Cooling towers are heat rejection devices operated to lower the ambient temperatures within enclosed spaces. They are also used to remove heat from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in buildings. Moreover, in industrial settings, cooling towers are used to maintain the temperature of chillers and attain energy efficiency. They are used in the chemical, oil & gas, food processing, and power generation plant industries.
Cooling towers function by moving the heat from warm water through the process of evaporation. The circulating warm water is transported to the cooling tower, where a fraction of it is evaporated into the air through the tower. The heat is extracted through the process of evaporation from the circulating water, which in turn decreases the temperature of the remaining water. Cooling towers are available in different sizes ranging from small roof-top towers to huge hyperboloid structures depending upon the applications. There are two types of cooling towers: open cooling towers and closed-circuit cooling towers.
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The most common cooling towers worldwide are the open type. The most important factor bolstering the demand for open cooling towers is their efficient, economical, and simple design. However, closed circuit cooling towers enable minimum contamination and evaporation of water. This, in turn, reduces the overall water loss in the cooling process. But, closed circuit cooling towers offer these features at the expense of high cost. Hence, closed circuit cooling towers have seen limited adoption in applications where cost is not a major constraint and in the regions with ample fresh water.
Based on the heat transfer method, cooling towers are classified into evaporative/wet, dry, and hybrid types. The evaporative heat transfer method works on a principle analogous to perspiration. The circulating warm water is first distributed on a fill pack and then cooled by blown air. During this process, a small amount of water is evaporated, whereas the remaining water is collected at the cooling tower lower base. This water is re-circulated in the system for cooling purposes. The dry cooling method uses the natural air present in the atmosphere for cooling instead of water. Dry cooling towers do not require mid-heat exchangers as required in closed circuit cooling towers. This cooling method is analogous to the function of a radiator that uses the air in the atmosphere for cooling purposes.
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As a result of these features, dry cooling towers involve less maintenance and has a higher average life expectancy. Hybrid cooling towers have the advantages and disadvantages of both dry and wet cooling towers. They incorporate both the evaporative and dry cooling units at the end-point of the closed or open circuit cooling towers. This enables a reduction in the visible plume formed during evaporative cooling. Additionally, hybrid cooling towers can save approximately over 50% of the water as compared to wet cooling towers. Consequently, hybrid towers have seen wide adoption in recent times and are expected to drive the cooling towers market during the forecast period.
The global cooling towers market is highly fragmented. Major players include Baltimore Aircoil Company, GEA Heat Exchangers Group, SPX Corporation, Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd., SPIG S.p.A. Hamon Group (Esindus S.A.), Liang Chi Industry Company, FANS, a.s., and EVAPCO-BLCT Dry Cooling, Inc. With positive global economic growth predicted, the market for cooling towers is anticipated to grow at a fast pace in the coming years. Energy-efficient, low-cost cooling towers are anticipated to drive the market over the forecast period.
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