Cooling Tower Water Treatment Using Industrial Vortex Generator Technology for Water and Energy Savings
June 25, 2021
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
Mukesh Khattar, Ph.D., Sara Beaini, Ph.D., Aaron Tam Alekhya Vaddiraj, Ammi Amarnath
The industrial vortex generator technology for cooling towers (IVG-CT) provides an innovative low-energy physical method for treating water in cooling towers for commercial and industrial applications, providing water, energy, and chemical savings. The researchers installed and evaluated the technology at two commercial building host sites in Southern California: a hotel (two 450-ton chillers) and large pharmaceutical company (two 1250-ton chillers). IVG-CT can supplement traditional water treatment practices with a more environmentally sound, repeatable, and efficient approach that achieves water savings by safely increasing cooling tower cycles of concentrations, a metric used to measure the amount of water being reused in the cooling tower, and energy savings by improving the heat transfer in the chiller heat exchanger. The IVG-CT is a plug-and-play side-stream water treatment unit combining multiple physical treatments. Reduction in scaling and fouling of heat exchangers, coupled with removal of microbubbles and hydrodynamic cavitation, helps increase the overall heat transfer of the cooling tower. Measurement and verification consisted of monitoring equipment power consumption and chiller cooling capacity for a year. A comparison of kilowatt-hours per ton-hour for each chiller before and after installation of IVG-CT (following the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol) showed a reduction of chiller plant energy of between 5.4 percent and 6.4 percent at the two sites. The results confirmed substantial water and chemical savings at both host sites: 30 percent for the hotel site with typical practices and 15 percent for the pharmaceutical site with best practices. Chemical use cost reductions ranged from more than 30 percent at the hotel site to around 45 percent at the pharmaceutical site.