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COOLING TOWER

Statement
To cool a water flow rate of 100 kg/s from 40 ºC to 33 ºC a cooling tower is used. Ambient air is at 30
ºC, 93 kPa and 50%RH. Assuming that the air reaches thermodynamic equilibrium with incoming
water, evaluate:
a) Dew-point and wet-bulb temperatures, and humidity ratio of the incoming air.
b) Humidity ratio of the exiting air.
c) Air mass flow rate needed.
d) Water mass flow rate evaporated.
e) Heat dissipation.
Se desea enfriar una corriente de agua de 100 kg/s desde 40 °C hasta 33 °C en una torre por contacto
con aire atmosférico a 30 °C, 93 kPa y 50% de humedad. Suponiendo que el aire alcanza el
equilibrio termodinámico con el agua, se pide:
a) Temperatura de rocío, temperatura de saturación adiabática y humedad absoluta de la atmósfera.
b) Humedad absoluta a la salida.
c) Gasto de aire necesario.
d) Gasto de agua evaporado.
a) Calor evacuado.

Solution.
a) Dew-point and wet-bulb temperatures, and humidity ratio of the incoming air.
For the dew point temperature, p* (Tdew ) = φ p* (T ) , using Antoine equation, one gets:

p* (Tdew ) p* (T ) B B
ln = ln φ + ln → A− = ln φ + A −
p0 p0 Tdew T
+C +C
T0 T0
T 1 1
=
→ dew = −C − (−39)=
→ Tdew 18 ºC
T0 1 ln φ 1 ln 0.5
− −
T 303 K
+C B + (−39) 3985
T0 1K

For the wet-bulb temperatures, using (8.13), one gets:

M va M va
c pa ( T1 − T0 ) + h=
LV0 c pa ( Twet − T0 ) + hLV0
p p
− 1 − 1
φ1 p* (T1 ) p* (Twet )
0.622
(1000 J/(kg ⋅ K)) ( 303 K - 273 K ) + ( 2.5 MJ/kg ) =
93 kPa
−1
0.5 ⋅ (4.25 kPa)
0.622
= (1000 J/(kg ⋅ K)) ( Twet − 273 K ) + ( 2.5 MJ/kg )
93 kPa
−1
p* (Twet )

with a numerical solution of Twet=295 K (22 ºC). And from the humidity ratio expression (8.7):

M va 0.622
=w = = 0.015
p 93 kPa
−1 −1
φ p* (T ) 0.5 ⋅ (4.25 kPa)

b) Humidity ratio of the exiting air.


Thermodynamic equilibrium at the air exit means that air is at 40 ºC and saturated, thus:

M va 0.622
=w = = 0.054
p 93 kPa
−1 −1
φ p* (T ) 1 ⋅ (7.38 kPa)

Fig. 1. Cooling tower flows.

c) Air mass flow rate needed.


Mass and energy balance equations for the tower:

mass balance for dry air: m a1 = m a 2


mass balance for water: m a1 w1 + m= 3 m a 2 w2 + m 4
energy balance: m a1h1 + m 3h3 = m a 2 h2 + m 4 h4

with w1=0.015, w2=0.054, h1=68.4 kJ/kg and h2=182 kJ/kg. Solving:

( ) ( )
− T0 ) m a c pa (T2 − T0 ) + w2 hLV0 + ( m 3 − m a ( w2 − w1 ) ) cw (T4 − T0 )
m a c pa (T1 − T0 ) + w1hLV0 + m 3cw (T3=

m a (1 ⋅ ( 30 ) + 0.015 ⋅ 2500 ) + 100 ⋅ 4.2 ⋅ ( 40 )= m a (1 ⋅ ( 40 ) + 0.054 ⋅ 2500 ) + (100 − m a ( 0.054 − 0.015 ) ) ⋅ 4.2 ⋅ ( 33)

finally yields m a =28 kg/s.

d) Water mass flow rate evaporated.


From the water mass balance, m 3 − m 4 =1.1 kg/s of water evaporated, that must be supplied to
keep the system steady.
e) Heat dissipation.
The cooling tower was assumed adiabatic in the energy balance above, as usual, i.e. there is no
heat dissipation for that system. But the intention here is to evaluate the energy that would had
to be extracted from the incoming water to cool it down to the exit temperature, that is
=Q m 3cw (T3 − T4 ) =2.9 MW.

Comments. Besides adding water to balance the vaporization, some purging is required from time to
time to avoid dissolved-salt build-up (added water from the tap may contain some 0.5 g/kg of
dissolved salts). Biocides must also be added to the water, to prevent microorganisms proliferation
(legionella is a typical lung-disease related to poor maintenance of cooling towers).

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