Cooling Towers and Preventive Industry Maintenance

Cooling Towers and Preventive Industry MaintenanceHaving a cooling tower is one effective way to help maintain normal temperatures in large structures such as shopping malls, power plants, oil refineries, and water treatment systems. Cooling towers provide cooled water for manufacturing, electric power generation, and air conditioning use. These towers range in size depending on the structures that require them. Industrial-size towers are designed to handle large amounts of water and have pipes up to five meters in diameter. The Cooling Technology Institute provides more detail in this online article.

Most industries require the use of cooling towers 24/7, and sometimes, maintenance becomes an issue. When towers are in need of repair or replacement, companies might be best advised to look for cooling tower rental services to fill the gap in operations and ensure that industry processes continue without a hitch.

Use and importance

Most cooling towers are overlooked because these are always used in conjunction with chillers. Chillers typically get more airtime because these consume more energy while in use. Operators fail to realize that without the support of cooling towers, unwanted heat from chillers will mix with or transfer to another area.

A cooling tower helps lower the temperature by evaporative heat rejection. Part of the water being cooled is allowed to evaporate into an air stream, providing the rest of the water stream with a considerably lower temperature than the ambient temperature. Cooling towers are actually more cost-effective and energy-efficient than other devices that do not employ evaporative heat rejection (such as dry coolers), especially for large, industrial structures such as power plants.

Maintenance issues

It is important to keep cooling towers in top condition because a polluted tower may result in a reduced cooling capacity, which is a factor in long-term reliability. In an industrial setting, a broken pipe may lead to operations being shut down for an indefinite period of time, affecting output and costing thousands of dollars in repair and lost revenue.

One of the problems encountered with cooling towers is scale formation. Scaling is caused by a build-up of mineral content from both air and water concentrations. The scaling causes clogging in the pipes, affecting the flow of air or water, and significantly reducing the system’s capacity. When this happens, the system would need to be shut down and the affected areas cleaned or replaced. Corrosion is yet another problem and is caused by the dissolving of metal over time. Oxidation is another complication; it will eat up whatever metal is left and will soon break the whole operation down.

Performing preventive maintenance

These situations can be avoided by performing a regularly scheduled maintenance. Preventive maintenance for industrial cooling towers should be undertaken annually. In addition to checking for scale formation, corrosion, and oxidation, maintenance work includes checking the state of water pipes and other equipment for contamination, and minimizing the risk of Legionella and other bacteria from forming in the system.

Apart from the annual comprehensive maintenance check, a quarterly inspection can also be beneficial to the system. It is necessary to identify the hazards and possible treatment options, such as automation (blowing down of the system to control pH or other chemical build-up), water modelling (use of software to predict the optimal usage and deterioration rates of the tower), and employing green chemistries (use of naturally-occurring solutions to lessen the environmental impact). Proper and regular maintenance can also increase the efficiency of coolants, leading to long-term reliability.

For a more in depth understanding of Cooling Towers, the US Department of Energy has detailed documentation.

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