February, 2020

Refurbish, replace & upgrade today

Refurbish, replace & upgrade today

Did you know that refurbishing a cooling tower can extend its life by 20 years? It’s not always necessary to install a completely new system when older cooling towers can be refurbished or upgraded at a fraction of the cost.

“For the past three decades, IWC has extensive experience in the refurbishment of cooling towers and specialises in cooling tower thermal upgrades. Additionally, our patented online refurbishment technology ensures that operational natural draught cooling towers do not have to be taken out of service during the maintenance process,” explains Roger Rusch, CEO of Industrial Water Cooling (IWC).

Plastic components deteriorate over the operating life of the cooling tower, becoming damaged due to maintenance activities or exposure to high winds and icing during winter.

“The humid environment of a cooling tower naturally leads to the build-up of contaminants resulting in clogging of the heat transfer medium and corrosion of metallic components. Over time, this build-up diminishes the efficiency of the cooling system and in severe cases, can result in the collapse of the cooling tower structure,” adds Rusch.

Inside a cooling tower, the fill is the medium used to put as much water surface area in contact with as much air as possible for the longest amount of time possible. Water is cooled as it trickles down the fill medium, thus aiding the heat transfer process. The almost constant exposure to water with high temperatures leads to wear and tear, particularly in older cooling towers that use wood as fill media which could easily be replaced with more suitable non-clogging fill materials like splash or trickle packs.

“PVC film-packs are the most commonly used type of packing in smaller industrial cooling towers. These are strong, resistant to chemicals and efficient,” explains Rusch. The softening temperature of PVC-fill material is 60°C, and we therefore advise that the maximum temperature of water entering the tower should not exceed 60°C and the continuous operating temperature should be less than 55°C.

“Where temperatures consistently exceed 60°C, operators should consider replacing fill media with a stainless-steel, non-clogging X-Grid splash pack. The X-Grid is also resistant to erosion, and there is no aging effect as found on plastic fill types. This pack can be steam cleaned, making it easy to maintain. The HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) Tubular Trickle pack is recommended for use in cooling water with a high solid content where film packs would be easily clogged. The individual tubes can be removed for cleaning and re-installed with ease.”

Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) is a modern composite material that is exceptionally strong, durable, corrosive resistant and the ideal material to consider when refurbishing a cooling tower. Refurbishment of cooling tower components with GRP elements is a cost-effective method to achieve maximum efficiency. Due to its unique physical properties, GRP can be easily moulded and manufactured to meet almost any cooling tower specifications.

“GRP components have a longer life expectancy when compared to a variety of construction materials, making them exceptionally economical over the long run,” says Rusch.

An industrial cooling tower’s life expectancy is between 15 and 25 years but refurbishment or upgrades can bring a cooling tower’s components up to original factory specifications, extending the system’s lifespan by another 20 years. IWC is an industry leader when it comes to the refurbishment of cooling towers, providing a turnkey services and spares solution to ensure plants run optimally at all times. IWC’s globally-recognised refurbishment solution includes the installation of fill material, drift eliminators, spray systems and nozzles as well as fan mechanicals, technology they’ve successfully employed in a number of natural, draught cooling tower high-level refurbishment projects for companies such as SASOL (Secunda) and EnergyAustralia.

Next Article

Petrochemical success – IWC’s latest natural draft cooling tower refurbishment