Understanding the Functions and Types of Cooling Towers

14 August 2020

Most commercial or industrial buildings utilise cooling towers in expelling heat into the atmosphere from these properties. Cooling towers are a special type of heat rejection device that eliminates heat through permitting water and air to come in. They can either use the process of water evaporation or just rely on air to cool down the working fluid.

The functionality and efficiency of cooling towers would typically depend on the condition of their components. With regular repairs and maintenance, these heat rejection devices can easily grant buildings with more regulated temperatures. Some of the components that are typically found in cooling towers include gearboxes, fill media, drift reducers, fans, nozzles, driveshafts, air intake louvers, reservoir heaters, and valves. 

The Whole Cooling Process

To better understand the functions of cooling towers, you must know first how they work. Most of the time, cooling towers will initially receive warm water from the chiller. This water, which is also known as condenser water, will be cooled down by the components of the tower.

The warm condenser water will pass through some nozzles that will help them get sprayed into small droplets in the fill media. This specific process increases the surface area of water and allows heat loss through evaporation. The fans located on top of the cooling tower will subsequently bring in air from the bottom of the tower. As the fans direct the air to move up, the air will take the unwanted heat from this whole process before going into the atmosphere.

Functions of Cooling Towers

As previously stated, one of the main functions of cooling towers is to remove the heat from the building. Power plants, petroleum refineries, and numerous manufacturing facilities utilise these cooling towers to optimise their whole production processes. Shopping centres, universities, and hospitals also use them for this specific function.

Another function of the cooling towers is to integrate themselves with heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These towers can easily pair up and subsequently remove any heat from chillers or condensers. As long as they are maintained regularly, these cooling towers can easily operate safely and efficiently. 

Types of Cooling Towers

Cooling towers can be categorised by their build and method of heat transfer.

Under the build category, there are two types of cooling towers that one can choose from. One type of cooling tower under this category is the package type cooling towers. These cooling towers are pre-assembled and compact, which makes their whole transfer and installation process easier. Most shells of these towers can resist heat, corrosion, and other damaging elements. Field erection type, on the other hand, is larger than the previous one. These cooling towers are customised to fit processing plants.

Cooling towers under the heat transfer method categorisation include dry cooling towers, wet cooling towers, and fluid cooling towers. Dry cooling towers work by moving heat through a surface from ambient air. Wet cooling towers, on the other hand, use water to cool a specific facility. Their heat transfer is determined by the drop in the process temperature and an increase in moisture content and wet bulb temperature. Fluid cooling towers, ultimately, combine water with glycol to form a fluid that will circulate throughout the tower. The fluid from these towers does not leave any impurities to the system, making them suitable for places that must be clean all the time. Understanding the functions and types of cooling towers allows you to choose and pick the best one for you. Knowing these things also allows you to appreciate the processes behind cooling a whole building.

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