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Counter Flow vs. Cross Flow Cooling Towers: What are the Differences?

04 November 2019

Many commercial and industrial businesses perform their daily operations on buildings and facilities. Since these buildings have to deal with people every day, the air being circulated on these structures may get alarmingly warm. This is why most business owners spend money for an efficient cooling system around their vicinity for the sake of their employees and the quality of their products and services. In some industries, the cooling system even has a significant role in the manufacturing process of products.

One common way to reduce the temperature of a building or facility is by installing cooling towers. Cooling towers help expel unnecessary heat of the building out to the atmosphere. Air usually enters the sides of these towers and passes through the water collected from the chiller. As the air passes through the water, a small amount of water evaporates while the remaining water is cooled. The by-products of the cooling tower, such as evaporated water and heat, are released at the top of the tower in mist form. The cooled water, however, is brought back to the chiller for another cooling cycle or consumption by the building.

Cooling towers have different sizes to cater to the needs of businesses. Facilities like schools and hospitals may have to use small rooftop-sized cooling towers to maintain temperature at all times. Industries dealing with oil refineries, chemical plants, and nuclear power stations require building-sized cooling towers to keep everything functional. 

Aside from sizes, cooling towers also vary in design configurations. Based on the flow direction of water and air, cooling towers can be classified into two: counter flow cooling tower and cross flow cooling tower.

Counter Flow Cooling Tower

In a counter flow cooling tower, the air flows vertically upward while the water falls. This is possible because of an induced draught fan that is attached to the motor located on top of the tower. Upon the entry of the air, the fan will immediately pull it upward to cross the fill and ultimately leave the tower. The water, on the other hand, falls onto the fill through pressurized pipe-type spray systems near the top of the tower.

One of the advantages of a counter flow cooling tower is that it can yield maximum tower performance. The design of this tower makes it possible to filter the driest air and coldest water needed for the cooling process. Another good thing about this tower is that it is compact and fully closed. This eliminates the exposure of the tower’s internal components to sunlight and other external variables.

However, one major drawback of this tower is that it has high operating and maintenance costs. This kind of tower has limited internal accessibility and intricate internal components, which requires help from external service providers.

Cross Flow Cooling Tower

For a cross flow cooling tower, water falls down perpendicularly to the direction of the air. This means that the air flows through the fills horizontally, then rising upward to meet the water at a 90-degree angle. This tower uses splash type fillings that are best for water that has higher suspended particles.

Unlike counter flow cooling towers, cross flow cooling tower is designed with accessibility in mind. This tower offers full access to its components, making necessary adjustments and replacements possible and easier.  Moreover, this tower distributes water equally, which prevents icing and freezing problems that are common to counter flow cooling towers. Finally, a cross flow cooling tower consumes less power.

A cross flow cooling tower also has its limitations. The kind of tower is more prone to dirt and other external materials since it is open and is larger than the counter flow cooling tower. Another disadvantage of the tower is the non-compatibility of its film type fills. No matter what business you are in, obtaining your cooling towers will help your business bloom for a long time. With us here at Protector Air Care, we can do installation and maintenance services for your air conditioning, filtration, and cooling system needs.  We ensure that you receive the most economical solutions for your businesses.

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