Despite being some of the most important parts of any industry, cooling towers are also some of the most misunderstood and ignored parts of a power plant. However, these are the gadgets that help minimize the heat produced by any machines that use any source of power thus avoiding possible havoc.
Power plants are among the areas that you will find the use of heavy machines all producing large amounts of heat. For this reason, these are some of the most critical areas where one should ensure that they have a cooling tower.
The cooling towers work by cooling down the water, which as a result minimizes the amount of heat in the machines and the industry at large. Additionally, the cooling helps recycle the water that has been used, thus making power plants more economical and environmentally friendly.
Cooled water in the industries also allows more efficient generation of electricity in the power plant.
A power plant cooling tower is, therefore, a necessary item to have in any given power plant. In fact, without it, you not only have excessive use of water in the power plant but also risk having losses in the plant when the operating machines are damaged by the excess heat from the sources of heat.
Here is more information about the use and working principles of a power plant cooling tower and the reasons why you should have one in a power plant.
What Is a Power Plant Cooling Tower?
As the name suggests, a power plant cooling tower is a kind of cooling tower that helps cool down water in a power plant. It can also be termed as a huge heat exchanger that uses water to minimize or balance the heat which has been produced in a power plant.
In the power plant cooling system, the cooling towers work with a principle psychometric properties of air. This is a case where part of the cooling water evaporates taking latent heat from the water and ends up reducing its temperature.
For this reason, if the cooling tower you are working with is properly sized, you can end up cooling as much incoming water as possible. The relative humidity of the ambient air is, therefore, an important factor when it comes to ensuring that the cooling tower functions effectively.
Additionally, this also helps ensure that the direction and location of the tower are such as to prevent re-entertainment of the interference from the adjacent towers and of the plume exiting the tower.
Working Principles of a Power Plant Cooling Tower
Ideally, any given cooling tower is working under the principle of water evaporation, the power plant cooling tower included. When the evaporation takes place, there is a transfer of both mass and heat, and also cooling down of water.
At this time, the rate at which the water evaporates is determined and increased by the velocity. Evaporation being a natural phenomenon, water keeps on evaporating till the air that is in contact with it gets saturated.
However, the evaporation cannot be more than the saturation point of the air. For this reason, total evaporation will depend on the capacity of moisture that the air can hold, which is also directly affected by the humidity.
After the spraying of hot water from the top of the cooling tower, which is done through the nozzles, it gives jet effects and there is sucking of air from the area that surrounds each nozzle. After this, the water and air move towards the basin in a co-current direction.
It is during this movement that the air cools down the water to the desired temperature and later escapes through the louvers. The more the temperature difference between the internal heat source and the external environment, the more efficient the process will be.
For this reason, it is advisable that there be a high temperature internally and the temperature outside is reduced to make the process as smooth as possible. By making this consideration, you also give rise to other desirably siting power plants alongside cold water.
Losses in Power Plant Cooling Towers
In a power plant cooling tower, you may experience loss of water which is mainly due to a problem that is made up during the operation. Some of these losses are such as:
Evaporation loss- this is when a part of the water evaporates and creates the cooling effects. It is also determined by the relative humidity or ambient temperature.
Blowdown losses- as the water evaporates, it leaves behind salts which later accumulate and raise the TDS levels. However, this can be avoided by blowing it down occasionally.
Drift loss- this is caused by the water particles that are drawn away through the flowing air. However, manufacturers are now more careful in the construction to of cooling towers to ensure that they reduce this.
Care and Maintenance of a Power Plant Cooling Tower
Like in the case of any other machine, a power plant cooling tower requires maintenance from time to time for it to be more durable. Additionally, the cooling tower will need frequent cleaning to help get rid of any dirt and debris that could end up causing more harm than good.
For this reason, ensure that you get a guide on how to clean the cooling tower in the right way to ensure that it functions effectively. For instance, ensure that you clean the tower fan, tower basin, distribution pan among other areas.
Additionally, contact a professionally at least twice a year to help in the maintenance of the tower. They will also be in a position to update you in case the tower has failed before the problem goes too far.
Customers for power plant cooling towers commented on the “efficiency of the plants in cooling their factories” saving their equipment from “frequent breakdowns due to excess heat” and “providing for their workers a conducive working environment at near room temperature”.
They, however, lamented on the “huge water needs” that the cooling plants have that “shot their water bills upwards” significantly.All these taken into account, a power plant cooling tower is one of the most important systems that you can have in a power plant. They help machines function effectively without the problems that are caused by excess heat.