How Do Cooling Towers Work?  

How Do Cooling Towers Work?

How Cooling Towers Work


Cooling towers are heat exchangers, inside of which heat is taken from the water by contact between the air and water. The transfer of heat occurs through the heat exchange between water and air and through the evaporation of a little part of the water that needs cooling. This allow it to cool to a temperature lower than the ambient temp, which is one important advantage compared to dry coolers.

Although, a cooling tower is not just a chimney of smoke. The mist is regular steam with the same composition as a cloud.

Different Cooling Tower Types

cooling tower types chart diagram

All cooling towers are not made for the same purposes and not all cooling towers will work for every application or industrial processes. However, this article should help you understand the various different types of cooling towers and what they are used for.

Type 1. Crossflow Cooling Tower

how crossflow cooling towers work

In this cooling tower type, water flow vertically through the cooling tower fill media while the air horizontally flows across the falling water. Hence the name "crossflow". Due to the crossing of flows negates the need for the air to pass through the distribution system. This allows for gravity to make the hot water flow via gravity into the distribution basins on top of the tower directly above the fill media.

Type 2. Counterflow Cooling Towers

how counterflow cooling towers work

In this type of cooling tower, the air flows vertically upwards, opposite/counter of the water flow in the fill media. In this cooling tower type, its not possible to use the basins gravity due to the air flowing vertically. Instead these types of cooling towers use spray systems that are pressurized to spray the water on top of the fill media. Also, the nozzles and pipes are spread far apart so that they do not restrict any airflow.

Type 3. Induced Draft & Forced Draft Cooling Towers


In order for these induced draft cooling towers to pull air through the fill media they use cooling tower fan to induce the air. On forced draft cooling towers the air is forced/pushed by fan blowers at the bottom of the air inlet louver.

Type 4. Natural Draft & Fan Assisted Natural Draft Cooling Towers


Type 5. Factory Assembled Cooling Towers (FAP) Factory Assembled Product

FAP cooling towers need to be assembled on site. However, smaller factory assembled coolings towers can be shipped already in tact. These type of cooling towers can be any of the main 4, crossflow, counterflow, induced draft and forced draft depending on the application or industrial need. TCIA cooling towers are widely used for light industrial applications and HVAC.

Field-Erected-Towers (FEP) Field Erected Product

FEP cooling towers are construction on-site. Large FEP's come prefabricated and shipped to the site for assembly. The manufacturer of the cooling tower usually assembles the product. FEP cooling towers usually come in two types: counter flow and crossflow depending on the application.

Field-erected cooling towers are usually constructed on the final destination site. The large FEP is usually prefabricated, marked by piece and shipped to the construction site for assembly. The cooling tower manufacturer usually handles all of the final assembly and labor involved.

These type of towers can be counterflow or crossflow depending on the application. For heavy industrial applications or more power needed, field-erected cooling towers can be built to your exact specifications, structure, performance, plume abatement and drift. Towers can be divided into types: based on tower fan type, water flow or efficiency, shape, cooling water quality etc... The classification is based on the cooling circuit type which is what determines the exact operation of a cooling tower.

Cooling Tower Maintenance


Polluted cooling towers soon lead to reduced cooling and negatively influences the reliability of the cooling tower installation.  However, this can be easily avoided by performing regularly scheduled preventative maintenance. This will also minimize the risk of legionella.

Maintenance Regimens:

Review major cooling tower systems and their appropriate maintenance regimens:

More about the importance of cooling tower maintenance.

Click Here for Information about What is a Cooling Tower and How Does It Work.

Also, Check out what Wikipedia has to say about Cooling Towers.

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