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COOLING TOWER CALCULATIONS

ABSTRUCT :
The method by which heat is removed from an open recirculating cooling water system is
evaporation (E) of some of the water over a tower. The amount of temperature reduction that
can be accomplished by evaporation at any time is limited to the wet-bulb temperature or simply,
the relative humidity. A high relative humidity lowers the evaporation rate; dry conditions
encourage a higher evaporation rate. Seasonal humidity conditions are an important
consideration in tower sizing, design, and placement.
The recirculation rate and the temperature drop across the cooling tower are the two pieces of
data needed to calculate the amount of water lost from the open recirculating cooling system
(due to evaporation).
Following items will be discussed and calculated in this article :
-

Evaporation

Temperature Drop

Recirculation Rate

Concentration Ratio or Cycles of Concentration

Make Up Water

Holding Capacity or System Volume

Blowdown Rate

Evaporation:
-

Evaporation losses will vary depending upon temperature and humidity, but a general rule is
that for every 100 F. (60 C.) temperature drop across the tower, approximately 0.85% of the
recirculation rate will be evaporated.

Evaporation (Estimation: See Value Added Troubleshooting Guide - Cooling Section for
precise method )

E T R 0.00085

when T measured in Fahrenheit

E T R 0.00153

when T measured in Centigrade

Where:

Units will be equivalent to the R value. Typically gpm or m3/hr.

This figure can be used for estimating purposes, but should not be used when more exact
information is required (e.g., in a proposal, problem solving, etc.). Details for calculating
evaporation rate based upon temperature and humidity conditions are provided in the PAC-3
section of the Value Added Troubleshooting Guide.

R = Recirculation Rate, gpm (m3/hr)

Temperature Drop :
The temperature drop ( T ) for a cooling tower can be measured by taking the temperature of
the tower return water (TR) and subtracting the temperature of the basin supply water (TS). This
difference can be used to calculate the approximate amount of evaporation that has occurred in
the cooling tower:

T T R T S
Recirculation Rate
To maintain a flow of water through the heat transfer equipment, water must be pumped or
recirculated. The recirculation rate can be determined from information on pump performance,
tower hydraulics, etc. A detailed description of how to determine recirculating rate is given in
the PAC-3 section of the Value Added Troubleshooting Guide .
It can be grossly misleading to simply use the pump name plate data to determine recirculating
rate. Many times throttling valves, pipe restrictions, and head pressure restrictions interfere and
can produce deviations as great as 50-75% from the name plate values.
Concentration Ratio or Cycles of Concentration

The concentration ratio of an ion carried in a recirculating system is merely the concentration of
that ion in the recirculating water divided by the concentration of the ion in the makeup water.
Concentration ratio is also referred to as the cycles of concentration.
C R = Specific Ion Concentration in the Recirculation Water
Specific Ion Concentration in the Make Up Water
Theoretically, evaporation from a cooling tower is pure water. All of the dissolved ions are left
behind to concentrate in the system. If the only system water loss was through evaporation, the
dissolved ions in the recirculating water would continue to concentrate (from the ions left after
evaporation) until the solubility of each ion in the water was exceeded and massive
scale/deposition resulted. Most systems cannot tolerate any scale; therefore, the level or
concentration of critical scaling-prone ions in the water is usually controlled by a combination of
bleeding off a certain portion of the recirculation water and adding anti-scaling compounds. The
rate at which water is bled from a system (in gpm; m3/hr) compared with the amount of fresh
water being introduced in the system (in gpm; m3/hr) will also determine the concentration ratio.
C R = MU
BD
To check the concentration ratio in a system, select and monitor a soluble ion (such as silica or
magnesium) that is present in sufficient quantity, stable, and easily tested. Compare its
concentration in the makeup water to its concentration in the recirculating water by dividing the
tower content by the makeup content.
Repeating this same testing for scaling species (e.g., calcium) will provide an indication if
scaling is occurring or if the system is in chemical balance. If the cycles of calcium
concentration are consistently lower than the cycles of magnesium concentration, for example,
the calcium can be assumed to be precipitating in the system. (There may also be scale forming
in the heat transfer equipment, thereby impeding production.) Entry of ions from sources other
than the makeup water can invalidate any ratio being developed. These sources include
chlorination, chemical additives, process leaks, acid additions, and airborne gases.
Make Up Water :
Water that must be added to replace water lost from the recirculating system by evaporation and
bleed-off (or blowdown) is called makeup water (MU). The amount of water entering the system
must be equal to the amount leaving the system.
MU = E + BD
Where:

MU = Makeup Rate, gpm (m3/hr)


E

= Evaporation Rate, gpm (m3/hr)

3
BD = Blowdown Rate. gpm (m /hr) includes drift, leakage, filter wastage and
export

If the temperature drop across the tower and the recirculation rates are known, the amounts of
water loss through evaporation can be calculated. If the concentration ratio is also known then
the makeup water requirements can be calculated as follows.
MU

E CR
CR 1

The expression was developed from the following fundamental cooling tower water balance
relationships.
MU = E + BD
CR = MU/BD
Substituting BD = MU/CR in the first equation.
MU = E + MU/CR
(MU)(CR) = (E)(CR) + MU
(MU)(CR) - MU = (E)(CR)
MU

E CR
CR 1

BLOWDOWN RATE :
The blowdown (bleed-off) rate is generally defined as the water lost from the system for all
reasons except evaporation. In very tight (low water loss) open recirculating systems, the two
primary areas for system water loss are evaporation and water blowdown. In practice, however,
a lot of water may also be lost through system water leaks, by water combining with the product
or process, or by tower drift. For calculation purposes, all of these water losses, except for
evaporation, are generally considered together and called tower water blowdown. The
blowdown rate is normally measured in gallons pen minute (m3/hr).
System blowdown (BD) rate can be calculated from the following expression:
BD

Where:

E
CR 1

BD = blowdown rate, gpm (m3/hr)


E

= tower evaporation rate, gpm (m3/hr)

CR = concentration ratio or cycles


This expression was derived from the following cooling tower water balance relationship: MU
= BD + E
Substituting MU = (CR)(BD) in MU = BD + E :
(CR)(BD) = BD + E
(CR)(BD) - BD = E
(BD)(CR-1) = E
BD

E
CR 1

Non-Blowdown Water Losses Included in Blowdown [ Drift, Leaks, Filter Wastage, Export ]
If cooling system is operated under ideal conditions all water removed from the system would be
due to evaporation or blowdown. Unfortunately the ideal cooling system only exist in concept
and in operating systems we find other water losses that need to be understood and factored into
the overall cooling system materials balance equation.

Drift - Tiny droplets of water that become entrained in the airstream and carried out of the
unit in the leaving airstream. Unlike evaporation drift is a droplet of water and
contains solids and bacteria. Drift is the primary mechanism for transmission of
pathogens from a cooling system to a host. Drift is usually estimated based on a
percentage of recirculation. Estimates vary from 0.002 to 0.01% of recirculation.
Splash fill towers tend to have higher drift rates then film fill towers. Drift eliminator
design, unit maintenance and air flow also have an influence on the amount of drift
that is released from a cooling system.
Leaks - Uncontrolled water lost from a system. Leaks should be identified, quantified and
corrected where possible. Leak identification and management is a valuable service
to any client operating a cooling system. Possible sources: pump seals, valves that
do not seal, overflow, tower containment or splash out, exchanger failures . . .
Filter / Separator Wastage - Water wasted from a system due to separator flush or filter back
wash.
Export - Water intentionally removed from the system and used in another system.
Holding Capacity or System Volume :
The holding capacity of a system is the amount of water in the system expressed in gallons
(cubic meters). Normally most of the capacity of a system is contained in the cooling tower
basin; the exact amount, however, can be determined only by conducting a TRASAR diagnosis
or an ion concentration study. This technique is described in detail in the Value Added
Troubleshooting Guide, PAC-3 . Assumptions about holding capacities can be dangerous and
may lead to incorrect dosages for biocides, including biological control programs that are
ineffective or too costly.
Holding Time Index or Half-Life
The holding time index (HTI) is a calculated figure that indicates the time required to reduce the
chemical or makeup water added to a system to 50% of its original concentration. It is
essentially the half-life of a chemical added to the system. The basic method of calculating the
holding time index is as follows:
HTI

0.693 HC
BD

Expressed in the time units used for blowdown BD. Usually reported in hours.
Where: BD = Blowdown Rate. gpm (m3/hr) includes leakage
HC = Holding Capacity or Volume, gal (m3)

The holding time index is important in choosing a chemical treatment program. Very long
holding time indexes may preclude the use of certain chemicals, such as polyphosphates,
because of excessive reversion of the polyphosphate species to orthophosphate and subsequent
precipitation as tricalcium phosphate (a compound that has a very low solubility in water). A
short holding time index may limit the use of some chemicals because of the higher amount of
chemical required to maintain the necessary treatment levels (and the accompanying increased
costs). Further, not all chemical inhibitors will prevent scale, corrosion, and fouling for the
same length of time. Therefore, the particular chemical program chosen and the level at which
the chemicals are applied are influenced by the holding time index.
Finally, the holding time index is used to determine the required amount of some biocides to
achieve proper control of microorganisms. This is particularly true when slug feeding sloweracting biocides. Short holding time indexes may not allow enough time to maintain critical
biocide concentration for kill and can result in developing resistance. We can manage holding
time index to some degree by pre-blowing down prior to biocide dosing to increase the holding
time.
TIME PER CYCLE :
The time per cycle is defined as the time it takes all the water in a system to make one trip
around the recirculating loop (from the discharge side of the recirculation pump back to the
suction side of the pump).
Time per Cycle

HC
R

Expressed in the time units used for recirculation rate R.

3
Where: BD = Blowdown Rate. gpm (m /hr) includes drift and leakage

CR = Concentration Ratio
E

= Evaporation Rate, gpm (m3/hr)

HC = Holding Capacity or Volume, gal (m3)


HTI = Holding Time Index
3
MU = Makeup Rate, gpm (m /hr)

= Recirculation Rate, gpm (m3/hr)

T = Temperature drop across tower, Measured as 0 F. or 0 C.

HC = Holding Capacity or System Volume, gal (m3)

CONCLUSION :
For selecting a cooling tower we shall calculate all the charctristics at first in order to meet
all preocess demands and fulfill the requirments in the best way.
REFERENCES :
-

Nalco Handbook
Process calculation handbook

MOHAMMADREZA MALEK
HEDCO Co.
malek.mohammadreza@hedcoint.com

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