Understanding the General Design of Cooling Towers

Posted on: 2 November 2016

The use of cooling towers in industrial facilities such as power stations, food processing plants, and petrochemical plants is commonplace. During industrial applications, cooling towers are used to absorb the excess heat that is usually produced. But that does not mean the use of cooling towers is only restricted to industrial applications, as these cooling systems are also used to provide cooled water for residential and commercial air-conditioning. However, unlike industrial facilities, which usually use an in-house team of engineers and technicians to install and maintain their cooling towers, many homeowners and businesses in Australia are oblivious to the overall design and general operation of their cooling tower installations. This is because residential and commercial users often have to outsource the services of professionals to help them design, install and maintain their cooling towers. Nonetheless, it is important for all cooling tower users to be acquainted with the general design of their installation.

Here are some structural components you ought to learn about so you can better familiarise yourself with the general design of your residential or commercial cooling tower installation.

  1. Hot water distribution system: This refers to all components of your cooling tower starting with the inlet connection that supplies the hot circulating water into the tower. They may consist of nozzles, laterals, headers, distribution basins, branch arms and flow-regulating devices.
  2. Cold water basin: This basin collects the cooled water that flows through the cooling tower fill. It may be placed at or close to the bottom of the tower, but it must be below the fill so that the water can collect. Hence, it serves as the primary foundation of the tower. The cooling tower pump can only take suction once the cooled water has been collected in the basin. Typically, the cold water basin contains a sump or low-point to allow for the release of cold water.
  3. Fill: Cooling tower fill is designed to improve the cooling efficiency of cooling tower systems by providing maximum contact surface between air and water. There are two basic types of fill available on the market: splash-type and film-type. Splash-type fill redistributes hot water and interferes with its vertical flow, by causing it to pass through successive layers of parallel (horizontal) splash trays. This causes the water to break up into small drips, thus increasing the surface area for contact between air and water. Film-type fill, on the other hand, facilitates maximum exposure to air flow by causing the hot water to spread and form a thin film as it flows down into the cold water basin. The choice of an appropriate fill for your application is based upon the design requirements of your particular application.
  4. Cooling fans: They comprise all the fans used to provide airflow within the cooling tower. These fans are designed to move large amounts of air, and with minimum vibration. They include propeller fans, centrifugal fans and automatic variable-pitch fans.