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The Facilities, Mechanical, Electrical Resource Center


June 3, 2003
Editor: Thomas Yoon

Publisher: Facworld Ezine


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Publisher's Note 

Hi there,

Cooling towers are used to cool down hot condenser water taken 
from chillers of air conditioning systems. The cooling effect 
of cooling towers are attributed to the evaporation of the 
water when it is blown through by air from the fans.

After some time of circulating through the cooling towers, the 
water becomes more and more concentrated with the dissolved 
salts in the water. The concentrated water has to be drained 
off and fresh new water added into the system to make it less 

However, when fresh water is added, it will not have any 
passivation chemicals to protect the piping and the component 
condenser parts from corrosion. So chemicals are added to 
protect the piping and the machinery.

For cooling tower water, the chemical used serve 2 basic 
functions - a corrosion inhibitor and a biocide.

The corrosion inhibitor is for preventing corrosion in the 
piping and the related parts. The biocide is to prevent growth 
of algae, bacteria and other micro organisms.

Every water treatment chemical company has its own formula and 
special concortions. A typical corrosion inhibitor may contain 
about 1 - 10% Potassium Hydroxide or similar alkali. This is 
then further diluted when mixed with the water in the cooling 
tower. Being an alkali, it will neutralize any acids found in 
the water that can cause corrosion to occur.

The cooling tower is installed outdoors. With the ample warmth 
from the chiller, fresh air and sunlight, the water it contains 
is a very ideal medium for the growth of micro organism. 

Micro organism growing in cooling tower water causes a lot of 
problems. Clumps of algae can cause chokages in the pump 
strainers. Long strands of microscopic plants can act like 
nets that can cause restrictions to the flow of the water. 
Some organisms cause diseases and other health related problems 
to people. A typical biocide contains Sodium hypochlorite with 
concentrations ranging from 10 - 20%. Again, this is further 
diluted when mixed with the cooling water.

Even with the dosing of chemicals, the cooling tower needs to 
be cleaned every now and then. Dusts from the air still manage 
to settle down inside the sump of the cooling tower. So does 
the remains of dead micro organisms. These can stick to the 
infills and prevent the proper distribution of the water flow. 

Sometimes cooling tower plastic infills get brittle due to the 
exposure to ultraviolet rays found in sunlight. They often 
break up into small particles that can choke even coarse 

Folks, it's time to clean up!

Until next time…

Thomas Yoon
Editor, Facworld Ezine
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Thomas Yoon, Publisher/Editor
4186 Bagan Luar Road
12000 Butterworth

Contact me at

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