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How does a cooling tower work ?

March 02, 2021 0 Comments

How does a cooling tower work ?


How does a cooling tower work ?

A cooling tower is a heat rejection device that rejects waste heat to the atmosphere through the cooling of a 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 include cooling the circulating water used in oil refineries, petrochemical and other chemical plants, thermal power stations, nuclear power stations and 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.
Cooling towers vary in size from small roof-top units to very large hyperboloid structures (as in the adjacent image) that can be up to 200 meters (660 ft) tall and 100 meters (330 ft) in diameter, or rectangular structures that can be over 40 meters (130 ft) tall and 80 meters (260 ft) long. 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.

Lakewood Instruments 1575e
Cooling towers originated in the 19th century through the development of condensers for use with the steam engine. Condensers use relatively cool water, via various means, to condense the steam coming out of the cylinders or turbines. This reduces the back pressure, which in turn reduces the steam consumption, and thus the fuel consumption, while at the same time increasing power and recycling boiler-water.[3] However the condensers require an ample supply of cooling water, without which they are impractical. The consumption of cooling water by inland processing and power plants is estimated to reduce power availability for the majority of thermal power plants by 2040–2069. While water usage is not an issue with marine engines, it forms a significant limitation for many land-based systems.
By the turn of the 20th century, several evaporative methods of recycling cooling water were in use in areas lacking an established water supply, as well as in urban locations where municipal water mains may not be of sufficient supply; reliable in times of demand; or otherwise adequate to meet cooling needs. In areas with available land, the systems took the form of cooling ponds; in areas with limited land, such as in cities, they took the form of cooling towers.
These early towers were positioned either on the rooftops of buildings or as free-standing structures, supplied with air by fans or relying on natural airflow. An American engineering textbook from 1911 described one design as "a circular or rectangular shell of light plate—in effect, a chimney stack much shortened vertically (20 to 40 ft. high) and very much enlarged laterally. At the top is a set of distributing troughs, to which the water from the condenser must be pumped; from these it trickles down over "mats" made of wooden slats or woven wire screens, which fill the space within the tower."
A hyperboloid cooling tower was patented by the Dutch engineers Frederik van Iterson and Gerard Kuypers in 1918. The first hyperboloid cooling towers were built in 1918 near Heerlen. The first ones in the United Kingdom were built in 1924 at Lister Drive power station in Liverpool, England, to cool water used at a coal-fired electrical power station.

Seko AML 200

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
An HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) cooling tower is used to dispose of ("reject") unwanted heat from a chiller. Water-cooled chillers are normally more energy efficient than air-cooled chillers due to heat rejection to tower water at or near wet-bulb temperatures. Air-cooled chillers must reject heat at the higher dry-bulb temperature, and thus have a lower average reverse-Carnot cycle effectiveness. In areas with a hot climate, large office buildings, hospitals, and schools typically use one or more cooling towers as part of their air conditioning systems. Generally, industrial cooling towers are much larger than HVAC towers. HVAC use of a cooling tower pairs the cooling tower with a water-cooled chiller or water-cooled condenser. A ton of air-conditioning is defined as the removal of 12,000 British thermal units per hour (3,500 W). The equivalent ton on the cooling tower side actually rejects about 15,000 British thermal units per hour (4,400 W) due to the additional waste heat-equivalent of the energy needed to drive the chiller's compressor. This equivalent ton is defined as the heat rejection in cooling 3 US gallons per minute (11 liters per minute) or 1,500 pounds per hour (680 kg/h) of water 10 °F (6 °C), which amounts to 15,000 British thermal units per hour (4,400 W), assuming a chiller coefficient of performance (COP) of 4.0. This COP is equivalent to an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 14.
Cooling towers are also used in HVAC systems that have multiple water source heat pumps that share a common piping water loop. In this type of system, the water circulating inside the water loop removes heat from the condenser of the heat pumps whenever the heat pumps are working in the cooling mode, then the externally mounted cooling tower is used to remove heat from the water loop and reject it to the atmosphere. By contrast, when the heat pumps are working in heating mode, the condensers draw heat out of the loop water and reject it into the space to be heated. When the water loop is being used primarily to supply heat to the building, the cooling tower is normally shut down (and may be drained or winterized to prevent freeze damage), and heat is supplied by other means, usually from separate boilers.

Industrial Cooling Towers
Industrial cooling towers can be used to remove heat from various sources such as machinery or heated process material. The primary use of large, industrial cooling towers is to remove the heat absorbed in the circulating cooling water systems used in power plants, petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, natural gas processing plants, food processing plants, semi-conductor plants, and for other industrial facilities such as in condensers of distillation columns, for cooling liquid in crystallization, etc. The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic meters an hour (315,000 US gallons per minute) and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic meters an hour, equivalent to one cubic meter every second).
If that same plant had no cooling tower and used once-through cooling water, it would require about 100,000 cubic meters an hour. A large cooling water intake typically kills millions of fish and larvae annually, as the organisms are impinged on the intake screens. A large amount of water would have to be continuously returned to the ocean, lake or river from which it was obtained and continuously re-supplied to the plant. Furthermore, discharging large amounts of hot water may raise the temperature of the receiving river or lake to an unacceptable level for the local ecosystem. Elevated water temperatures can kill fish and other aquatic organisms (see thermal pollution), or can also cause an increase in undesirable organisms such as invasive species of zebra mussels or algae. A cooling tower serves to dissipate the heat into the atmosphere instead and wind and air diffusion spreads the heat over a much larger area than hot water can distribute heat in a body of water. Evaporative cooling water cannot be used for subsequent purposes (other than rain somewhere), whereas surface-only cooling water can be re-used. Some coal-fired and nuclear power plants located in coastal areas do make use of once-through ocean water. But even there, the offshore discharge water outlet requires very careful design to avoid environmental problems.
Petroleum refineries also have very large cooling tower systems. A typical large refinery processing 40,000 metric tons of crude oil per day (300,000 barrels (48,000 m3) per day) circulates about 80,000 cubic meters of water per hour through its cooling tower system.
The world's tallest cooling towers are the two 202 meters (663 ft) tall cooling towers of Kalisindh Thermal Power Station in Jhalawar, Rajasthan, India.


Package type
These types of cooling towers are factory preassembled, and can be simply transported on trucks, as they are compact machines. The capacity of package type towers is limited and, for that reason, they are usually preferred by facilities with low heat rejection requirements such as food processing plants, textile plants, some chemical processing plants, or buildings like hospitals, hotels, malls, automotive factories etc.
Due to their frequent use in or near residential areas, sound level control is a relatively more important issue for package type cooling towers.

Field erected type
Facilities such as power plants, steel processing plants, petroleum refineries, or petrochemical plants usually install field erected type cooling towers due to their greater capacity for heat rejection. Field erected towers are usually much larger in size compared to the package type cooling towers.
A typical field erected cooling tower has a pultruded fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) structure, FRP cladding, a mechanical unit for air draft, and a drift eliminator.

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