Operating a cooling tower is a complex process that requires careful consideration in order to make the most effective use of the system. From safety concerns to energy usage, maintenance of a cooling tower addresses a variety of critical concepts. Building owners and managers who have become aware of the large impact that a cooling tower can have on the environment have begun to ask—is it possible to go green while operating a tower?
Is It Possible to Go Green When Using a Cooling Tower?
The short answer is that yes, it is possible to go green and operate a cooling tower at the same time. Using a cooling tower to produce cooling is in itself green. Using water rather than air to transfer heat is approximately 3,200 times more effective and therefore green. Many people understand that because towers use so much energy and rely on chemicals to treat the water, there will always be some negative environmental impact to their operation. However, owners and managers can opt for more environmentally friendly options throughout the entire cooling tower operation process to ensure that the system does not carry an undue negative burden on the earth. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.
Reducing Electricity by using VFD
One of the most often overlooked sources of waste in energy consumption is items that rely on the manual starting and stopping of condenser pumps, cooling tower fans, chillers, and sump heaters. Regulating flow and temperature can be done by the changing of motors over to Variable Frequency Drives or VFD. VFD’s are used to deliver only the necessary amount of electricity to a specific motor depending on need, they also eliminate the excessive electrical current draw requirement used when a motor starts. These VDF’s are normally controlled by pressure and temperature and ramp the motors up or down as slowly to maintain these parameters. VFD’s need to be designed by an engineer to ensure installing them does not cause other concerns within a system and maybe cost prohibited in some systems.
Keep Up with Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is important for a cooling tower, but not just to keep it safe for operation by removing potentially dangerous or even fatal contaminants such as Legionella. While this is certainly a critical aspect of preventative maintenance in a tower, the regular attention serves alternative purposes such as clean heat transfer surfaces and improving the system’s longevity. Heat Transfer surfaces that have been fouled by dirt debris and biological activity can steal transfer efficiency yield huge power requirements to make the same amount of cooling needed. Underneath these contaminants, deterioration can take place, removing metal and gasketing materials to promote failure of system equipment and piping. Also, when a cooling tower relies on a robust preventative maintenance plan, it does not need to be treated drastically with harmful chemicals in order to conquer uncontrolled biofilms, Legionella, or other issues which can also promote corrosion.. Similarly, the equipment itself will last longer, as parts are replaced before the end of their potential life cycle as well as preventing unnecessary energy consumption, and excessive chemical addition.
Cut Down on Unnecessary Water Consumption
Cooling towers require water in order to operate. The condenser water in the system is evaporated, and as the water evaporates, the system experiences a change in temperature by transferring heat out and passing the resulting cool air into the building. However, this evaporation also means that the cooling tower is constantly using and losing water. Cooling tower experts understand the concept of “concentration ratio” which will allow them to determine the maximum amount of time the system can evaporate water until the concentrated water must be bled off, as not to promote scale corrosion or unwanted debris. Be sure to evaluate the water consumption of your cooling tower to ensure that it is functioning at peak efficiency so that it does not use more water than necessary. Issues in the water system or mechanical failures in the tower can cause inefficiency, as can scale and rust buildup or sludge from lack of cleaning.
Use Green Cleaning Options When Possible
Many people assume that because humans do not drink the water that comes from a cooling tower, the tower itself can be cleaned with harsher chemicals than are usually used in potable water sources. However, consider using green cleaning options when performing regular maintenance on a cooling tower. Because the tower evaporates water, the chemicals used to clean surfaces in the tower itself can be aerosolized back into the environment; thus, it is important to choose green options when cleaning a cooling tower to reduce the environmental impact. A skilled cooling tower expert can advise you on which products are safe and effective to use in a cooling tower while also bearing the least pollutant impact on the environment.
Work with the Cooling Tower Cleaning and Maintenance Experts
Whether you would like someone to evaluate your ideas about operating a cooling tower in the most environmentally friendly way or you need assistance going green with the tower at your facility, be sure to work with the experts. The professionals at Tower Water set the standard in water treatment and cooling tower maintenance and would be happy to offer guidance on reducing your environmental impact as you operate a cooling tower. Reach out to schedule an appointment with an experienced technician to discuss your options and create a strategy for cutting your pollutants and improving the health of both your cooling tower and the world in which you live.