Non-chemical solutions for cooling towers address financial, environmental issues

Facilities around the world that use cooling towers and evaporative condensers are trying to reduce water consumption and sewer charges while maintaining effective cooling water treatment. Many areas of the U.S. are focusing on water conservation, and many others are turning their attention to the health and safety of employees and environmental concerns.

01/01/2009


Facilities around the world that use cooling towers and evaporative condensers are trying to reduce water consumption and sewer charges while maintaining effective cooling water treatment. Many areas of the U.S. are focusing on water conservation, and many others are turning their attention to the health and safety of employees and environmental concerns.

About 99% of cooling towers and evaporative condensers are still using chemicals. While effective, these chemicals are designed to kill living organisms, and significant consequences can occur if these substances are mishandled.

In the past year, chemical prices have jumped 50% to 100% for phosphonates and phosphates, the base ingredients used in scale inhibitors. Many chemical manufacturers are doubling the price tag for the corrosion inhibitor sodium hexametaphosphate, and sulfuric acid has doubled in price in the last 12 months. By eliminating the need for chemicals to treat cooling water, facility managers and engineers can erase delivery surcharges and container fees from their monthly water treatment budget.

Non-chemical options

Several alternatives are available that not only save water but eliminate chemical use all together. These systems improve worker safety and eliminate environmental risks. Non-chemical technologies can be grouped into four categories: magnetic/electromagnetic, induced electric field devices, ultrasonic and mechanical.

Magnetic/electromagnetic devices have one or more permanent magnets mounted to the inside or outside of a pipe in which water passes. A strong magnetic field keeps minerals in solution instead of forming on equipment.

Induced electric field devices use pulsed low- and high-frequency electromagnetic fields generated by induction coils wrapped around a pipe. The water is exposed to electric and magnetic fields that keep scale particles in solution. The bacteria in cooling water are controlled by encapsulation and electroporation. Essentially, calcium carbonate powder traps bacteria.

Ultrasonic devices use ultrasonic waves from high-power, high-intensity ultrasonic transducers. As the sound waves pass through the water, it is alternatively compressed and decompressed with potential for cavitation to result.

Mechanical devices most often use pressure pumps to force water into plates, walls or other water streams with intent of producing cavitation. One of these methods is using controlled hydrodynamic cavitation (HDC). The process provides companies with an environmentally friendly alternative to chemicals, while also saving water and improving worker safety.

The technology draws cooling water from the cooling tower or evaporative condenser sump. Precision nozzles create opposing water streams that collide with tremendous kinetic energy and shear. At the point of collision, a near total vacuum is created that degasses the flow. The pressure change causes controlled hydrodynamic cavitation with localized high temperature. The cavitation process creates solid particles, and the rapid change in pressure to a vacuum causes the cell walls of microorganisms to burst, killing the cell. The particles are then filtered out of the system.

Using HCD can increase cycles of concentration to save the average customer approximately 2 million gallons of reusable water annually, while also eliminating the need for chemicals. It also has the potential to help the facility earn LEED credits.


Author Information

Abby Harris is a public relations coordinator for VRTX Technologies.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.