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Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling is a process that uses the effect of evaporation as a natural heat
sink. Sensible heat from the air is absorbed to be used as latent heat necessary to
evaporate water. The amount of sensible heat absorbed depends on the amount of
water that can be evaporated.
Evaporative cooling can be direct or indirect; passive or hybrid. In direct
evaporative cooling, the water content of the cooled air increases because air is in
contact with the evaporated water. In indirect evaporative cooling, evaporation
occurs inside a heat exchanger and the water content of the cooled air remains
unchanged. Since high evaporation rates might increase relative humidity and
create discomfort, direct evaporative cooling can be applied only in places where
relative humidity is very low.
Where evaporation occurs naturally it is called passive evaporation. A space can be
cooled by passive evaporation where there are surfaces of still or flowing water,
such as basins or fountains. Where evaporation has to be controlled by means of
some mechanical device, the system is called a hybrid evaporative system.

Evaporative cooling is based on the thermodynamics of evaporation of water, i.e.

the change of the liquid phase of water into water vapor. This phase change
requires energy, which is called latent heat of evaporation- this is the energy
required to change a substance from liquid phase to the gaseous one without
temperature change. When non- saturated air (i.e. air that does not contain liquid
water but only water vapor) comes in direct contact with water evaporation occurs.
It is obvious that during this process the moisture content of air is increased. This
process is represented on the psychometric chart by a displacement along a

constant wet bulb line, AB. The air to be cooled is initially at point A. The air, as a
result of the direct evaporative cooling process, reaches point B. This is a constant
wet bulb temperature process and therefore line AB is parallel to the wet bulb
temperature lines.
When evaporation occurs in the primary circuit of a heat exchanger, while the air
to be cooled circulates in the secondary circuit, the air temperature decreases but
its humidity ratio remains constant. It must be noted that since the air temperature
drops, its relative humidity will increase, but less than during the direct evaporative
cooling process. Since the humidity ratio of the air does not change, this process is
represented on the psychometric chart by a displacement along a constant humidity
ratio line CD. In this figure, the air to be cooled, initially at point C is sensibly
cooled by the indirect evaporative cooler until it reaches point B.

direct evaporative cooling"

indirect evaporative cooling"

Advantages and problems of direct and indirect evaporative cooling
Evaporative cooling uses large volumes or air. Forcing this volume of air through
small ducts, around sharp corners, and out of small outlets, involves ducting costs.
In some cases the best duct system is none. Just blow the air into a large daytime
occupancy rooms.
If not properly designed direct type evaporative coolers may pose the following
The cooled air may be excessively humid.
The high rate of air flow and large number of air changes, which are
necessary for effective cooling, cause large variation in the air speed and the
associated thermal sensation within the cooled space. This results in a waste
of energy, which has been used to cool the discharged air.
Indirect type evaporative coolers try to overcome these defects. Since the air in
these types of coolers gets cooled without coming in direct contact with water, the
problem of excessive humidity in the room air gets automatically solved.
Simultaneously the required number of air changes also gets reduced.
The important advantages of the indirect type evaporative cooling are as follows:

Depending upon the performance of the system used, the operating cost gets
reduced by 20% - 60% below that of refrigerant air conditioning. Of course,
the temperature achieved by evaporative cooling is higher and varying
unlike air conditioned system.
Power consumption is less resulting in a sharp reduction in the running
costs. Because of this reason, the indirect evaporative coolers can also be
used where electricity is expensive or scarce.
It can be used as a precooler for refrigerant air conditioning systems.
In this type of cooling, the exhaust room air can be delivered to the cooling
tower as a result of which the lower water temperature is obtained. This in
turn, produces more cooling.


Brief Explanation of General Operating Principles of Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative coolers (often called swamp coolers) work on the principle of
circulating air being drawn through an evaporative pad that has water cascading

along the pad surface, capable of lowering the air temperature as effective, yet
more energy-efficient at times, than a conventional compressor-type air
conditioning units, in more optimal conditions and environmental scenarios. Areas
in southwest US and similar dry, arid environments throughout the world show the
largest gain from using these type of units. Evaporative cooling systems depend on
an internally or externally powered air circulation delivery / carrier systems (i.e.
fan) to draw air towards and blow air flow over the cooling media (i.e. evaporative
pad). Air must move into contact with the liquid to affect the cooling process. A
coolant fluid such as water has an advantage of high volume heat capacity and
much higher thermal conductivity compared to air. The heat exchange coefficient
for liquid such as water is many times higher than for air, resulting in the
possibility for compact and energy efficient cooling system configurations. There
are many existing instructions on how to make your own D.I.Y. evaporative cooler
using widely available household parts and existing electronic elements found in
any local hardware store or home improvement center. The D.I.Y. designs found
online are similar in manufacturing / assemblage, and vary either through increased
interior volume capacity (i.e. larger containers), numerous intake fan options (i.e.
multiple fan orientations, various power and energy consumption classes of fans),
many intake opening, placement and pattern variations and different materially
manufactured evaporative pads (natural and synthetic), but ultimately all function
under the same simple operating principle of: water drips on vertical pad via pump
mounted in a reservoir, an air circulation system that both draws air through an
evaporative pad medium and redirect it out the cooler system.

Types of Evaporative Cooling

Direct Evaporative Cooling

Figure 1 - Direct Evaporative Cooler

A direct evaporative cooler, commonly found in residential applications

Direct evaporative cooling, commonly used with residential systems, cools the air
by evaporating water to increase the moisture content of the air. Standard
residential systems use evaporative media of shredded aspen fibers, typically 1 to 2
inches thick. These systems have an effectiveness of 55 to 70 percent.
(Effectiveness is a measure of how closely the supply air temperature leaving the
evaporative cooler approaches the outdoor wet-bulb temperature - see sidebar.)
Effectiveness is defined by:

where TDB is the outdoor dry-bulb temperature, TWB is the outdoor wet-bulb
temperature and SAT is the supply air temperature leaving the evaporative cooler.
The thickness of the media and air velocity contribute to the effectiveness. More
advanced systems use a rigid medium 8 to 12 inches thick and have an
effectiveness of 80% to 90%. Direct evaporative cooling systems are suitable for
hot and dry climates where the design wet-bulb temperature is 68F or lower. In
other climates, outdoor humidity levels are too high to allow for sufficient cooling.

Indirect Evaporative Cooling

Figure 2 - Indirect-Direct Evaporative Cooler (IDEC) (click to enlarge)

Indirect evaporative cooling uses an air to air heat exchanger to remove heat from
the primary air stream without adding moisture. In one configuration, hot dry
outside air is passed through a series of horizontal tubes that are wetted on the
outside. A secondary air stream blows over the outside of the coils and exhausts the
warm, moist air to the outdoors. The outside air is cooled without adding moisture
as it passes through the tubes. Indirect evaporative cooling typically has an
effectiveness of 75%.
Another system type that is used in residential and light commercial applications
uses the Maisotsenko cycle, which uses a cross-channel heat exchanger that cools
the air incrementally over a large number of stages. Systems using the Maisotsenko
cycle can have wet-bulb effectiveness values of 85% to over 100% (cooling the
supply air to below the wet-bulb temperature). While the greater number of air
passes increases the pressure drop and the required fan power, the high
effectiveness extends the geographic range where the indirect evaporative cooler
can fully meet the cooling demand.

Equipment ~ Cooling: Evaporative Cooling

What is evaporative cooling?

Evaporative cooling converts hot air into a cool breeze using the process of
evaporating water similar to how you feel when you step out of a swimming pool
on a breezy day. In a standard greenhouse cooling system, exhaust fans pull hot air
out of the greenhouse creating negative pressure inside the greenhouse. Fresh
outside air is drawn through wetted pads and is cooled. This system is also referred
to as a negative pressure cooling system. Evaporative cooling is environmentallyfriendly since it uses no CFC's or HCFC's and costs about 70% less to operate than
conventional air conditioning systems.
Fan & Pad cooling systems:
A fan and pad cooling system consists of a continuous row of cellulose pads along
one wall of the greenhouse. Water is distributed along the tops of the pads. Exhaust
fans at the opposite side of the greenhouse evacuate hot air. As replacement air is
drawn through the pads, the outside air is cooled by evaporation by as much as 20
degrees in non humid climates.