Boosting Cooling Tower Price-Performance Ratio
Value Added Can Tip the Scales
When evaluating the purchase of most types of capital equipment, the obvious factor to consider is price/performance. Yet, an important factor that most people would agree should not be overlooked is value added, an amenity or service — such as warranty or engineering assistance — that substantially increases the worth of the product, or potential return on investment (ROI).
When it comes to purchasing a cooling tower, an integral component of many HVAC systems, value added often takes on more significance than usual. This is because factors such as warranty or engineering and installation assistance can be crucial to performance and extend the service life of the equipment. Hence, value added may significantly enhance the price/performance ratio.
This potential is realized by the latest in cooling tower technology, which features a shell composed of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) engineered plastic, and offers both high performance and value-added appeal.
One of the major problems that can impact cooling tower performance is corrosion that is imposed by the environment (e.g., salt air, industrial pollutants) or cooling system waters and their required chemical water treatment. The maintenance factor can be expensive in terms of labor and downtime. Plus, the amount of chemicals required to inhibit corrosion can also be costly.
Conversely, HDPE engineered plastic cooling towers are impermeable to corrosion. Therefore, they require less maintenance and downtime, and normally require relatively inexpensive chemicals used to retard biological growth.
Delta Cooling Towers’ advanced HDPE models are available in single and modular configurations from 10 to 2,400 cooling tons. They are used for HVAC and heat exchanger applications in commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities.
When Joe Matthews, VP of construction at Vista Air Services, Houston, was considering a self-contained, water-cooled HVAC system for a customer near Galveston Bay, he primarily had system efficiencies on his mind. However, since a cooling tower would be essential to the system, he was also concerned about the salt air and corrosive emissions from several surrounding chemical plants that posed a corrosion risk.
Vista Air Services is a contractor that is involved in all aspects of HVAC systems. The application is a 66,000-square-foot industrial turbine repair station and training facility of Mitsubishi Power Systems, for its power generation turbines.
“B.R. Gonzales, a sales rep from AC Engineered Systems, one of our suppliers, suggested that we go with a Delta cooling tower because AC has had great success with those in Florida,” said Matthews. “Considering the potential for salt-air corrosion, we felt that what was appropriate for Florida would also be suitable for a plant in the proximity of Galveston Bay.”
Matthews also figured that the HDPE cooling tower would be cheaper to maintain. He was impressed when he learned that the capital investment required would also result in a savings.
“Considering the potential operating savings, I was surprised to learn that the initial purchase price was also substantially lower than many conventional models,” he said.
The water-cooled system that Vista sold to Mitsubishi was a space-saving design that would economize on plant space compared with an air-cooled system, which would entail massive package units.
“We installed four 40-ton air handlers mounted to the exterior walls, plus four 20-ton air handlers inside,” Matthews said. “With a typical 40-ton air-cooled package you’ll have a 450-square-foot footprint. With our water-cooled system, we are only taking up less than 30 square feet.”
Value Added Makes a Difference
A deciding factor among many Delta cooling tower customers is the 20-year warranty on the shell. A 20-year warranty is obviously indicative that the HDPE towers are expected to provide a long service life.
To ensure optimal operation and ease of installation, Delta also offers cooling system design and engineering assistance. When requested, the manufacturer even accommodates customers on cooling tower color.
In an HVAC application, engineered HDPE plastic cooling towers were recently installed at two Scott County Schools facilities in the Georgetown, Kentucky, area.
Adam Berning, sales engineer with manufacturer’s representative Blackmore & Glunt, explained that the county school board agreed to install HDPE cooling towers because of the economies offered in purchase price and imperviousness to the harsh chemicals required to treat the very hard water used in the system.
The director of maintenance stated that Georgetown, Kentucky has the “worst water on the face of the Earth,” Berning said. “He said they have to frequently clean their cooling towers, removing a salt-like residue that readily accumulates.”
Berning said the fact that the HDPE cooling tower will be virtually untouched by any corrosives was a major factor in the school board’s decision. Another important value-added factor was Delta’s ability to colorize the cooling tower installed on the roof at one location.
“The board wanted to have one of the cooling towers match the brick exterior of the school where it is installed.” Berning explained. “Ordinarily, getting a colorized cooling tower from the factory would be a challenge. The color was to be a custom rust-brown that the architect specified. Custom colors are available from the factory. They simply inject the appropriate-colored resin into the HDPE to make it exactly the color you want. So, when the cooling tower arrived, it matched the building quite well.”
Berning said that the manufacturer also provided special water drainage outlets and a cooling tower platform.
He added that the cooling system scheme at one of the schools called for the cooling tower to operate in two stages. Here again value was added through the inclusion of a variable-frequency drive (VFD) compatible fan motor with the cooling tower package.
“The first stage of cooling is provided when water is pumped through the tower without the tower fan running,” Berning said. “As the system fluid temperature rises above a threshold as determined by the building automation system, the cooling tower fan is turned on to provide additional capacity. Once the fan is on, a VFD modulates the fan speed to provide the right amount of cooling. As a standard, the motor provided by Delta Cooling Towers is rated for operation through a VFD, and the VFD they provide easily communicates with the building automation system.”
For more information, visit www.deltacooling.com.
Publication date: 6/23/2014