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Cooling Towers, The Neglected Energy Resource
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Loving care is paid to the compressors, condensers, and computer programs of refrigeration and air conditioning systems. When problems arise, operators and engineers run around in circles with expensive "fixes" , but historically ignore the poor orphan of the system, the cooling tower perched on the roof or located somewhere in the backyard. When cooling water is too hot, high temperature cut-outs occur and more energy must be provided to the motors to maintain the refrigeration cycle. Cooling towers: 1) are just as important a link in the chain as the other equipment; 2) are an important source of energy conservation; 3) can be big money makers; 4) operators should be aware of the potential of maximising cold water. Most towers were designed over 20 years ago and were inefficiently engineered due to cheap power and the "low bidder gets the sale" syndrome. Operating energy costs were ignored and purchasing criteria was to award the contract to the lowest bidder. All too often the low bidder - even though some of the most respected firms were involved - cut thermal corners for the sale. This paper investigates the internal elements of the typical types of cooling towers currently used, delineates their functions and shows how to upgrade them in the real world for energy savings and profitability of operation. Hard before and after statistics of costs and profits obtained through optimization of colder water by engineered thermal upgrading will be discussed. Salient points will be reenforced with on-the-job, hands-on, slides and illustrations.
Burger, R. (1987). Cooling Towers, The Neglected Energy Resource. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.eslwin.tamu.edu). Available electronically from