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What Is a Cooling Tower?


Ever wondered what is a cooling tower? If you look down from a building and see square units with fans on the buildings below you, those are cooling towers. Those units are responsible for keeping water cool and getting rid of excess waste heat that gathers up within a building.

Most large office buildings, schools, and hospitals employ the use of a cooling tower. They are a cost-effective and energy-efficient way of keeping the area cool, similar to a large-scale air conditioner.

Want to know why and how cooling towers are effective methods for heat transfer? Continue reading to explore how a cooling tower works and why commercial buildings use them so much.

How Does a Cooling Tower Work?

Within a cooling tower, waste heat is removed into the atmosphere through a process of evaporation and recirculation. Portions of overheated water get mixed with cooler air, which releases heat from vaporization and causes the water to cool down.

The process then repeats itself over and over again, with the heat being removed into the atmosphere. The fan that is on top of the cooling tower helps bring air located at the bottom of the tower towards the top of it. Earlier versions of this were for rooftop units on buildings or placed as free-standing structures on their own.

Types of Cooling Towers

There are different types of cooling towers that a designed for various purposes. Crossflow cooling towers have water that vertically flows through a fill with air flowing across water horizontally. Air doesn’t need to pass through the distribution system because of the crossing flows between both.

A counter flow cooling tower has air flowing upwards counter to the water flow. It uses pressure spray systems like pipes spread out to spray water towards the top.

Another type is a natural draft and fan-assisted natural draft cooling tower. This is where fans induce a draft that pulls air up and outward. With a natural draft cooling tower, there are no fans that let the air flow upward, while fan-assisted have a fan placed either at the top or lower part of the tower.

Are Cooling Towers Friendly to the Environment?

There have been some concerns about the impact that cooling towers could have on the environment. Traditional versions of the towers were made with sheet metal cladding, which was maintenance-intensive and environmentally challenging. But cooling towers made with seamless plastic were a better alternative that was beneficial to the environment and energy costs.

Some traditional commercial cooling tower units only last a few years within their given applications, but also came with high disposal requirements and increased chemical use. Going with HDPE plastic-designed cooling towers allowed businesses to have more water treatment options and avoid some of the negative parts of traditional units.

They saved a lot of money in operating costs and solved many other issues related to water and chemical use.

Understanding What Is a Cooling Tower

After reading our overview of what a cooling tower is, you should have a better understanding of how it functions and why it is so useful.  When generating a lot of excess heat within a location, a cooling tower is an effective way of getting rid of it and keeping things cool.

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