How Today’s Plastic Cooling Towers Slash Downtime and Service Costs

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Innovations in plastic cooling towers offer significant advantages over metal for process cooling applications

Cooling towers are so critical to many industrial processes that if even one goes down unexpectedly, the consequences can cause lost production, labor and materials. Given these considerations, and faced with a choice between metal or 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 to anchor any cooling system.

Plastic Advantages

New-generation plastic (polyethylene) towers are not only leak-proof and impervious to weather and chemicals, but they are now offer expanded cooling capacities; whether for water cooling or otherwise.

The inherent and design advantages of the latest plastic cooling towers also allow easier installation 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 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.

Some plastic tower manufacturers have also broken new ground by offering simpler cooling equipment in the form of direct-drive fan systems that require minimal maintenance because of less moving parts.

Successful Applications For Plastic Cooling Towers

“The decision was to replace our galvanized steel cooling towers with the newer molded-plastic design,” explains Matt Niemeyer, staff engineer for the brass division of Olin in East Alton, IL. “They were ten or twelve years old and had already rusted completely through in several areas.”

“We used a Delta Cooling Tower to overcome the inefficient, open loop system that had collapsed the fill under the weight of dirt and scale in the water,” continues Niemeyer.

Founded in 1971, Delta Cooling Towers, Inc. of Rockaway, New Jersey, is one of the leading innovators of plastic towers. With sales representatives and distributors worldwide, Delta offers a full line of factory assembled and modular plastic cooling towers in capacities up to 2,000 tons for a wide range of applications.

Delta warrants the tower casing or shell for 15 years.

“The new plastic tower is corrosion proof, and so we don’t have to worry about rust,” Niemeyer adds. “It was also the most economical price, and we were very pleased about that.”

More Power, Less Maintenence

“I needed a cooling tower with water-distribution power that is far from normal operating conditions,” says Glenn Burroughs, a test engineer with a major oilfield services firm. “The shakers emit a great deal of heat, and they’re cooled by a closed distilled water system. A three-year-old, 100-ton Delta plastic cooling tower is on one end of the chill water loop. Another similar unit was also used to reject the heat created by two 1,000 horsepower drilling mud pumps. It has been working fine for over 13 years.”

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Liza Wheatley