Cooling Towers

A cooling tower rejects waste heat to the atmosphere through with a cooling water stream to a lower temperature. Cooling towers may either use the evaporation of water to remove process heat and cool the working fluid to near the wet-bulb air temperature or, in the case of closed circuit dry cooling towers, rely solely on air to cool the working fluid to near the dry-bulb air temperature.


Common applications:

Oil Refineries

Petrochemical and other chemical plants

Thermal power stations

HVAC systems for cooling buildings

The classification is based on the type of air induction into the tower: the main types of cooling towers are natural draft and induced draft cooling towers. The hyperboloid cooling towers are often associated with nuclear power plants, although they are also used in some coal-fired plants and to some extent in some large chemical and other industrial plants. Although these large towers are very prominent, the vast majority of cooling towers are much smaller, including many units installed on or near buildings to discharge heat from air conditioning.


Treatments: Besides treating the circulating cooling water in large industrial cooling tower systems to minimize scaling and fouling, the water should be filtered to remove particulates, and also be dosed with biocides and algaecide to prevent growths that could interfere with the continuous flow of the water. Under certain conditions, a biofilm of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae can grow very rapidly in the cooling water, and can reduce the heat transfer efficiency of the cooling tower. Biofilm can be reduced or prevented by using chlorine or other chemicals. A normal industrial practice is to use two biocides, such as oxidizing and non-oxidizing types to complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, and to ensure a broader spectrum of attack.


Legionnaires' disease (or Legionella pneumophila)

Another very important reason for using biocides in cooling towers is to prevent the growth of Legionella, including species that cause Legionnaires' disease, most notably L. pneumophila, or Mycobacterium avium. The various Legionella species are the cause of Legionnaires' disease in humans and transmission is via exposure to aerosols—the inhalation of mist droplets containing the bacteria. Common sources of Legionella include cooling towers used in open recirculating evaporative cooling water systems, domestic hot water systems, fountains, and similar disseminators that tap into a public water supply. Natural sources include freshwater ponds and creeks.


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