Most commercial office buildings, hospitals, and schools use a cooling tower as part of their air conditioning systems. Water and energy usage are large, common issues to monitor cooling towers for. The typical cooling tower can also last anywhere from 15 to 20 years, and the cost to replace one ranges from $80,000 to more than $200,000.
Cooling towers rejection devices which work to move waste heat from working liquids into the air. They accomplish through one of two methods.
- Wet Cooling Tower: The first method utilizes the evaporative effects of a water stream to move heat away from the liquid.
- Dry Cooling Tower: The second method relies on using the surrounding air temperature to cool off the liquids.
What Types of Facilities Use Cooling Towers
Cooling towers come in multiple sizes that fit many facilities. While some people may think solely of the largest kinds of cooling towers when they hear the term, suppliers also offer much smaller options that are appropriate for office buildings and other non-industrial facilities. One can find cooling towers at chemical plants, factories, commercial buildings and electricity plants.
One of the uses that facility managers may be interested in is the way cooling towers can complement a building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). The liquid in this equipment gets air- or water-cooled, then it's able to circulate back through the system and function efficiently. In most cases, water cooling is the preferred choice for HVAC purposes.
What Can Go Wrong With Cooling Towers
Building managers need to be on the lookout for any issues that may impede cooling towers from doing their job. If the tower can't remove the heat from whatever working liquid is depending on it, the systems may not operate efficiently and could break down completely.
Physical damage to the cooling tower could occur over time, due to exposure to the elements or natural wear and tear on the components. Drive shafts and other moving parts may lose functionality and need replacement, the fill material may not work as well as newer options, and corrosion can build up in the system.
While some of these problems may occur suddenly, in most cases a facility manager can prevent such issues through comprehensive monitoring. Innovations in sensor technology and building automation systems make it possible to gain greater visibility into the operation of cooling towers. They provide access to information that was not previously available. More importantly, if sensors can integrate with existing building automation systems through their connectivity, facility managers can refer to a single point to monitor all systems, getting frequent updates.
With this data source in place, building managers no longer need to play catch-up through reactive maintenance or replace parts that have a long life during preventive maintenance.
Facility managers can switch to a predictive maintenance model when they're empowered by this information. They learn exactly what the status of the cooling towers is at any time, which speeds up their reaction time in emergencies. Facility managers can also get more out of their equipment by knowing the exact moment it needs maintenance. The equipment's longevity is improved, and the operational costs of the towers are reduced due to this newfound efficiency.
Cooling towers have many applications for industrial and commercial buildings, but the cost to replace them can escalate quickly. By putting innovative sensor technology in place, facility managers can change the way they maintain this equipment to maximize its life and minimize unnecessary maintenance costs.