How to improve the efficiency of your cooling tower

Cooling towers are an essential part of your facility. There isn’t any other machinery that can remove heat as efficiently and cost-effectively as your tower. But in the bustle of factory life, the maintenance of your cooling tower can go by the wayside – and that can affect its efficiency.  

Marley Flow Control is one of Australia’s leading cooling tower manufacturers, suppliers, and repair technicians. Australian-owned and operated, we have the experience to deliver the right solution for your cooling tower needs.

Having high-performing equipment is essential to the production of your facility. As industry leaders, we have a high level of expertise and can provide a wide range of cooling tower services. We also can advise on the smooth operation and performance of your tower. 

Read on to learn how to improve the efficiency of your cooling tower.

What is a cooling tower?

A cooling tower is a specialised device that discharges heat waste into the atmosphere. This process is done by drawing cool air over the surface of the water. Small amounts of water then evaporate, which lowers the temperature of the water running through the tower. 

Cooling towers are used to lower the temperature of the circulating hot water from the condenser or any other heat exchanger. The cooled down water is then ready to be pumped around again back to the heat exchangers.

How does a cooling tower work?

Firstly, hot water is distributed over the top of the cooling tower. Nozzles spray the water over the cooling fill – a medium used in towers to increase its surface area. This exposes the water to ambient, cool air.

Using several large fans, cold air is rushed past the warm water, causing some water to evaporate. This evaporation process is what cools the water. The heat leftover is then transferred from the water stream to the air stream, raising the temperature and humidity. The hot air is then released into the atmosphere, leaving behind cooled water. 

The water is then collected at the bottom of the tower, ready for the pumps to recirculate cold water through the system again.

What does efficiency mean? 

Before discussing how to improve your cooling tower efficiency, it’s important to understand what ‘efficiency’ means. After all, it can have many different meanings depending on the context.

In this case, being efficient relates to the tower running at its full potential capacity. For example, your facility will change and evolve over time. It may have expanded, or maybe you’ve had to downsize. It’s easy to forget to upgrade your cooling tower during all these changes, leaving you with a tower that is either too big or too small for your needs. A right-sized tower for your facility will run more efficiently, therefore saving you money and energy.  

Efficiency and logic are very closely related. If your tower is operated in a logical way, it will be more efficient. For instance, the tower’s fans need to be manipulated to achieve the right balance of energy savings. During winter, the fans may be operating more slowly. In summer, the fans will need to be on high speed. Depending on the external conditions is how fast you run the fans. If the fans aren’t running correctly, your facility’s energy consumption will be affected. 

Why is increasing my cooling tower’s efficiency important?

To put it simply, increasing your cooling tower’s efficiency will not only improve your business operations but will lower your process cost too.

When a tower isn’t working at its full potential, the water temperature increases, causing the heat exchanger to heat up. This produces less product and increases energy costs. In other words, the warmer the tower is, the less efficient production operations will be. The cooler the tower is, the more efficient the process will be.

How do I increase my cooling tower’s efficiency?

There are several things you can do to improve the efficiency of your cooling tower. From changing the cooling fill to repairing the spray, maintaining your tower will enhance your facility’s overall operation. 

Monitor the cooling fill

When it comes to cooling fills, several issues can affect your tower’s efficiency:

  • The wrong type of fill – If you haven’t upgraded your cooling tower to meet your facility’s needs, it may not have a high-efficiency type of fill. A simple update of your fill can have your tower running back to its full potential.
  • The fill is clogged – Cooling towers use all kinds of water in their cooling process, so it’s crucial to use the right fill suitable for your water conditions. Water laced with sediment or nutrients can clog the fill, causing the tower to run inefficiently. Remember to clear the fill of any blockages or build-up.
  • The volume of the fill is wrong – Review the size of your cooling tower to ensure that it has the optimum capability. 

Modify the operating regime

Your facility is constantly growing and evolving. The same control logic that worked years ago may not be suitable today. Review and modify your operating regime to ensure the efficiency of your cooling tower. 

With your cooling towers, the number and speed of the tower’s fans should always match the optimum balance point of the fan consumption and the cold water temperature. Ambient air temperature and the temperature outside always need to be considered to maintain an efficient cooling tower. Essentially, your fans should run at a rate that reflects the outside conditions.

Repair or replace parts

Just like any machine, cooling towers can break down if not properly maintained. Monitor, replace or repair the following parts to keep your tower running efficiently:

  • Fan
  • Gearbox or belt drive
  • Fan cylinders 
  • Inlet louvres 
  • Nozzles or water distribution system 
  • Fill
  • Drift eliminators

Find out how we can use our engineering experience to help find the right solution for your business needs. Contact us here for a free quote.