It takes a lot of energy to power our modern world. Most of this energy, whether nuclear, gas, or electric, produces massive amounts of heat as a bi-product. For the safety of workers, machinery, and the environment, this excess heat must be removed and tamed. This is why we often see those big chimney-looking towers in many industrial areas. These are cooling towers, and their purpose is exactly what their name entails. They cool things down, reducing energy costs, increasing efficiency, and keeping people safe.
How Cooling Towers Work
There isn’t just one type of cooling tower, but they all work to achieve the same goal. There are two major components to a cooling tower’s process: air and water. Heated excess water from a plant is pumped into the top of the cooling tower, which is then distributed evenly into a fill. The larger the surface area of this water, the faster evaporation and cooling occurs. As the water turns into vapor, additional water from a make-up line replenishes the lost water, maintaining a steady supply. The process then repeats continuously. Natural draft cooling towers, as they sound, rely on natural air processes to cool the water inside. Mechanical draft cooling towers use powerful fans to circulate air through the tower, which is more efficient but also more costly.
Many Shapes, Sizes, and Materials
Some cooling towers are gigantic. The facilities at the Kalisindh Thermal Power Station in India, for instance, require a tower that is 663 feet tall! This is the tallest cooling tower in the world today. But despite the stereotypical massive chimneys we normally think of when discussing cooling towers, not every facility requires something so enormous. Some modern plants have shifted to small cooling towers to save money and reduce negative environmental impact. Carl Pendola of Penco Equipment Inc., for example, has developed a compact cooling system for industries with remote cooling facilities (See: http://www.wwdmag.com/industrial/1-2-punch-compact-cooling for more information).
These towers, whatever their size, must be durable and long-lasting. This is why material matters. In the past, most cooling towers manufacturers used wood or steel to construct their cooling towers, but these materials are prone to all sorts of environmental wear and tear, such as burning, rotting, and rusting. Today, some cooling towers manufacturers, such as Delta Cooling Towers, use corrosion-proof plastic for their towers, called high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This material does not rust or chip, thus needing little maintenance.
The best cooling towers manufacturers are constantly innovating, finding new and better ways to increase efficiency, reduce cost, and ensure safety. Now that you know a bit about how these important machines work, how they’re used, and what they’re made of, the next time you drive past one of those big chimneys you can impress your friends with your knowledge of cooling towers!