Technical Services Department

COOLING TOWER
WHY WATER IS USED FOR COOLING ? Several factors make water an excellent coolant. 1. It is normally plentiful, readily available and inexpensive. 2. It is easily handled. 3. It can carry large amount of heat per unit volume. 4. It does not expand or compress significantly within normal encountered temperatures ranges. 5. It does not decompose. BASIC PRINCIPLE In a cooling tower, heat and mass transfer processes combine to cool the water. The mass transfer due to evaporation does consume water, but the amount of loss is very less. The heat-transfer process involves Ø Latent heat transfer owing to vaporization of a small portion of the water and Ø Sensible heat transfer owing to the difference in temperature of water and air. Approximately 80% of this heat removal per Kg of air circulated in a cooling tower depends on the temperature and moisture content of air. An indication of the moisture content of air is its wet-bulb temperature. Ideally, then, the wet-bulb temperature is the lowest theoretical temperature to which the water can be cooled. Practically, the cold water temperature approaches but does not equal the wet-bulb temperature of air in a cooling tower; this is so because it is impossible to contact all the water with fresh air as the water drops through the wetted fill surface to the basin.

APPROACH The difference between the wet bulb temperature of the ambient air and the water temperature leaving the tower is termed as “Approach”. The approach is a function of cooling tower capability; a large cooling tower will produce a closer approach (colder leaving water) for a given heat load, flow rate, and entering air condition. The magnitude of approach to the wet-bulb temperature is dependent on tower design. Important factor are… Ø Air-to-water contact time. Ø Amount of fill surface. Ø Breakup of water into droplets. In actual practice, cooling tower are seldom designed for approaches closer than 2.8 deg C.

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TYPES OF COOLING TOWER (A) NATURAL DRAFT TOWERS A cooling tower in which air movement is essentially dependent upon the difference in density between the entering air and internal air. The air leaving the stack is lighter than the ambient air, and a draft is created by chimney effect drawing fresh air at the base of the tower. Natural draft tower commo nly operate at air-pressure difference in the region of 0.2 in water gauge when under full load. The mean velocity of the air above the tower packing is generally about 1.2 to 1.8 m/s. The cooling in natural-draft tower is dependent upon the relative humidity as well as on the wet-bulb temperature. The draft will increase through the tower at high- humidity conditions because of the increase in available static pressure difference to promote air flow against internal resistance. Thus the higher the humidit y at a given wet bulb, the colder the outlet water will be for a given set of conditions. (B) MECHANICAL DRAFT TOWERS Two types of mechanical draft towers are in use today (1) FORCED DRAFT TOWER Here the fan is mounted at the base, and the air is forced in at the bottom and discharged at low velocity through the top. This arrangement has the advantage of locating the fan and drive outside the tower, where it is convenient of inspection, maintenance and repairs. Since the equipment is out of the hot, humid top area of the tower, the fan is not subjected to corrosive conditions. However, because of the low exit-air velocity, the forced-draft tower is subjected to excessive re-circulation of the humid exhaust vapours back into the air intakes. Since the wet-bulb temperature of the exhaust air is considerably above the wet-bulb temperature of the ambient air, there is a decrease in performance evidenced by an increase in cold (leaving) water temperature.

(2) INDUCED DRAFT TOWER In induced draft towers, air is drawn into the tower by a fan mounted at the top of the tower. This design permits more uniform internal distribution of air and avoids the problem of re-circulation of exhaust air into the tower. Induced draft tower is further classified into counter-flow and cross-flow design, depending on the relative flow directions of water and air. Thermodynamically, the counter- flow arrangement is more efficient, since the coldest water contacts the coldest air, thus obtaining maximum enthalpy potential. The cross-flow-tower can be characterized at very low approaches by increasing the air quantity. The increase in air flow is not necessarily achieved by increasing the air velocity but 2

Technical Services Department

primarily by lengthening the tower to increase the air- flow cross-sectional area. The economic choice between counter- flow and cross-flow is determined by the effectiveness of the fill, design condition, and the cost of the tower manufacture.

PERFORMANCE Performance of a cooling tower is usually expressed in “ 1GPM” cooled from a specified hot water temperature to a specified cold water temperature with a specific wet-bulb temperature. The performance of a cooling tower is governed by the ratio of the weights of air to water and the time of contact between water and air. In commercial practice, the variation in the ratio of air to water is first obtained by keeping the air velocity constant at about 350 ft2 / (min*ft2 of active tower area). As a secondary operation, air velocity is varied to make the tower accommodate the cooling requirement. Time of contact between water and air is governed largely by the time required for the water to discharge from the nozzles and fall through the tower to the basin. The time of contact is therefore obtained in a given type of unit by varying the height of the tower. The cooling performance of any tower containing a given depth of filling varies with the water concentration. It has been found that maximum contact and performance are obtained with a tower having a water concentration of 2 to 5 gal / min. per square feet of ground area. The required tower size is a function of the following. Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Cooling range. Approach to wet-bulb temperature. Quantity of water to be cooled. Air velocity through the cell. Tower height.

COOLING TOWER OPERATION Ø WATER MAKEUP Makeup water requirement for a cooling tower consists of the summation of evaporation loss, drift loss and blowdown Wm = Wc + Wd + Wb (consistent units m3/hr or gal/min) Wm = Make-up water. Wc = Evaporation loss. Wd = Drift loss. 3

Technical Services Department

Wb = Blowdown o Evaporation loss can be estimated by the following equation Wc = 0.00085 Wc(T1 – T2) Where, Wc = Circulating water flow, gal/min at tower inlet T1 – T2 = Inlet-water temperature minus outlet-water temperature, Deg F (Range)

o Drift is entrained water in the tower discharge vapours Drift loss typically varies between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of the water supply to the tower. Drift eliminator serves to remove entrained moisture from the discharged air. New developments in eliminator design make it possible to reduce drift loss below 0.1 %.

o BLOWDOWN Blowdown discards a portion of the concentrated circulating water due to the evaporation process in order to lower the system solids concentration. The average water loss by blowdown is 0.5 to 3 % of the circulating water. The amount of blowdown can be calculated according to the number of Cycles of Concentration (COC) required to limit scale formation. Cycle of concentration is the ratio of dissolved solids in the recirculating water to dissolved solids in the make-up water. Since chlorides remain soluble on concentration, cycles of concentration are best expressed as the ratio of the chloride content of the circulating and makeup waters. Thus Cycle of concentration = (Wc + Wb) / Wb And blowdown Wb = Wc / (COC – 1) Cycle of concentration involved with cooling tower operation normally range from three to five cycles. Below three cycles of concentration excessive blowdown quantities are required and the addition of chemicals to limit scale formation should be considered 4

Technical Services Department

COOLING TOWER PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS In cooling towers, the major causes for concern are delignification (loss of the binding agent for the cellulose) caused by the use of oxidizing biocides, such as chlorine, excessive bicarbonate alkalinity, biological growth, which can clog the nozzles and foul the heat exchange equipment, corrosion of the metal components, general fouling by a combination of silt, clay, oil and precipitation of salts or oxides on surfaces. The treatment techniques to prevent these conditions from occurring are listed in the table below

PROBLEM Wood deterioration Biological growth

FACTORS Microbiological Chemical Temperature Nutrients pH Inocula Suspended solids Water Velocity Temperature Contaminants Metal oxides Aeration PH Temperature Dissolved solids Galvanic couples

CAUSATIVE AGENT Cellulolytic fungus Chlorine Bacteria Fungi Algae

CORRECTIVE TREATMENT Fungicides Acid Chlorine Organic sulfurs Quaternary Ammonia Polyelectrolytes Polyacrylates Lignosulfonates Polyphosphates

General fouling

Silt oil

Corrosion

Oxygen Carbon dioxide

Scaling

Calcium Alkalinity Temperature pH

Calcium carbonate Calcium sulfate Magnesium silicate Ferric hydroxide

Chromate Zinc Polyphosphate Tannins Lignins Synthetic organic Compounds Phosphonate Polyphosphates Acid Polyelectrolytes

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Technical Services Department

OPTIMISATION The cooling tower is an air-to-water heat exchanger. The controlled variables are the supply and return water temperature, and the manipulated variables are the air and water flow rates. In most cooling tower design, pumps are frequently constant speed with three-way or bypass valves used to circulate the excess water, which should not have been pumped in the first place because the process does not require it. Meeting a variable load with a constant supply by wasting the excess is also frequently practiced in fan operation. In some installations, fan speeds cannot be changed at all which leads to high power consumption. As the rating of the tower fans and pumps usually adds up to several hundred horsepower, their yearly operating cost is in the lakhs of rupees. The cost of fan operation can be reduced by allowing the cooling tower temperature to rise, there by increasing the approach. If the actual total operating cost is plotted against approach, the fan costs tend to drop and the pumping costs tend to rise with an increase in approach. If the operating cost is also affected by cooling water temperature then the total cost model should also consider that effect. Once a total operating curve is f und the o optimum approach is that which corresponds to the minimum point on that curve. Fan operation can also be minimized by using variable speed motor, thus enabling to operate the fan at lower speed during winter. Similarly temperature controller can also be provided to minimize the fan operation.

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