What are cooling towers? Although the majority of Americans can only point them out (and some can’t even do that much), cooling towers serve a very important purpose. Without cooling towers, the oil refineries, chemical plants, and thermochemical plants that power homes and buildings may pose a very real threat to the environment — and to the U.S. population. Even large heating and cooling systems could become a very real problem.
How Do Cooling Towers Keep Us Safe?
What is a cooling tower? How does it prevent oil refineries and chemical plants from endangering those around them? Simply put, these oil manufacturers and chemical plants release toxic heat waste into the atmosphere. Cooling towers diffuse this heat waste, typically by cooling steam or hot water waste. There are several different types of cooling towers. Some, called wet cooling towers, use water and evaporation to cool heat waste; a dry cooling tower or a closed circuit cooling tower uses air to cool hot liquid waste. The latter work by cooling this potentially harmful fluid to wet-bulb air temperature.
What About Freezing Weather?
When a structure or mechanism relies on cold water or cold air to help diffuse and eliminate heat waste, there are a few reasonable questions. One of these questions is what happens in freezing cold weather. How do these structures — especially wet cooling towers — stay sound and stay in operation? It may depend on the company or cooling tower in question. Some, to simplify matters, operate on a seasonal basis. Others have several mechanisms and protections in place to make certain that operations go smoothly year-round. For example, some towers may have special air control systems to limit or alter air to prevent water from freezing.
Very few Americans realize that we rely on cooling towers, including open and closed circuit cooling towers, to reduce and eliminate potentially hazardous heat waste each and every day.