Cooling Tower Fill

A cooling tower is a specially designed component of a property, with the sole job of making sure the most water possible contacts the most air possible, for the longest amount of time. The cooling tower, depending on its design, will have a system or structure created to allow the water to circulate, cooling as it goes, and this structure is made up of fill.

Cooling tower fill comes in multiple different styles that have different efficiency levels, pros and cons. The cross-corrugated fill that is used in many cooling towers can be extremely efficient because it offers the most surface area possible, exposing the most water to the most air possible, but because of this design, it’s easy for contamination to take place. This is often called “fouling” and cross-corrugated fill is known for being susceptible to fouling.

Vertical offset fill is a little more resistant to the permeation of outside pollutants, but offers a still fairly efficient environment in which the water can circulate, being exposed to a reasonable cooling process. The efficiency of the cross-corrugated platform is definitely reduced in the vertical offset fill design, but it can be an effective trade off of the small loss of efficiency for increased long term life and uptime, because of reduced contamination.

The vertical fill model is perhaps the least efficient cooling mechanism overall, but when water enters a system dirty and requires cooling, it is really the best solution. The condition of the water entering the system is a primary evaluation criteria when selecting the right kind of film fill for a cooling tower. Vertical fill offers a very low rate of contamination, and very limited pressure drop as the water makes its way through the system.

Because cooling tower fill will require repair or replacement over the course of its use, making sure that the correct type of fill is used is very important, or the costs involved in repeated maintenance can be prohibitive. As it ages, cooling tower fill that hangs is an indication that it is the scale it has collected has more weight than the fill can handle. In some situations, fill can even freeze, and that can take a toll on the condition of the fill overall. Fill that has fallen, or is damaged, can be replaced by a professional technician. 

Even when cooling tower fill has not been overtly damaged, replacing fill material that has aged can significantly impact the efficiency of the cooling tower. When the cooling tower is serviced by damaged or aged fill material, the heat transfer the tower was designed to facilitate simply cannot occur in the manner it is supposed to. When the cooling tower system hasn’t the ability to cool water as effectively as it was designed to, the results can impact dependent systems in dangerous and frightening ways. A relatively simple process, changing or maintaining the cooling tower fill should result in increased performance and the ability of dependent systems to run at their appropriate capacity. The ageing cooling tower unit that has its cooling fill material replaced can sometimes have its life span increased substantially, when it is serviced and maintained by an experienced and professional technician.

The ongoing management of the cooling towers can even be reduced in scope and cost when fill material is replaced, since new fill material will be higher in the basin – this should allow the cold water basin to be more easily accessed and cleaned. When the cooling tower fill is being changed, a highly qualified professional service person will also recommend that the drift eliminators be inspected, and where they might be defective or aged, replaced. Another task that can be performed during the same maintenance window is the inspection of the air louvers, as either the drift eliminators or the air louvers performing badly will stop the expected airflow. When the airflow in the system is not what it should be, the waste water that is generated in the cooling system will be excessive, and this can have significant cost and environmental impacts. The proper movement of air and water through the cooling tower system, in the balance that the system was designed to accommodate, is too important to be left to chance. Regular maintenance will not only preserve the cooling tower itself, but all of the systems which depend upon its ability to perform at its designed and expected capacity.