About Cooling Towers
cooling tower is a heat rejection device,
which extracts waste heat to the atmosphere
though the cooling of a water stream to a
lower temperature. The type of heat
rejection in a cooling tower is termed
"evaporative" in that it allows a small
portion of the water being cooled to
evaporate into a moving air stream to
provide significant cooling to the rest of
that water stream. The heat from the water
stream transferred to the air stream raises
the air's temperature and its relative
humidity to 100%, and this air is discharged
to the atmosphere. Evaporative heat
rejection devices such as cooling towers are
commonly used to provide significantly lower
water temperatures than achievable with "air
cooled" or "dry" heat rejection devices,
like the radiator in a car, thereby
achieving more cost-effective and energy
efficient operation of systems in need of
cooling. Think of the times you've seen
something hot be rapidly cooled by putting
water on it, which evaporates, cooling
rapidly, such as an overheated car radiator.
The cooling potential of a wet surface is
much better than a dry one.
Common applications for cooling towers are providing cooled water for air-conditioning, manufacturing and electric power generation. The smallest cooling towers are designed to handle water streams of only a few gallons of water per minute supplied in small pipes like those might see in a residence, while the largest cool hundreds of thousands of gallons per minute supplied in pipes as much as 15 feet (about 5 meters) in diameter on a large power plant.
The generic term "cooling tower" is used to describe both direct (open circuit) and indirect (closed circuit) heat rejection equipment. While most think of a "cooling tower" as an open direct contact heat rejection device, the indirect cooling tower, sometimes referred to as a "closed circuit cooling tower" is nonetheless also a cooling tower.
Some useful terms, commonly used in the cooling tower industry:
Drift - Water droplets that are carried out of the cooling tower with the exhaust air. Drift droplets have the same concentration of impurities as the water entering the tower. The drift rate is typically reduced by employing baffle-like devices, called drift eliminators, through which the air must travel after leaving the fill and spray zones of the tower.
Blow-out - Water droplets blown out of the cooling tower by wind, generally at the air inlet openings. Water may also be lost, in the absence of wind, through splashing or misting. Devices such as wind screens, louvers, splash deflectors and water diverters are used to limit these losses.
Plume - The stream of saturated exhaust air leaving the cooling tower. The plume is visible when water vapor it contains condenses in contact with cooler ambient air, like the saturated air in one's breath fogs on a cold day. Under certain conditions, a cooling tower plume may present fogging or icing hazards to its surroundings. Note that the water evaporated in the cooling process is "pure" water, in contrast to the very small percentage of drift droplets or water blown out of the air inlets.
Blow-down - The portion of the circulating water flow that is removed in order to maintain the amount of dissolved solids and other impurities at an acceptable level.
Leaching - The loss of wood preservative chemicals by the washing action of the water flowing through a wood structure cooling tower.
Noise - Sound energy emitted by a cooling tower and heard (recorded) at a given distance and direction. The sound is generated by the impact of falling water, by the movement of air by fans, the fan blades moving in the structure, and the motors, gearboxes or drive belts.
Cooling towers by NATIONAL COOLING TOWERS