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Keep Your Cool About Cooling Water

July 31, 2020
Enhance your knowledge about this essential utility

The height of the summer always provides a telling test to plants about the health of their cooling water systems. Unfortunately, lots of sites likely will struggle to maintain acceptable performance. Too often, cooling water systems don’t get adequate attention. One contributing factor is that chemical engineers rarely learn much about such systems beyond how to calculate heat transfer between the water and the heat transfer fluid or process stream.

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We at Chemical Processing have recognized this deficiency for some time and have striven to provide useful information about the selection, operation and care of cooling water systems.

For instance, most engineers probably find the choice of cooling tower fill somewhat mysterious because they lack background on the types of fill and their most appropriate application. So, fairly recently we ran a cover story “Understand the Importance of Correct Cooling Tower Fill,” that describes the different varieties of fill and underscores the primary role that the fouling tendencies of the water plays in selection.

Many plants located on coastlines rely on seawater for cooling. So, this issue’s article “Improve Treatment of Seawater for Cooling,”  offers guidance on how to minimize makeup and optimize seawater treatment programs. It discusses best practices such as precise control of chemical treatment dosage and digital monitoring of heat exchanger performance. An earlier article, “Consider Open-Rack Seawater Heat Exchangers,”  explores design and mechanical issues of such units.

Of course, plants that use river or other fresh water for cooling face water treatment challenges, too. We address these issues in a number of recent articles: “Improve Your Cooling Tower Treatment,”  looks at environmental friendly options now available that may offer better corrosion and fouling protection; “Plants Benefit from Better Cooling Tower Treatment,” highlights the results achieved by two plants that adopted new chemistry; “Conquer Cooling Water Treatment Challenges,”  discusses how advances in technology can help forestall corrosion, scaling and fouling; and “Don’t Foul Up Your Water Treatment Program,” cautions that requests for proposals often contain inadequate details.

Ambient conditions impact the performance of cooling water systems. Their design accounts to some extent for this. In addition, many plants turn off cooling tower fans and cooling water pumps during the winter. However, an alternative approach that capitalizes on the cold weather may provide a greater opportunity to save energy as “‘Tis the Season to Save Energy,” illustrates.

We’ve also covered a variety of maintenance issues: “Is Your Cooling Tower a Dust Filter,”  delves into issues that accumulation of dust from the air can cause; “Enter a Cooling Tower with Caution,” provides tips for safely carrying out an inspection; and “Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather,”  stresses the need to address any issues with tower fill before summer arrives.

In addition, check out the article “Water Conservation Efforts Pay Off,” which details the success of one company’s multifaced worldwide initiative.

The summer is not the time to find that your cooling system gets you into hot water. 

MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at [email protected]

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