Keeping Cooling Towers on Tap: How Today’s Plastic Cooling Towers Slash Downtime and Service Costs
Innovations in today’s engineered-plastic cooling towers offer significant advantages over those of metal, providing optimum service with minimal maintenance and little or no water treatment costs.
Cooling towers are so critical to many industrial processes that if even one goes down unexpectedly, the consequences can reverberate throughout the organization’s entire production line. Aside from unplanned emergencies, cooling towers that are overworked, out of service, or require periodic rebuilding or replacement also exact a severe toll in terms of lost production, labor and materials. Hence, the focus of any processing or manufacturing plant engineer is to ensure that when time comes to retrofit or expand, reliability and lack-of-downtime ranks first in the selection of cooling tower structures. Other factors include reduced maintenance, easy installation and lowered costs. Given these considerations, and faced with a choice between metal or engineered-plastic, many engineers and plant managers are opting for the latter in light of new developments that increasingly tip the scales in favor of lightweight, high-capacity, energy efficient reduced-maintenance plastic cooling towers. There is considerable science to the subject of cooling tower design and operation, of course, but fundamentally, three essential issues about performance are often considered by plant engineers: 1) is the cooling capacity sufficient to the demands of the operation? 2) do the cooling towers require maintenance that is interrupting business? and 3) are the towers costing a fortune in water treatment? Toward addressing these concerns, cooling towers have evolved significantly from the simple heat exchangers of the 1890s. Yet, only in recent years has the design of industrial cooling towers been fast-forwarded to prevent the need for expensive upkeep, repair and replacement; and the most significant advancement has come with the availability of corrosion-proof polyethylene-plastic cooling tower which will not rust, chip, flake, or peel -- unlike metal. Nor does engineered plastic require the application and periodic re-application of paint or other protective coatings. High-density polyethylene also stands up better to harsh chemicals that eventually prove fatal to galvanized towers. New-generation plastic towers are not only leak-proof and impervious to weather and chemicals, but they are now more applicable to the majority of commercial and industrial applications because of recently expanded cooling capacities that reach and exceed 2,000 tons. These gargantuan capacities are made possible by a new modular-construction design -- where a group of smaller towers can be combined into one massive cooling unit. The inherent and design advantages of the latest engineered-plastic cooling towers also allow easier installation (especially on rooftops) because a lightweight plastic shell weighs as much as 40% less than a steel tower. Additionally, the induced-draft, counter-flow design seen in some engineered-plastic towers allows improved cooling efficiency for the size, allowing a smaller footprint to fit where there are locating constraints. Some models incorporate innovative I-beam “pockets” to reinforce the tower bottom so that they can be easily mounted on standard I-beams or imperfect pads. In conjunction with vastly enlarged capacities and improved structures, some plastic tower manufacturers have broken new ground by offering simpler cooling systems in the form of direct drive fan systems that require minimal maintenance because of less moving parts: no gear reducers, couplings, additional shafts, or extra bearings -- furthering the goal of maintaining “up-time” within the plant. Taken together, the design improvements of engineered-plastic towers offer several benefits over their metal counterparts for companies across a broad range of industries. Read the full article here: KeepingCoolingTowersOnTap
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