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How Wet Surface Air Coolers outperform cooling tower systems in Australia’s hot and arid climate

18-01-2021
By Alfa Laval

Heavy industries such as gas producers, chemical manufacturers of fertilizers and explosives as well as mining & mineral refineries often operate in some of Australia’s driest and most remote regions. Inside the processing plants, the temperatures need to be regulated to ensure all equipment can operate in optimal conditions.

For cooling, larger industrial premises typically use a combination of cooling towers with a shell and tube heat exchanger. This method is effective in milder temperatures, but once the external temperature exceeds 35°C, the cooling capabilities of the towers drop significantly.

The other issue stems from water quality and shortages. Cooling tower & shell-and-tube heat exchangers require a higher quality of water to be fed into the system, otherwise the inherent risk of fouling with the heat exchanger and with the cooling tower fill increases.

It’s clear that undercooled refineries can have a direct and costly impact on output and production capacity. However, processing plants only realize there is an issue with site cooling when sudden weather changes occur, for example during heat waves and water shortages.

 

Wet Surface Air Coolers offer a more effective alternative for processing plants

Alfa Laval’s Niagara Wet Surface Air Coolers (WSAC®) are custom-built, closed-loop cooling and condensing systems that are used in many heavy industry applications.

Closed-loop evaporative coolers provide the lowest possible cooling water temperatures without the use of refrigeration systems.

The system achieves the lowest possible temperatures with evaporation at the tube bundle surface, close to the wet-bulb temperature of the surrounding climate.

 

Another unique feature is the ability to work with low quality or site effluent water. The empty basin and drenching sprays allow evaporative cooling with water containing moderate levels of solids. Possible water sources include effluent dams, RO concentrate or even seawater.

Blowdown (refuse water) from WSAC’s can be curtailed with higher cycles of concentration than is possible with a standard cooling tower. As a consequence, minimal makeup water required by the cooling system. 

 

All-in-one solution saves room and energy

Compared with cooling tower systems, the WSAC also reduces site footprint as it offers an ‘all-in-one’ solution. The system doesn’t require a separate heat exchanger as it can cool directly within the process. This eliminates the requirement for a separate pumping station which saves on energy.

WSAC systems come in all sizes from small, packaged units to large field-erected systems, and are fully supported across Australia with local service. Learn more about WSAC at alfalaval.com.au and speak to one of our Australia-based engineers for more information and pricing details.

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