Cooling towers are a vital component in modern infrastructure. Industries needs them for all sorts of purposes. But do you know what they are?
In this post, we find out. We take a look at several common cooling tower applications why these structures are needed by industry.
Cooling towers are used in power generation, as we discuss below. But that is not their only application. What’s more, they’re not just made of concrete. You can get fiberglass reinforced polymer and wood versions too. Cooling towers are built for the specific application, so the material they are made of depends on the use case.
So, which industries need cooling towers and why?
Geothermal Power Plants
Conventional power generation requires cooling towers to process and extract excess heat from burning coal, oil, gas and biomass. However, interestingly, cooling towers are also required in geothermal power applications.
Each geothermal project requires bespoke towers that fit into the overall design of the system. In the case of a power plant, cooling towers are often necessary for processing excess heat that comes up from the ground. They also make these plants more efficient and durable.
Petrochemical companies regularly crack saturated hydrocarbons and convert them into smaller, non-saturated hydrocarbons. This process uses steam and, because of that, generates a lot of excess heat.
Firms in the industry, therefore, install cooling towers to transfer excess energy away from the plant itself and into the atmosphere. Most cracking complexes run their cooling towers 24-hours a day while in operation.
Cooling towers are often required for supplemental water flows designed for underground chambers. They work by allowing water to evaporate that comes up from deeper in the mine.
Fertilizer plants require specialty cooling towers capable of withstanding contact with highly acidic compounds. Towers for these applications are typically made of fiberglass-reinforced polymer and manufactured off-site before being transported and installed. Many are “forced draft,” which means that they keep much of the mechanical equipment out of the air stream.
Refining crude oil into different fractions requires a lot of energy. Oil must first be heated and then distilled in a fractionating tower.
Because of the amount of energy required for this process, cooling towers are often necessary at refineries. Again, these allow water to evaporate, removing excess heat from the system in a loop. Most systems rely on freshwater drawn from nearby rivers or lakes.
Power generation is the classic cooling tower application. There are many different designs available, including low noise, low foul fill, film fill, and splash fill.
The majority of cooling towers in this category are counterflow. These have low power consumption and high performance with minimal maintenance. While concrete is the material of choice, wood and fiberglass are also options.
In rare cases, HVACs and heavy industry may also need cooling towers for efficient operation. Towers help to extract more heat from the system than could be achieved through conventional passive or fan-based systems alon
Interesting Related Article: “How to Reduce the Operating Costs of Your Cooling Tower this Summer“