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Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909

www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Thermal performances investigation of a wet cooling tower


M. Lemouari a, M. Boumaza b,*
, I.M. Mujtaba c

a
Department of Processes Engineering, Faculty of Sciences and Engineering Sciences, University of Bejaia, Algeria
b
Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, King Saud University, P.O. Box 800, Riyadh 11421, Saudi Arabia
c
School of Engineering, Design and Technology, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK

Received 14 February 2006; accepted 29 August 2006


Available online 18 October 2006

Abstract

This paper presents an experimental investigation of the thermal performances of a forced draft counter ow wet cooling tower lled
with an VGA (Vertical Grid Apparatus) type packing. The packing is 0.42 m high and consists of four (04) galvanised sheets having a
zigzag form, between which are disposed three (03) metallic vertical grids in parallel with a cross sectional test area of 0.0222 m2
(0.15 m 0.148 m). This study investigates the eect of the air and water ow rates on the cooling water range as well as the tower char-
acteristic, for dierent inlet water temperatures. Two operating regimes were observed during the air water contact, a pellicular regime
(PR) and a bubble and dispersion regime (BDR). These two regimes can determine the best way to promote the heat transfer. The BDR
regime seems to be more ecient than the pellicular regime, as it enables to cool larger water ow rates. The comparison between the
obtained results and those found in the literature for other types of packing indicates that this type possesses very interesting thermal
performances.
 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Wet; Cooling; Tower; Packing; Flow; Thermal; Characteristics

1. Introduction mental analysis of the heat and mass transfer processes in


these equipments.
Usually industrial processes produce large quantities of Simpson and Sherwood [1] studied the performances of
heat which must be permanently removed in order to main- forced draft cooling towers with a 1.05 m packing height
tain standard operating parameters. Cooling towers lled consisted of wood slats. Kelly and Swenson [2] studied the
with packing are widely used to dissipate large heat loads heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics of splash
from these processes, such as power generation units, grid type cooling tower packing. The authors correlated
chemical and petrochemical plants and refrigeration and the tower characteristic with the water/air mass ow ratio
air-conditioning systems, to the atmosphere. Their princi- and mentioned that the factors aecting the value of the
ple is based on heat and mass transfer using direct contact tower characteristic were found to be the water-to-air ratio,
between ambient air and hot water through some types of the packed height, the deck geometry and, to a very small
packing. Indeed, the type of packing used in cooling tower extent, the hot water temperature. They also mentioned that
has an important role in the tower as it controls the heat the tower characteristic at a given water-to-air ratio was
and mass transfer processes between water and air. Several found to be independent of wet bulb temperature and air
researchers have investigated this subject through experi- loading, within the limits of air loading used in commercial
cooling towers. Barile et al. [3] studied the performances of
a turbulent bed cooling tower. They [3] correlated the tower
characteristic with the water/air mass ow ratio.
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +966 14679151; fax: +966 14678770. El-Dessouky [4] studied the thermal and hydraulic per-
E-mail address: boumaza_m@hotmail.com (M. Boumaza). formances of a three-phase uidized bed cooling tower.

1359-4311/$ - see front matter  2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2006.08.014
M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909 903

Nomenclature

a contact area airwater, m2 V volume of the exchange core, m3


G air mass ow rate, kg/h G0 air mass ux, kg/m2 h
L water mass ow rate, kg/h L0 water mass ux, kg/m2 h
T1 inlet water temperature (C) T2 outlet water temperature (C)
t1 inlet air temperature (C) t2 outlet air temperature (C)
R cooling water temperature range (C) KaV/L tower characteristic (dimensionless)

He used spongy rubber balls 12.7 mm in diameter and with mances. Therefore, this study presents an experimental
a density of 375 kg/m3 as a packing, and developed a cor- investigation of the thermal performances of cooling tow-
relation between the tower characteristic, hot water inlet ers lled with the V.G.A. type packing. This packing
temperature, static bed height, and the water/air mass ux consists of vertical grids disposed between walls in the form
ratio. Bedekar et al. [5] studied experimentally the perfor- of zigzag. The principle of its performance is as follows: the
mance of a counter ow packed bed mechanical cooling gas (air) enters by the bottom of the tower and arrives by
tower, using a lm type packing. Their results were pre- the top of that while crossing several times the vertical
sented in terms of tower characteristics, water outlet tem- grids, whereas the liquid (water) is introduced at the top
perature and eciency as functions of the water to air of the tower and ows along the vertical grids.
ow rate ratio, L/G. They concluded that the tower perfor- The obtained results which relate mainly the tower char-
mance decrease with an increase in the L/G ratio, however acteristic as well as the cooling water range temperature
they did not suggest any correlation in their work. Goshay- (35 C and 50 C) with the air and water ow rates seem
shi and Missenden [6] also studied experimentally the mass to be in agreement with those shown in the literature. This
transfer and the pressure drop characteristics of many suggests the validation of these results.
types of corrugated packing, including smooth and rough
surface corrugated packing in atmospheric cooling towers. 2. Experimental apparatus and procedure
Their experiments were conducted in a 0.15 m 0.15 m
counter ow sectional test area with 1.60 m packing height. The experimental apparatus used in this study is illus-
From their experimental data, a correlation between the trated in Fig. 1. It consists mainly of a cooling tower (1)
packing mass transfer coecient and the pressure drop which represents the main device used in this test, a cold
was proposed. Milosavljevic and Heikkila [7] carried out water basin (2), a storage tank (3) which contains two elec-
experimental measurements on two pilot-scale cooling tow- tric heaters (12), a water pump (4), a ow meter device (5),
ers in order to analyze the performance of dierent cooling a by-pass pipe (6), a water distributor (7), a fan (8), an air
tower lling materials. They tested seven types of counter distribution chamber (9), a water-drops separator (10), a
ow lm type lls and correlated their pressure drop data thermostat (11). Auxiliaries items are also used such as
as well as the volumetric heat transfer coecient with the temperatures and pressures measuring devices (13), (14)
water and air ow rates. More recently, Kloppers and Kro- as well as system for the regulation of water levels (15) in
ger [8] studied the loss coecient for wet cooling tower lls. the feed basin. The cooling tower [12] has a parallel form
They tested trickle, splash and lm type lls in a counter of dimensions 206 mm 148 mm 550 mm, and is made
ow wet cooling tower with a cross sectional test area of of Plexiglas. It is lled with the VGA type packing hav-
1.5 m 1.5 m. They [8] proposed a new form of empirical ing a cross-sectional area of 150 mm 148 mm, height of
equation that correlates ll loss coecient as a function 420 mm and consists of four (04) galvanised zigzag form
of the air and water mass ow rates. There exist several sheets, between which are disposed three (03) metallic ver-
other mathematical models which can correlate heat and tical grids in parallel. The distance between each two grids
mass transfer processes occurring in wet cooling towers, is 50 mm (width of the cell). The water distributor [12] is
such as the models proposed and discussed by Khan made of copper tubes of 10/12 and 6/8 mm diameters,
et al. [9] and Kloppers and Kroger [10]. respectively. Fine droplets sweeping the width of the zigzag
The main objective of this study is to investigate the starting from the top of the tower are introduced through
thermal performances of a forced draft counter ow wet this distributor. The considered measurements which were
cooling tower lled with an V.G.A. type packing. This taken consist of the temperatures increase (dry and wet) of
type of packing which was rst proposed for the mass the air at the entry and exit of the tower, as well as the inlet
transfer processes between gas and liquid [11] has not been and outlet water temperatures.
used in cooling water systems using direct contact between The experimental procedure is as follows:
water and air. Recently, Lemouari [12] and Lemouari and
Boumaza [13,14] used this packing in an evaporative cool- Initiating the circulation of a water ow, and lighting
ing system to study its thermal and hydraulic perfor- the electrical heaters at the same time.
904 M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909

tw2 td2

17
10

7
T1

I
II

13
16 15
tw1 td1 2 3

T2
6
14

11

4
8 9
12

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the experimental apparatus. (1) The cooling tower lled with the V.G.A. type packing, (2) load tank, (3) water basin, (4)
water circulation pump, (5) ow meter, (6) by-pass pipe, (7) water distributor, (8) fan, (9) air distribution chamber, (10) drift eliminator, (11) thermostat,
(12) heaters, (13) digital temperature indicator, (14) manometer, (15) oat valve, (16) make-up tank, (17) connection for orice dierential pressure, (I)
zigzag walls, (II) vertical grids.

As soon as the temperature of feed water exceeds few The second parameter is the tower characteristic, KaV/L,
degrees the desired temperature, air is injected by which is the most widely used in practice to dene the ther-
switching on the fan. mal performances of wet cooling towers, and is dened as
After a few moments, the temperature of water Eq. (2)
decreases and increases again by its initial value (set Z T1
KaV C Pw dT
point) corresponding to the measurement values of the 2
dry and wet temperatures of the air at the entry and L T2 Hw  H

the exit of the tower and the inlet and outlet water Eq. (2) is solved numerically to evaluate the tower charac-
temperature. teristic for dierent experimental operating conditions. The
following equations were used for the numerical
3. Thermal performance of an experimental cooling tower integration:
H w aekT 3
In this study, two dierent parameters were used in
determining experimentally the thermal performances of Hw is the Enthalpy of saturated air where a and k are given
the cooling tower, the cooling water range (R), which is by:
dened as the dierence between the inlet water and the a 18:573; k 0:05610 for 14  C 6 T 6 36  C;
outlet water temperature,
a 20:231; k 0:05314 for 17  C 6 T 6 44  C;
R T1  T2 1 a 20:900; k 0:05200 for 17  C 6 T 6 51  C:
M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909 905

H H 1 C pw L=GT 1  T 4 A second regime, called bubble and dispersion regime


(BDR), appears with relatively larger water ow rates,
where H1 is the enthalpy of moist air at the entry of the
as reported by Lemouari [12]. Therefore, these two
tower, and is given by the following equation [17]:
hydrodynamic regimes, enable to identify two dierent
H 1 1:005 1:884wt1d 2502:3w 5 states of heat transfer phenomena were distinguished,
w = specic humidity of moist air (kg/kg). as shown in Figs. 47.
Eq. (3) was obtained by approximating the enthalpy of
4.1. Tower characteristic
the air in saturation, Hw and using the values tabulated
in the literature [1517].
Figs. 24 show the variation of the tower characteristic,
KaV/L, with the water/air mass ow ratio, L/G, for an inlet
4. Results and discussion water temperature of 35 C, 43 C and 50 C, respectively.
The tower characteristic decreases with an increase of L/G.
Two operating regimes were observed during the air and This decrease becomes less pronounced as L/G increases,
water contact, through the VGA type packing in the for the case of the bubble and dispersion regime (BDR).
cooling tower: The eect of L/G on the tower characteristic, as explained
by El-Dessouky [4], can be attributed to the decrease in the
A rst regime, called pellicular regime (PR), exists with fraction of water that evaporates per unit of inlet water. It
low water ow rates. has also been observed during the experiments, that an

100.0
Tower characteristic, KaV/L

10.0 Inlet water temperature: 35 C

PR
RBD
Reference [15]
1.0
Reference [6]

0.1
0.1 1.0 10.0
L/G

Fig. 2. Tower characteristic vs. water/air mass ow ratio: experimental results and correlations in [6,15].

10.0
Tower characteristic, KaV/L

Inlet water temperature: 43C

PR
1.0 RBD
Barile et al. [3]: d = 19.05 mm
Barile et al. [3]: d = 38.10 mm

0.1
0.1 1.0 10.0
L/G

Fig. 3. Tower characteristic vs. water/air mass ow ratio: experimental results and Barile et als correlations [3].
906 M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909

10.0

Tower characteristic, KaV/L


Inlet water temperature: 50 C

PR
1.0 RBD
Kelly and Swenson [2]

0.1
0.1 1.0 10.0
L/G

Fig. 4. Tower characteristic vs. water/air mass ow ratio: experimental results and Kelly and Swensons correlation.

increase in water ow rate is accompanied by an increase in T 1 50  C : Pellicular regimePR :


the water hold-up in the cells of the packing, and this might 0:40
KaV =L 0:84L=G 6:e
cause a decrease in the evaporation rates of water into the
air stream. As can be seen, the tower characteristic is higher Bubble and dispersionBDR :
for the lowest values of L/G, corresponding to the lower KaV =L 1:86L=G0:71 6:f
water ow rate, which presents best cooling. Thus, it is
observed that the eect of increasing water ow rate on within a standard deviation of 20.4%9.10%, respectively.
the tower characteristic becomes weaker compared to that The results were then compared with those obtained in
of the air as soon as the bubble and dispersion regime is the literature for other types of packing. These correlations
reached. This eect, contrary to that of air, increases with are as follows.
the increase in the inlet water temperature, and can be The correlation given in [15]:
attributed to the energy absorbed by the mass of air, is pro- KaV =L 1:700L=G
0:57
7:a
vided by the water. This energy becomes more important as
the water ow rate and inlet water temperature are where L/G = 0.35  2.5; packing high: 0.48 m.
increased. Gochaychi and Missendens correlation [6]:
As already mentioned, the tower characteristic, KaV/L, KaV =L 12:96L=G
0:60
7:b
is inuenced by the air and water ow rates. Therefore in
order to derive an equation characterizing the heat where (L/S) = L 0 = 0.45  2.22 kg/s m2 and (G/S) = G 0 =
exchange through the VGA type packing, results of 0.2  1.50 kg/s m2; packing high: 1.60 m.
the three tests are gathered, and the following correlations Barile et al.s correlations [3]:
were proposed for each inlet water temperature (T1): Diameter of the particles, d = 19.05 mm:
0:514
KaV =L 1:118L=G 7:c1

T 1 35 C : Pellicular regimePR :
Diameter of the particles, d = 38.10 mm:
0:51
KaV =L 0:79L=G 6:a 0:430
KaV =L 1:147L=G 7:c2
Bubble and dispersion regimeBDR :
089 where (L/G) = 0.7  3; packing high: 0.46 m.
KaV =L 2:22L=G 6:b
Kelly and Swensons correlation [2]:
0:62
KaV =L 0:07 1:62L=G 7:d
within a standard deviation of 14%8.90%, respectively.
where (L/G) = 0.6  3.5; packing high: 6.1 m.

T 1 43 C : Pellicular regimePR : It should be noted that the choice of the correlations for
0:48
comparison is justied by the operating conditions at
KaV =L 0:79L=G 6:c which the experiments were carried out, such as the air
Bubble and dispersion regimeBDR : and water ow rates ranges and the inlet water tempera-
0:81 ture. The height of the packing was also considered in
KaV =L 1:83L=G 6:d
the comparison.
Through Figs. 24, the correlations (7.a7.d) are in gen-
within a standard deviation of 11.75%9.57%, respectively. eral way, higher than the results of the Pellicular regime
M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909 907

whereas they are lower than those for the Bubble and Dis- cooling water range increases gradually with an increase
persion Regime. The Goshayshi and Missendens correla- in the air ow rate. Such evolution can be attributed to
tion (7.b) [6] is very high to those obtained in this work. an increase in the water mass that evaporates per unit mass
The dierence can be attributed to the height of packing of inlet air stream. This increase becomes more pronounced
which is about 3.5 times lower in the case of this study. in the bubble and dispersion regime, and can be explained
The ow congurations of uids through the packing have mainly by the increase in the inner side of the area between
also a signicant eect. air and water which becomes important in such case. On
In addition, It is observed that the cooling water range the other side, a decrease in the cooling water range is
obtained by dierent authors, is weak compared with the observed while increasing, L. The highest variation is
range using the VGA type packing as this can reach reached with the lowest water ow rates corresponding to
20 C, 26 C and 33 C (Figs. 57) for inlet water tempera- lower values of L/G. Such evolution is primarily explained
tures of 35 C, 43 C and 50 C, respectively, showing the by the development of a resistance to the heat transfer at
good thermal performances of cooling tower lled with the water side which increases as the water ow rates
the VGA type packing. increase, and therefore decreases the transfer rate. It can
also be shown through these gures that the cooling water
4.2. Cooling water range range increases with the increase in the inlet water temper-
ature, which can be explained by the energy transferred
Figs. 57 show the variation of the cooling water range, from water to air, which is more intense at higher inlet
R, with the air ow rate, G, for several values of the water water temperature than at lesser inlet water temperature.
ow rate, L, carried out at dierent inlet water tempera- Indeed, the best water cooling is obtained at higher inlet
tures: 35 C, 43 C and 50 C. For each value of L, the water temperature and/or lower water ow rate.

40
L = 0.010 kg/s

L = 0.015 kg/s
Cooling water range,C

L = 0.020 kg/s

L = 0.025 kg/s
20
L = 0.030 kg/s

L = 0.035 kg/s

L = 0.040 kg/s

L = 0.045 kg/s
0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
Air mass flux, kg/h.m

Fig. 5. Cooling water range vs. air ow rate for several values of water ow rate at inlet water temperature of 35 C.

40
L = 0.010 kg/s
L = 0.015 kg/s
Cooling water range, C

L = 0.020 kg/s
L = 0.025 kg/s
20
L = 0.030 kg/s
L = 0.035 kg/s
L = 0.040 kg/s
L = 0.045 kg/s
0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
Air mass flux, kg/h.m

Fig. 6. Cooling water range vs. air ow rate for several values of water ow rate at inlet water temperature of 43 C.
908 M. Lemouari et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 27 (2007) 902909

40
L = 0.010 kg/s
L = 0.015 kg/s

Cooling water range, C


L = 0.020 kg/s
L = 0.025 kg/s
20
L = 0.030 kg/s
L = 0.035 kg/s
L = 0.040 kg/s
L = 0.045 kg/s
0
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
Air mass flux, kg/h.m

Fig. 7. Cooling water range vs. air ow rate for several values of water ow rate at inlet water temperature of 50 C.

5. Conclusion temperatures, in towers of higher size, in order to complete


the conclusions of this study.
In this study, thermal performances of a forced draft
counter ow wet cooling tower lled with an VGA type
packing has been investigated for a wide range of experi- References
mental ow rates of air and water. The packing used is
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