Describe cooling towers with important performance related terms.

Subject : Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Topic : Vapour Compression Refrigeration System

Difficulty : Medium

1 Answer


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The important parameters, from the point of determining the performance of cooling towers, are: i) "Range" is the difference between the cooling tower water inlet and outlet temperature.

ii) "Approach" is the difference between the cooling tower outlet cold water temperature and ambient wet bulb temperature. Although, both range and approach should be monitored, the 'Approach' is a better indicator of cooling tower performance.

iii) Cooling tower effectiveness (in percentage) is the ratio of range, to the ideal range, i.e., difference between cooling water inlet temperature and ambient wet bulb temperature, or in other words it is = Range / (Range + Approach).

iv) Cooling capacity is the heat rejected in kCal/hr or TR, given as product of mass flow rate of water, specific heat and temperature difference.

v) Evaporation loss is the water quantity evaporated for cooling duty and, theoretically, for every 10,00,000 kCal heat rejected, evaporation quantity works out to 1.8 m3. An empirical relation used often is:

Evaporation Loss (m3/hr) = 0.00085 x 1.8 x circulation rate (m3/hr) x (T1-T2)

where T1-T2 = Temp. difference between inlet and outlet water

vi) Cycles of concentration (C.O.C) is the ratio of dissolved solids in circulating water to the dissolved solids in make up water.

vii) Blow down losses depend upon cycles of concentration and the evaporation losses and is given by relation: Blow Down = Evaporation Loss / (C.O.C. – 1)

viii) Liquid/Gas (L/G) ratio, of a cooling tower is the ratio between the water and the air mass flow rates. Against design values, seasonal variations require adjustment and tuning of water and air flow rates to get the best cooling tower effectiveness through measures like water box loading changes, blade angle adjustments.

Thermodynamics also dictate that the heat removed from the water must be equal to the heat absorbed by the surrounding air: L(T1 –T2) = G(h2 – h1)

L/G = (h2-h1)/(T1-T2)


L/G = liquid to gas mass flow ratio (kg/kg)

T1 = hot water temperature (°C)

T2 = cold water temperature (°C)

h2 = enthalpy of air-water vapor mixture at exhaust wet-bulb temperature (same units as above)

h1 = enthalpy of air-water vapor mixture at inlet wet-bulb temperature (same units as above)

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