process uptime and minimal downtime, but it will as well help lengthen the service life of the cooling tower. Cooling tower maintenance typically includes:
- Cleaning the visible debris and dirt from the cold water basin.
- Clearing the visible biofilm from the surfaces.
- Disinfecting the water with algaecides and biocides to prevent growths of micro-organisms like fungi, bacteria, and algae.
- Maintaining recommended chemical levels in the cooling tower.
- Monitoring and maintaining the hot tubs.
- Lubricating the mechanical parts of the cooling tower.
- Greasing the motor of the fan and replacing the oil on its gearbox.
- Regular tower inspection to ensure structural integrity.
- Checking and maintaining water quality.
- Treating the circulating cooling water to prevent fouling and scaling.
- Inspecting the water distribution system and making sure the surface is fully wetted to avoid scale buildup. If there are dry areas, the nozzles might have clogs or cracks.
And lastly, you will need to perform a routine inspection on the entire cooling tower structure to detect possible issues and to be able to prevent any problem from getting worse. Small issues like slightly loose bolts or fouled PVC fill material, for instance, can harm the structural integrity and can lead to bigger problems if not fixed timely.
These tips might seem so simple but they are really helpful in ensuring top cooling tower performance, minimal downtime, and maximum process uptime.