Cooling Towers: Finding the Right Fill for Your Process

Cooling Towers: Finding the Right Fill for Your Process

How often do you think about your cooling tower or the fill that provides the cooling engine for your process? Unfortunately, if you’re like many plant operators, your cooling tower is but one piece of equipment in your large facility, and its ranking on your priority list is probably lower than many other expensive and more intricate pieces of equipment in your plant.

One of the challenges this lack of priority can yield is a lack of in-depth knowledge for a critical piece of the puzzle: the cooling tower. Just how critical it is becomes evident in the summer months, during the hottest days of the year, when production must be unexpectedly scaled back because the return cooling water from the cooling tower is so high it’s negatively impacting plant efficiency.

Whether you have an existing cooling tower that needs some work done, or you’re looking to purchase a new cooling tower to meet a plant capacity expansion, one of the choices you’ll have is the fill around which the cooling tower is built. Choosing the right fill for your process and installation is an important decision since it can impact your plant’s operation for years to come.

How Fills Work

Before discussing fills it’s important to understand the basic function of a cooling tower. In general, cooling towers are fairly simple devices. The goal is to take water heated by your plant’s process and cool it down, removing the same quantity of heat that your process added to it so that you can re-use the water in a recirculating loop.

The cooling tower is essentially just a box built to contain the water to be cooled. Because the water is cooled via the evaporative heat and mass transfer of water, the box has components that enhance that mechanism, such as air-moving equipment and components that improve the interactions of air and water, namely “fill.”

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