Components of Cooling Tower
The basic components of an evaporative tower are: Frame and casing, fill, cold water basin, drift eliminators, air inlet, louvers, nozzles and fans.
Frame and casing: Most towers have structural frames that support the exterior enclosures (casings), motors, fans, and other components. With some smaller designs, such as some glass fiber units, the casing may essentially be the frame.
Fill: Most towers employ fills (made of plastic or wood) to facilitate heat transfer by maximising water and air contact. Fill can either be splash or film type. - With splash fill, water falls over successive layers of horizontal splash bars, continuously breaking into smaller droplets, while also wetting the fill surface. Plastic splash fill promotes better heat transfer than the wood splash fill. - Film fill consists of thin, closely spaced plastic surfaces over which the water spreads, forming a thin film in contact with the air. These surfaces may be flat, corrugated, honeycombed, or other patterns. The film type of fill is the more efficient and provides same heat transfer in a smaller volume than the splash fill.
Cold water basin: The cold water basin, located at or near the bottom of the tower, receives the cooled water that flows down through the tower and fill. The basin usually has a sump or low point for the cold water discharge connection. In many tower designs, the cold water basin is beneath the entire fill.
In some forced draft counter flow design, however, the water at the bottom of the fill is channelled to a perimeter trough that functions as the cold water basin. Propeller fans are mounted beneath the fill to blow the air up through the tower. With this design, the tower is mounted on legs, providing easy access to the fans and their motors.
Drift eliminators: These capture water droplets entrapped in the air stream that otherwise would be lost to the atmosphere. Air inlet: This is the point of entry for the air entering a tower. The inlet may take up an entire side of a tower–cross flow design– or be located low on the side or the bottom of counter flow designs.
Louvers: Generally, cross-flow towers have inlet louvers. The purpose of louvers is to equalize air flow into the fill and retain the water within the tower. Many counter flow tower designs do not require louvers.
Nozzles: These provide the water sprays to wet the fill. Uniform water distribution at the top of the fill is essential to achieve proper wetting of the entire fill surface. Nozzles can either be fixed in place and have either round or square spray patterns or can be part of a rotating assembly as found in some circular cross-section towers.
Fans: Both axial (propeller type) and centrifugal fans are used in towers. Generally, propeller fans are used in induced draft towers and both propeller and centrifugal fans are found in forced draft towers. Depending upon their size, propeller fans can either be fixed or variable pitch. Afan having non-automatic adjustable pitch blades permits the same fan to be used over a wide range of kW with the fan adjusted to deliver the desired air flow at the lowest power consumption. Automatic variable pitch blades can vary air flow in response to changing load conditions.
Tower Materials In the early days of cooling tower manufacture, towers were constructed primarily of wood. Wooden components included the frame, casing, louvers, fill, and often the cold water basin. If the basin was not of wood, it likely was of concrete.
Today, tower manufacturers fabricate towers and tower components from a variety of materials. Often several materials are used to enhance corrosion resistance, reduce maintenance, and promote reliability and long service life. Galvanized steel, various grades of stainless steel, glass fiber, and concrete are widely used in tower construction as well as aluminum and various types of plastics for some components.
Wood towers are still available, but they have glass fiber rather than wood panels (casing) over the wood framework. The inlet air louvers may be glass fiber, the fill may be plastic, and the cold water basin may be steel.
Larger towers sometimes are made of concrete. Many towers–casings and basins–are constructed of galvanized steel or, where a corrosive atmosphere is a problem, stainless steel. Sometimes a galvanized tower has a stainless steel basin. Glass fiber is also widely used for cooling tower casings and basins, giving long life and protection from the harmful effects of many chemicals.
Plastics are widely used for fill, including PVC, polypropylene, and other polymers. Treated wood splash fill is still specified for wood towers, but plastic splash fill is also widely used when water conditions mandate the use of splash fill. Film fill, because it offers greater heat transfer efficiency, is the fill of choice for applications where the circulating water is generally free of debris that could plug the fill passageways.
Plastics also find wide use as nozzle materials. Many nozzles are being made of PVC, ABS, polypropylene, and glass-filled nylon. Aluminum, glass fiber, and hot-dipped galvanized steel are commonly used fan materials. Centrifugal fans are often fabricated from galvanized steel. Propeller fans are fabricated from galvanized, aluminum, or moulded glass fiber reinforced plastic.