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2008 J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 96 012058

(http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/96/1/012058)

View the table of contents for this issue, or go to the journal homepage for more

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Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

Y B Zhao 1 , F Z Sun, M Gao and K Wang

School of Energy Source and Power Engineering, Shandong University, 73 Jing-shi

Road, Jinan 250061, Shandong, P. R. China.

Email: zhybxikong@163.com

Abstract. A mathematical model for water evaporation and water droplet movement is

established to describe the air-water interaction in natural draft wet cooling tower

(NDWCT).The standard k model is used to close the Reynolds average Navier-Stokes

equations. The three-dimensional heat and mass transfer process in NDWCT is simulated to

analyze the crosswind effect on wet cooling tower performance. It is found that the heat and

mass transfer in fill zone is seriously affected by crosswind, while the wet cooling tower

performance is improved when crosswind velocity is higher than 5 m s -1 . Conditions and

locations for good cooling performance are pointed out.

1. Introduction

As a cold side equipment of power plant thermodynamic system, the natural draft wet cooling tower

(NDWCT) plays a significant role in power plant high efficient and energy-saving operation. Inside

the NDWCT as shown in Figure 1, hot water is sprayed out of spray nozzles, and flows through fill

zone in film type, then flows into rain zone as water droplets for the combined impact of gravity,

viscosity and surface tension, and collects in water pond. Cooling air temperature and humidity

increase after air-water heat and mass transfer inside NDWCT, then generating density difference

between air inside and outside tower. The buoyancy caused by density difference and tower height is

the main force driving air flowing through NDWCT, and is decided by air-water heat and mass

transfer intensity caused by simultaneous convection transfer of heat and mass. The air-water mass

flow rate ratio, the air-water temperature difference, and the contact type are three major factors

influencing the intensity of heat and mass transfer. Crosswind has a significant effect on NDWCT

operation performance, so three-dimensional analysis is required to investigate crosswind effect.

NDWCT involves two-phase flow as [1] and shaped jet as [2]. Moreover, the water phase exists as

droplet and film, so NDWCT numerical simulation is very complex. Comparing with the

investigations of crosswind effect on natural draft dry cooling tower [3-5], investigations about the

crosswind effect on wet cooling tower are very few. Two-dimensional numerical analyses about wet

cooling tower performance were presented in [6-7]. However, they could not investigate crosswind

effect. Rafat et al.[8] have studied the crosswind effect on NDWCT using discrete phase model for

water phase. However, the required heat and mass transfer between air and water film flow in fill zone

was achieved by controlling the water droplet velocity.

1

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

This study computes air-water heat and mass transfer in fill zone according to mass transfer

coefficient experimental formula [9] and the modified Lewis factor [10], and computes air-water

interaction in spray zone and rain zone by the discrete phase model. Through the three-dimensional

(3D) numerical investigation of heat and mass transfer process inside NDWCT under crosswind, the

hot water temperature drop in each zone is plotted versus the crosswind velocity, and some contours

about water temperature and the mass flow rate ratio of air to water are sketched out to analyze the

crosswind effect on NDWCT operation performance.

Figure 1. Schematic of natural draft wet cooling Figure 2. Control volume for cooling water.

tower. 1-air inlet; 2-air outlet; 3-eliminator; 4spray zone; 5-fill zone; 6-rain zone; 7-water pond

2. Governing equations

2.1. Governing equations for cooling air

Under constant ambient and operation conditions, the flow of cooling air inside and outside the

NDWCT can be taken as steady non-equilibrium state and meets the steady Reynolds average N-S

governing equations as follows:

G

( ) = S + S

(1)

G

where is the moist air density, is the velocity vector and stands for scalar quantities such as

velocity components x , y and z , species f v , air temperature T, turbulence kinetic energy k and

turbulence dissipation rate , S is the internal source term of air governing equation, and S is the

source term caused by air-water interaction.

The pressure of air inside and outside tower varies very little, so the density variation caused by

pressure can be ignored and the cooling air can be taken as incompressible ideal gas.

Hot water is considered to fall only vertically. The governing equations for hot water in a finite control

volume shown in Figure 2 are presented as follows:

dq

= Sm

d( z )

(2)

d

( cwTw q ) = S we

d( z )

(3)

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

where q is the local hot water mass flow rate and Tw is the local water temperature.

The falling velocity wz of water droplet in spray zone and rain zone is computed as (4).

d wz ( w ) g

fz

=

d( z )

w wz

mw wz

(4)

where w , mw and f z are water droplet density, mass and movement resistance separately.

2.3. Heat and mass transfer model

According to the water evaporation one-film theory [11], assume the moisture content and vapour

partial pressure of moist air are xma and pva separately, and assume the saturated moisture content and

vapour partial pressure in the saturated air layer at the water temperature Tw are xw and pw separately.

Then the evaporation rate in fill zone can be calculated by (5).

S m = x ( xw xma )

(5)

where xv = Bq m g ma n is the mass transfer coefficient per unit volume, g ma is the moist air mass flow

rate, and B, m and n are parameters given through experiments [9].

The evaporation rate S m of hot water in spray zone and rain zone is calculated by (6).

p

p

S m = N d Ap hm w va

RTw RT

(6)

where N d is the number of water droplets in unit volume, Ap is the surface area per water droplet,

hm =

Dv,m

( 2 + 0.6Re

12

d

Sc1 3 ) is the unit area mass transfer coefficientR is the universal gas constant,

dp

Red is the Reynolds number based on the water droplet diameter dp, and Sc is the air Schmidt number.

Moist air energy source Se and hot water negative energy source S we are given as follows:

Se = K h (Tw T ) + Sm c pv (Tw T )

(7)

S we = K h (Tw T ) + S m rw

(8)

where K h is the convective heat transfer coefficient and c pv is the vapour constant pressure specific

heat. Therefore, the heat and mass transfer coefficients K h and xv are two key factors influencing

heat and mass transfer intensity. In fill zone, K h and xv can be correlated through Lewis factor

Lef = K h

p

xv

K h = N d Ap

k

k

Nu = N d Ap ( 2.0 + 0.6 Red1 2 Pr1 3 )

dp

dp

(9)

where k is moist air heat conductivity and Pr is the Prandtl number for turbulent airflow.

The pressure drop of air through fill, spray facilities and eliminator is defined as (10).

p = Apn

(10)

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

where A and n are empirical coefficients [9], and p is the air perpendicular velocity in fill zone.

The air movement resistance caused by all water droplets per unit volume in rain zone and spray

zone can be calculated by (11).

Fi =

6q

w wz d

3

p

fi =

6q

w wz d

3

p

Cd Red

dp

8

(i + wi )

(11)

where i stands for coordinates x, y and z, fi is the interactive force between air and water droplet, and

water movement velocities wx and wy in x- and y-direction are set to 0.

The investigated cooling tower is a full-scale tower with a height of 123.4 m, a fill cross-section area

of 5500 m2 and an inlet height of 8.33 m. For the symmetry of boundary conditions and physical

model, only a half tower is investigated in the numerical domain with a height of 900m and a radius of

500m as shown in Figure 3. The numerical domain is meshed with 651,328 and 1,114,816 cells

separately for verifying the grid-independence of simulation results.

Figure 3 presents the general boundary conditions. Velocity inlet boundary condition is applied to

investigate the crosswind effect. y and z are set to zero, and x is specified as (12) [9].

z

x = 10

z10

0.28

(12)

where z10 = 10 m is the reference height and 10 is the reference value of x at z10 = 10 m .

Because the domain top surface is far from the tower and independent of the tower generally, it can

be taken as the velocity inlet boundary condition. Porous-jump model is used to model the air

movement resistance through fill zone. Hot water is sprayed from the spray face, so the hot water

parameters of spray face are set to be the initial parameters of hot water.

Table 1. Relative parameters of cooling tower operation.

Relevant parameters

Reference values

Relevant parameters

Water volume flow rate

Atmospheric pressure /kpa

100.4

/m3s-1

Air dry-bulb temperature /K

304.85

Inlet water temperature /K

Air wet-bulb temperature /K

300.55

Outlet water temperature /K

Droplet equivalent diameter /m

0.005

Reference values

38286.0

314.15

305.05

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

4. Validation

For validating the grid-independence and creditability of simulation results, the NDWCT is

investigated with field test data listed in Table 1 under no crosswind condition.

Table 2 presents the calculated values of temperature drop T and evaporation rate q for coarse

grid and fine grid. The total sum difference of two grid systems is less than 2%, indicating the coarse

grid simulation results have good grid-independence.

Table 2. Calculated values of water temperature drop and evaporation rate in all zones.

Field total

Coarse grid651,328 grid cells

Fine grid1,114,816 grid cells

temperature

Spray Fill

Rain

Total

Spray Fill

Rain

Total

drop

zone

zone

zone

sum

zone

zone

zone

sum

T / K

0.352 5.904

3.068

9.324

0.332 5.705 3.144

9.181

9.1

q / kg s-1 5.673

95.044 51.836 152.553 5.359 92

52.784 150.143

With coarse grid, the calculated total T is 9.324 K, which has a difference of less than 2.5% with

field test data. The calculated temperature drop T in fill zone accounts for 63.317% of the total

calculated temperature drop T , which is reported about 60%~70% [9].The calculated total

evaporation q is 152.553 kg s -1 and accounts for 1.446% of the total hot water spray rate which is

reported about 1.5% [11] under this conditions.

All the above analyses ensure that the simulation results with coarse grid has good gridindependence and creditability and can be applied to analyze the heat and mass transfer process in the

NDWCT.

5. Numerical results under crosswind conditions

The crosswind effect is investigated with the parameters listed in Table 1. Figure 5 presents the

influence trend of crosswind on water temperature drop T , which is accord with the experimental

impact trend as shown in Figure 6 [12] in general.

Figure 6.

crosswind.

Experimental

total

under

Without crosswind, the total temperature drop T is the maximum. Along with the velocity

increasing from 0 to 4 m s -1 , the total temperature drop T decreases from 9.324 to 6.725K for the

loss of additional driving force in the tower top under crosswind effect [9]. However, the water

temperature drop in rain zone increases from 3.068 to 3.852 K. The water temperature drop in fill zone

decreases strongly from 5.904 to 2.638 K as the crosswind velocity increases from 0 to 4 m s -1 , for

the average perpendicular velocity across the fill zone decreasing from 1.048 to 0.683 m s -1 .

Crosswind has a positive effect on the rain zone cooling performance when crosswind velocity less

5

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

than 15 m s -1 , and also has a positive effect on the fill zone cooling performance when crosswind

velocity higher than 9 m s -1 . Above 5 m s -1 , the crosswind begins to benefit the hot water

temperature drop.

4 m s-1

4 m s-1

traces in the z=7m cross-section of rain zone

4 m s-1

traces in the symmetry face of rain zone

contours in the z=7 m cross-section of rain zone.

4 m s-1

contours in the symmetry face of rain zone

Figure 7 and 8 show air stream traces in the z=7 m cross-section of rain zone under 4 m s -1

crosswind, and suggest that locations with high air-water mass flow rate ratio have good cooling

performance in general.

Under the effect of 4 m s -1 crosswind, Figure 7 and 9 indicate that the minimum water temperature

is located at the bottom of tower leeward side. This is mainly because that there is not eddy zone

existing in the inlet upper edge of tower leeward side unlike the tower windward side with eddy zone

as the stream traces shown in Figure 9 and 10. Figure 9 and 10 also indicate that locations with high

air-water mass flow rate ratio have good cooling performance in general.

6. Conclusion

According to the validations and analyses, the established mathematical and physical models can be

used to simulate the heat and mass transfer process in wet cooling tower.

The crosswind effect on the water temperature drop in each zone indicates that the crosswind has a

significant nonlinear effect on wet cooling tower performance. Under the investigated conditions, the

rain zone cooling performance is affected positively when crosswind less than 15 m s -1 , and the fill

zone heat and mass transfer intensity is affected from negatively to positively with 9 m s -1 as the

turning point for variation in air-water mass flow rate ratio distribution and local air-water temperature

difference and moisture difference. The tower performance varies from the optimum to the worst

when crosswind rising from 0 to 4 m s -1 and is improved again when crosswind higher than 5 m s -1 .

Some contours of water temperature and air-water mass flow rate ratio indicate that locations with

high air-water mass flow rate ratio have good cooling performance in general.

Acknowledgement

Journal of Physics: Conference Series 96 (2008) 012058

IOP Publishing

doi:10.1088/1742-6596/96/1/012058

The authors would like to thank the financial support provided by National Basic Research Program of

PR China (Grant No: 2007CB206900) and Natural Science Foundation of Shandong, PR China (Grant

No: Z2003F03)

References:

[1] Li Y, Zhang C and Zhu J 2006 Int. J. Nonlinear Sci. 7 357

[2] Ning J G, Wang C and Ma T B 2006 . Int. J. Nonlinear Sci. 7 71

[3] Su M D, Tang G F and Fu S 1999 J. Wind. Eng. Ind. Aerod. 79 289

[4] Al-Waked R and Behnia M 2004 Int. J. Energ. Res. 28 147

[5] Zhai Z and Fu S 2006 Appl. Therm. Eng. 26 1008

[6] Hawlader M N A and Liu B M 2002 Appl. Therm. Eng. 22 41

[7] Zhao S A, Liao N P and Xu M 2003 J. Hydraul. Eng. (in Chinese) 10 26

[8] Al-Waked R and Behnia M 2006 Appl. Therm. Eng. 26 382

[9] Zhao Z G 2001 Cooling Tower (Beijing: China Water Power Press)

[10] Kloppers J C and Krger D G 2005 T Int. J. Therm. Sci. 44 879

[11] Shi Y J 1990 Operation and Experiments of Cooling Tower (Beijing: China Water Power Press)

[12] Cheng Y H 2007 Research on Basic Performance and Influence of Wind of Natural Draft

Counter-flow Wet Cooling Towers (Jinan, China: Shandong University)

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