Evaporative cooling is growing in demand as cooling needs are expanding. Everything from data centers that make the cloud function to bitcoin mining operations throw off massive amounts of heat. At the same time, business owners are paying more attention to their companies’ carbon footprints, which also makes this a more popular option.
Evaporative cooling works just the way it sounds. Liquid warms to the point of evaporation and removes heat. It’s the same principle the human body uses to cool itself. Because evaporative cooling uses the already-present conditions, it reduces energy costs for these operations, said Adam Radford, global project manager at Evapco. It also allows these operations to reduce both their carbon footprints and their actual physical footprints.
“People only have so much real estate to work with,” Radford said.
A study by Eurovent found that a refrigeration system using wet cooling towers has the lowest year-round CO2 footprint. The study used a variety of load profiles, climate conditions, and control strategies. One year of operation was simulated for each system; the same yearly load profile and weather conditions were used in all simulations.
“We’re utilizing energy that’s already existing in the air,” said Ryan Reimer, product manager for DriSteem.
Addressing Environmental Concerns
This makes evaporative cooling a good choice in areas pushing for increased electrification. It also makes sense as more companies are promoting their commitment to environmental goals in general. Of course, another big environmental challenge seems to work against evaporative cooling — water conservation.
“We’re running out of water as a resource in a lot of areas,” Radford said.
This is especially true in the Southwest, which has undergone a megadrought for more than 20 years. Bodies of water the area depends on — the reservoirs along the Colorado River, such as Lake Meade — are at the lowest recorded levels.
Some facility operators in this region are looking at dry cooling as an alternative, Radford said. This process is similar to evaporative cooling, but it uses air running through large fins. Many operators, however, look for solutions that balance water usages with power usage.
“They look for hybrid solutions that satisfy both of those,” Radford said.
Reimer said customers are asking for more real-time info about the function of their evaporative cooling systems all the time in order to help control energy costs.
The other main concern is keeping the water from becoming a breeding ground for disease. Reimer said water treatment is a huge part of the evaporative cooling process. The company’s systems use treatments such as reverse osmosis, ultraviolet exposure, and ionization to remove contaminants without heating the water.
New markets are emerging all the time for evaporative cooling. Some are due to new technology, such as the production of hydrogen fuel cells. Others are from old institutions, such as museums seeking new solutions to their special needs.
“We had a record-breaking year last year and we expect a record-breaking year again this year,” Radford said. “We don’t see it slowing down any time soon.”