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**THERMAL PERFORMANCE PREDICTION
**

Prof. dr Branislav Jaćimović

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

University of Belgrade

1. Introduction

Water cooling with air in cooling towers is well-known way to cool significant amounts of water.

Cooling towers are used in process industries, refrigeration, electrical power plants, etc., to reject waste heat

absorbed from process streams by cooling water. This means that water can be recycled and after cooling in

tower it can be sent back to the plant.

For huge amounts of water, towers with natural air circulation are used (water flow rates greater than

1,25 m

3

/s) and for smaller flow rates mechanical draft towers are used in which air is made to flow through the

tower by means of one or more fans (induced or forced draft). The type of flow may be wholly counter-flow,

partially counter and partially cross-flow or completely cross-flow

[ ] 1

. Counter-flow and cross-flow cooling

towers are schematically shown on figure 1.

Figure 1 Countercurrent (a) and cross-flow (b) cooling tower

Cross-flow cooling towers find application for water flow rates up to 6 m

3

/s. Dimensions of the basis

can be big as 16x16 m, with 10 m in height and with fans with up to 4 m in diameter

[ ] 2

.

Heat and mass transfer occur in the region of tower packing. Tower performance depends on air

temperature and humidity (dry and wet bulb temperatures), atmospheric pressure and water inlet temperature,

but also on air and water flow arrangement

[ ] 3

. When recycled to a cooling tower water cools mainly through

the release of latent heat of vaporization (about 90% of total heat exchange) and the exchange of sensible heat

in contact with ambient air.

Mathematical model of heat and mass transfer is based on Merkel assumptions

[ ] 4

:

• quantity of evaporated water is negligible compared to water circulation rate through the tower, which

means that water flow rate is practically constant (

m const

l

≈

);

• heat transfer resistance in liquid phase can be neglected due to small liquid film thickness;

• psychrometric ratio is equal to 1 (Lewis relation)

• heat transfer rate can be calculated according to film theory by the equation

( )

[ ]

q h t h

Y

g l g

· ⋅ −

~

~

*

β (1)

2. Thermal performance of countercurrent cooling tower

Basic parameter for cooling tower design is number of transfer units defined as

[ ] 5

1

( )

( )

[ ]

NTU

S

m

h

h t h

h h

h t h

g

Y

lg

g

g

g l g

S

g out g in

g l g

m

lg

·

⋅

·

−

·

−

−

∫

~

~

*

, ,

*

β d

(2)

Since the equilibrium line (

h

g

*

, vs.,

t

l

) is not straight number of transfer units is generally evaluated

numerically. Water temperature change interval in cooling tower is usually small (up to 20°C

[ ] 6

) so instead

of real equilibrium curve linear equation can be applied as follows

( ) h t c t b

g l h l

* *

· ⋅ + (3)

For example for water temperature change

t

l

· ÷ ° 30 50 C

the straight equilibrium line can be formed by

least squares method in form

( ) h t t

g l l

*

, , , ·− + ⋅ 172 8 8 716 kJ / kgB

(4)

with correlation ratio 0,992 and standard deviation of 4,53%.

Using assumption (3) following parameters can be defined:

• R , heat-diffusion potential

R

m c

m c

c

t t

h h

g h

l l

h

l in l out

g out g in

·

⋅

⋅

· ⋅

−

−

*

*

, ,

, ,

(5)

• P, efficiency parameter

( )

P

h h

h t h

g out g in

g l in g in

·

−

−

, ,

*

, ,

(6)

and for countercurrent flow they are related to the number of transfer units as follows

NTU

R

R P

P

R

P

P

R

g

·

−

⋅

− ⋅

−

≠

−

·

¹

'

¹

¹

¹

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

ln for

for

(7)

Maximal value of parameter P is

P

R

R

R

max

·

≥

<

¹

'

¹

¹

¹

1

1

1 1

for

for

(8)

Very useful parameter in cooling tower design is wet-bulb temperature approach defined as the

difference between the exit liquid temperature and the entering air wet-bulb temperature

∆t t t

ap l out wb

· −

, (9)

∆t

ap is the measure of driving force available for heat and mass transfer in packing as stated in

[ ] 3

and

[ ] 4

. Ordinary range of wet-bulb temperature approach is

∆t

ap

· ÷ ° 2 5 5 , C

according to

[ ] 3

.

If equilibrium line is straight (equation (3)), wet-bulb temperature approach is

( )

∆t

h t h

c

ap

g l out g in

h

·

−

*

, ,

*

(10)

or it can be written as

2

( )

( ) ∆t

h t h

c

R P

ap

g l in g in

h

·

−

⋅ − ⋅

*

, ,

*

1

(11)

or

( )

( ) ∆t t t R P

ap l in wb

· − ⋅ − ⋅

,

1

(12)

For maximal value of parameter P minimal value of wet-bulb temperature approach is

( )

( )

∆t

R

t t R R

ap min

l in wb

,

,

·

≥

− ⋅ − <

¹

'

¹

0 1

1 1

for

for

(13)

and it can be used for calculation of minimal water outlet temperature

( )

t

t R

R t R t R

l out min

wb

wb l in

, ,

,

·

≥

⋅ + − ⋅ <

¹

'

¹

for

for

1

1 1

(14)

Equation (14) means that

t

wb

is minimal temperature to which water can be cooled only in case when

R ≥ 1. Otherwise

t

wb

is not the measure of cooling limit. In case when R < 1 water minimal outlet temperature

is greater than

t

wb

and depends on

t

wb

, but also on R and

t

l in , .

3. Thermal performance of cross-flow cooling tower

Figure 2 presents a section of tower packing of differential interfacial surface dS for cross-flow.

Figure 2 Heat and mass transfer on the differential section of tower packing for cross-flow

Heat balance for gas phase is as follows

m

H

h H q B s H Z

m

H

h

h

Z

Z H

g

p

g p v

g

p

g

g

⋅ ⋅ + ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ · ⋅ + ⋅

¸

¸

_

,

⋅ d d d d d

∂

∂

(15)

After replacing (1) and simplifying heat balance comes to

( )

[ ]

m

H

h

Z

B s h t h

g

p

g

p v

Y

g l g

⋅ · ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ −

∂

∂

β

~

~

*

(16)

Transfer in liquid phase is presented by means of following balance equation

m Z

Z

c t q B s H Z

m z

Z

c t

t

H

H

l

p

l l p v

l

p

l l

l

⋅

⋅ ⋅ · ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ +

⋅

⋅ ⋅ + ⋅

¸

¸

_

,

d

d d

d

d

∂

∂

(17)

and after replacing equation (1) in (17) we get

( )

[ ]

m

Z

c

t

H

B s h t h

l

p

l

l

p v

Y

g l g

⋅ ⋅ · − ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ −

∂

∂

β

~

~

*

(18)

Partial differential equations (16) and (18) present a system which is followed by conditions at tower

inlet

( ) h Z H h

g g in

· · 0;

,

(19)

( ) t Z H t

l l in

;

,

· · 0

(20)

System of partial differential equations can be solved by using following transformations

η

β

· ⋅

⋅

⋅

⋅ c

S

m c

H

H

h

lg

Y

l l p

*

~

~

(21)

3

ξ

β

·

⋅

⋅

S

m

Z

Z

lg

Y

g p

~

~

(22)

( )

( )

Y

h t h

h t h

g l g in

g l in g in

·

−

−

*

,

*

, ,

(23)

( )

X

h h

h t h

g g in

g l in g in

·

−

−

,

*

, ,

(24)

In this manner system (16) and (18) with conditions (19) and (20) is transformed in

∂

∂η

Y

X Y · −

(25)

∂

∂ξ

X

Y X · −

(26)

( ) ( ) Y ξ η η · · − 0; exp

(27)

( ) ( ) X ξη ξ ; exp · · − − 0 1

(28)

Solutions are given in the following form

( ) ( ) Y I · − − − ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅

∫

1 2

0

0

exp η ξ η ξ η

η

d (29)

( ) ( ) X I · − − ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅

∫

exp η ξ η ξ ξ

ξ

0

0

2 d (30)

Variables X and Y at the packing exit can be averaged as follows

( )

( ) ( ) Y I

m p

p

p p

η

ξ

η ξ η ξ η ξ

η ξ

· − ⋅ − − ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅

∫ ∫

1

1

2

0

0 0

exp d d (31)

( )

( ) ( ) X I

m p

p

p p

ξ

η

η ξ η ξ ξ η

ξ η

· ⋅ − − ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ ⋅

∫ ∫

1

2

0

0 0

exp d d (32)

where

ξ

β

p

lg

Y

g

g

S

m

NTU ·

⋅

·

~

~

(33)

η

β

p h

lg

Y

l l

h

g

l l

g g

c

S

m c

c

m

m c

NTU R NTU · ⋅

⋅

⋅

· ⋅

⋅

⋅ · ⋅

*

~

*

~

(34)

For cross-flow it is obvious that

( )

( )

X

h h

h t h

P

m p

g out g in

g l in g in

ξ ·

−

−

·

, ,

*

, ,

(35)

( )

( )

( )

Y

h t h

h t h

R P

m p

g l out g in

g l in g in

η ·

−

−

· − ⋅

*

, ,

*

, ,

1 (36)

Analogous to surface heat exchangers correction factor for driving force can be introduced in the form

4

( )

( )

[ ]

( )

[ ]

( )

( )

ε P R

h t h

h t h

P

R P

NTU R

R

P

NTU P

R

g l g

m cross flow

g l g

m counter flow

g

g

;

ln

*

,

*

,

·

−

−

·

−

− ⋅

⋅ −

≠

⋅ −

·

¹

'

¹

¹

¹

¹

¹

−

−

1

1

1

1

1

1

for

for

(37)

Correction factor is always less than 1 and represents also the ratio of liquid-gas contact surface for

counter-flow and cross-flow under equal inlet and outlet phases states (temperature, pressure and humidity) and

flow rates

( )

[ ]

[ ]

ε P R

S

S

lg

counter flow

lg

cross flow

; ·

−

−

(38)

Figure 3 presents cross-flow cooling tower heat performances evaluated using equations (32)÷(37) and

allows easy thermal performance prediction for cross-flow cooling tower in either cases:

1. for known

m

l

,

t

l in , ,

t

l out , ,

m

g ,

h

g in , and

h

g out , , one can calculate required surface for gas-liquid

contact

S

lg

2. for known

m

l

,

t

l in , ,

m

g ,

h

g in , and

S

lg , one can calculate outlet air enthalpy

h

g out , and water

temperature

t

l out ,

For known value of R equation (37) or diagram on figure 3 can also be useful for determining maximal

value of parameter P following condition

( ) ε P R

max

; ·0

(38)

which means that for infinite value of contact surface driving force is equal to zero.

Figure 3 Cross-flow cooling tower heat performances

P

max

for cross-flow is equal to the one for countercurrent tower, defined by (8). Evaluating

P

max

is

important for case 1, for which flow rates, enthalpies and temperatures should be chosen to provide

P P

max

<

and ( ) ε P R ; as high as possible, in order to keep gas-liquid surface as low as possible.

4. Countercurrent vs. cross-flow cooling tower

Using given simplified method for cooling tower performance prediction it is possible to compare

various flow arrangements in cooling towers. Comparison of required gas-liquid contact surface (i.e., number of

transfer units) for countercurrent and cross-flow cooling tower is sensible only when all other parameters are

equal. Results of typical example from industrial practice are shown on figure 4, on which number of transfer

units are plotted vs. wet-bulb temperature approach, both for countercurrent and cross-flow. It is obvious that

for greater

∆t

ap values, number of transfer units for both flow arrangements are practically the same. For

smaller

∆t

ap values number of transfer units for countercurrent tower is significantly smaller than for cross-

flow.

5

Figure 4 Countercurrent, Vs, cross flow cooling tower

It should be noted that number of transfer units is directly connected with cooling tower capital costs,

because tower (packing) dimensions are related to required gas-liquid contact surface.

5. Conclusion

Given mathematical model simplifies cooling tower design procedure in cases when equilibrium line can

be treated as straight line according to equation (3). Performance diagram presented on figure 3, for cross-flow

towers, enables quick estimation for:

1. designing a new tower for given process parameters;

2. calculating outlet conditions for existing tower and given parameters at tower inlet;

3. calculating minimal air flow rate.

In various literature sources water cooling limit is

t

wb

. It was shown that this is the true only for R ≥ 1,

otherwise, besides

t

wb

, it depends also on R and

t

l in , .

LITERATURE CITED

1. ***: HEAT EXCHANGER DESIGN HANDBOOK, Hemisphere, Washington, 1983.

2. Foust, A. S. et al: PRINCIPLES OF UNIT OPERATIONS, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1980.

3. Treybal, R.: MASS-TRANSFER OPERATIONS, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1981.

4. Sherwood, T. K., Pigford, R. L., Wilke, C. R.: MASS TRANSFER, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1975.

5. Lydersen, A., L.: MASS-TRANSFER IN ENGINEERING PRACTICE, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester,

1983.

6. Fraas, A. P, Ozisik, M. N.: HEAT EXCHANGER DESIGN, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1971.

________________________

Prof. dr Branislav Jaćimović

6

NOMENCLATURE

A, water (liquid or vapor) B, dry air

B, m

, depth

c, J / (K kg) ⋅

, specific heat

c

h

*

, J / (K kgB) ⋅ , equilibrium line slope

h, J / kgB

, enthalpy

H, m

, height

( ) I x

0

, zero-order Bessel function of x

m, kg / s

, mass flow rate NTU , number of transfer units

P

, efficiency parameter

q, W/ m

2

, heat transfer rate

R

, heat-diffusion potential S, m

2

, surface

s

v

, m / m

2 3

, specific interfacial surface

t , °C

, temperature

Z, m

, length

∆t

ap

, °C

, wet-bulb temperature approach

( ) ε P R ; , correction factor for driving force

~

~ β

Y

, kgA / [m s (kgA/ kgB)]

2

⋅ ⋅ , mass transfer coefficient

Indexes

g

, gas in , inlet

l , liquid

lg

, liquid-gas

m, mean out , outlet

p

, packing wb , wet-bulb

*, equilibrium

7

SUMMARY

B. Jaćimović

Cooling towers are widely used apparatuses for water cooling in various industries (process, refrigeration,

electrical power plants, etc.). Design procedure for thermal performance prediction is based on numerical

integration of driving force and experimentally obtained heat transfer data for various types of packing. This

paper describes simplified method for estimating driving force. Simplification is based on straightening of the

equilibrium line for given phase conditions.

According to this simplified method, number of transfer units is analytically obtained, avoiding numerical

procedure. Given method can be applied for design of new tower as well as for evaluation of outlet air enthalpy

and water temperature for existing tower. It also gives a possibility for estimating working point for minimal air

flow rate determination.

Water cooling limit is discussed and it was shown that minimal water outlet temperature generally depends on

inlet air wet-bulb temperature, heat-diffusion potential and water inlet temperature.

KEY WORDS

cooling towers, design procedure, wet-bulb temperature approach, heat-diffusion potential, efficiency, number

of transfer units

REZIME

B. Jaćimović

Kule za hla|enje vode se koriste za hla|enje vode u razli~itim industrijskim oblastima (procesna industrija

termotehnika, termoenergetika, itd.). Procedura za prora~un toplotnih performansi je bazirana na numeri~kom

odre|ivanju pogonske sile procesa razmene toplote i materije, kao i eksperimentalnim podacima o intenzitetu

razmene za razli~ite tipove ispune. U radu je prikazana upro{ćena procedura za odre|ivanje pogoske sile

procesa za slu~aj kada se ravnote`na linija mo`e aproksimirati pravom linijom.

Na ovaj na~in se broj jedinica prenosa mo`e odrediti analiti~ki. Izlo`eni metod prora~una se mo`e koristiti kako

za prora~un poerformansi novih kula, tako i za odre|ivanje izlaznih parametara radnih fluida za postojeće kule.

Tako|e je moguće odre|ivanje radne ta~ke kule za potrebe izra~unavanja minimalnog protoka vazduha.

Posebno je diskutovana minimalna temperatura hla|enja vode. Pokazano je da osim temperature vazduha po

vla`nom termometru granica hla|enja zavisi i od toplotno-difuzionog potencijala i temperature vode na ulazu u

kulu.

KLJU^NE RE^I

kule za hla|enje vode, prora~unska procedura, granica hla|enja, toplotno-difuzioni potentcijal, efikasnost, broj

jedinica prenosa

8

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