Water, And The Health of your Refinery

One of the most important components of any oil refinery, HVAC system, or petrochemical plant is the use of a cooling tower, or multiple units, that are responsible for transferring the heat from the machinery that is used into the air. Wet cooling towers are the most common, utilizing water as the primary conduit for exchanging heat from the machine into the water, and through the process of evaporation, sending it up into the air. Most of the time these work very efficiently, yet when contaminants begin to become abundant in the water, this is where you can run into some problems. Let’s look at a few of the contaminants that can be in the water that is used by the cooling tower, and then show you what chemicals are used for a cooling tower water treatment.

Common Contaminants In A Cooling Tower Water System

When water is first introduced into a cooling tower, it is primarily clean. However, as time goes by, more calcium carbonate will begin to build up, sticking onto the pipes inside, causing heat transfer to become less efficient. This can be prevented by filtering the water, specifically using screens and filters that can keep the calcium carbonate at low levels. However, the main problem that is experienced with cooling towers across the world is the introduction of different types of microorganisms into the water which can cause three specific problems.

How Microorganisms Can Compromise Cooling Tower Operations

The water that is circulating through the cooling tower is primarily going to be warm. This is due to its recirculation through the system, constantly absorbing the heat. In this warm water, microorganisms such as bacteria can form, leading to many problems that can occur. Bacteria such as Legionella bacteria can produce hydrochloric acid and hydrogen sulfide which can begin to disintegrate the metal in the pipes. Additionally, as the bacteria continue to grow more abundant, they will begin to stick to the inside of the pipes. This can prevent proper heat transfer as this biofilm continues to grow, and it can be stopped as long as the bacteria is treated.

Eliminating Legionella Bacteria From Cooling Tower Water

By introducing bromine or chlorine into the water, this can begin to kill off the bacteria that is growing. This is a very traditional chemical biocidal treatment, one that works very well. Once the bacteria is under control, the amount of acid in the water will also diminish, and the biofilm will also become less. As long as you are filtering for the scale, the inorganic salts or calcium carbonate, you should be able to keep your operation running as smoothly as possible by removing these common contaminants.

Now that you have a better idea of how a cooling tower works, and the contaminants that must be removed from the water, you can contact a company that specializes in cleansing cooling tower water, and also introducing the chemicals that were mentioned, to keep the Legionella and other microorganisms under control.

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