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Is Your Cooling Tower Operating at Peak Efficiency?

As a busy maintenance and engineering manager you are well aware of the vital role your cooling towers perform at your facility. With the many urgent demands on the budget, keeping them operating at peak performance may sometimes be difficult to manage.

However, by attending to just three common cooling tower issues you can increase their efficiency, improve their operation and extend their working life.

Effective management of the motors, successful handling of contamination, and close observation of water levels will result in more efficient performance. This in turn means cost effective operation over the longer term.

Managing Cooling Tower Motors

Your cooling tower needs to be upgraded to have the latest high efficiency motors installed. This is necessary because:

  • Today's motors are manufactured with higher-quality components, conform to more exacting processes and are therefore a much better motor.

  • More reliable electronic controls are able to match the operating speed of electric motors to the requirements of the load.

These motors are suited exactly to the application and allow the entire spectrum, ranging from the small pump applications to the huge centrifugal chillers, to operate at peak efficiency.

Although the energy efficient motors are initially more expensive than a standard efficiency model, significant savings can be made over long term operation, particularly when contemplating the number of hours of horsepower the motor consumes in annual operation.    

Weekly motor maintenance checks are also highly desirable. Technicians should check to detect any signs of excessive heat or vibration in the tower fan motors. Gearboxes must be maintained with the correct oil level and checked for leaks.

Knowing the Causes of Cooling Tower Contamination

Because of their operating environments, cooling towers are exposed to a wide range of contaminants.

Inorganic particles, such as dirt, dust, silt and sand, from the atmosphere and organic particles such as pollen, leaves, bacteria and algae are introduced into the tower's water supply.

These solids eventually collect in the basin of the tower. They begin to erode away the components, particularly the circulation propellers. They develop a scaly growth on the heat transfer surfaces and block the spray nozzles.

Dealing with Contamination

Regular inspection and maintenance by qualified technicians is best possible strategy of reducing contamination.

A proper water treatment program will limit the contaminant's ability to form scale and minimize their spread and growth throughout the tower. Treatment with ultra-violet light and biocides is the preferred method.

A regular replacement of a percentage of the circulating water will keep down the concentration of suspended solids. Technicians can bleed off the necessary amount of water at regular intervals to keep operation within recommended levels.

Maintaining the Ideal Water Level

The task of keeping just the right amount of water circulating through the system is a common issue for cooling tower engineers. The water circulates through the tower in a cycle by collecting in the tower basin and then returning to the pumps.

When the water level becomes too low, the pumps begin to draw in air. If the level is too high, water then overflows to create damage and leaks.

Technicians can monitor the float valves and add water to the basin to compensate for water loss and check water levels.

Replacing the float valves with electronic level controls will make the task of monitoring the water levels much simpler and help maintain the level evenly.

Cooling towers consume huge volumes of water and any methods which assist in reducing water consumption should be a priority in the monitoring of your overall energy efficiency.

Use this handy calculator to check on the efficiency of water usage at your facility.

By looking out for any methods to reduce the amount of water used by your facility, you are not only making savings in utility bills, you are benefiting the environment. To ensure that your cooling towers are properly maintained, contact a company like Breezewater Pty Ltd.