When it comes to industrial applications, process cooling capacity plays a major role in maintaining the performance of system components, the integrity of processes and the quality of finished products. This is because the heat generated by applications within an industrial plant can be harmful to applications as well as products. Optimal cooling systems are, thus, critical to preventing overheating, which can also lead to heat contamination.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of process cooling systems: ones that use water as their cooling medium, and others that use air. MicroCool’s Condenser Coil Cooling (C3) fogging system maximizes the efficiency of those that use air. If you’re working with air-cooled condensers and want to reduce the maintenance and energy costs, C3 cooling might be just what you need.
What Is Condenser Coil Cooling and Process Cooling?
Before we get into how condenser coil cooling works, let’s understand what process cooling is. From food and beverage to medical and industrial manufacturing, process cooling is required in a range of industries. Also known as industrial cooling, it refers to the method of removing unwanted, excess heat from processes.
As we mentioned, an excessive heat load produced during these processes can be detrimental for applications, equipment, and end products. By removing this heat load from the equation, the process can continue reliably and safely, thereby preventing the dreaded downtime and protecting your business’ bottom line.
There are three main areas that process cooling works on:
- Cooling a specific piece of equipment (such as HVAC units or laser cutting machines);
- Cooling a specific product (like plastics during the molding); and
- Cooling a specific process (such as chemical reaction vessels or fermentation of beer).
There are other reasons why an industrial plant may need process cooling systems, including reducing wear and tear on equipment, increasing an application’s efficiency, and maintaining the integrity of the finished product (like preventing spoilage and contamination).
This is where condenser coil cooling comes in. It involves placing patented fog nozzles in front of condenser coils to significantly reduce heat. Additionally, it also saves energy and prolongs the compressor life in the process.
In high-heat environments, where air conditioning systems need to be working at peak efficiency, they can sometimes struggle to perform. Condenser units are known to lose up to 40% of their efficiency and compressors work at maximum capacity to maintain required cooling levels. This reduction in efficiency can lead to unit failure because of high-head pressure.
The condenser coil cooling system is a high-pressure pumping system that forces water through nozzles that produce a 10 micron spray of water, which flash-evaporates and then extracts large amounts of heat from the air. This means the air turns notably cooler. Cooler air results in cooler refrigerant, which means lower head pressure and leads to higher efficiency, increased capacity, and less power usage.
How Process and Condenser Coil Cooling Is Connected to Energy Efficiency
When the conversation is about condenser coil cooling system’s role in reducing energy costs, the subject of condensate reclamation or recovery is bound to come up. This is for a few reasons: condensate water from HVAC systems is not only absolutely FREE, but it’s not restricted in usage as part of a potable system.
Anyone who lives in a warm climate, like that of California or Arizona, knows that high temperatures are part of the reason why air conditioners are forced to run almost year-round. Combine that with oppressive humidity, and you’ve got sweat condensation pouring off AC coils. On a hot, humid day, the amount of condensate created from a small-sized data center or cannabis grow facility can be several gallons per minute.
In most buildings, this HVAC condensate is disposed of in the sewers. And that, according to us, is a huge waste.
What if your building had a way to claim this high-quality, distilled-like water and have it captured and pumped back for reuse, primarily as makeup water for condenser coils? You can recover millions of gallons of water per year this way – which means, instead of buying that much of potable, treated water from the city to replenish the coils, you can save a ton of money and a precious resource in the process.
Water recovery is now also part of LEED certification, the benchmark in green building administered by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). This would explain why HVAC condensate harvesting is slowly but surely becoming a part of construction plans for many industrial buildings across the country.
While the condensate is good water (it can be used just as for, say, ornamental foundations and irrigation), it needs to be filtered by a reverse osmosis (RO) system to achieve the quality you need for your specific application. Otherwise, there could be a risk of infection from Legionella bacteria. This is where we come. MicroCool’s team can help repurpose the filtered condensate in your facility, resulting in optimized cooling efficiency of your air-cooled condenser coils.
Choose MicroCool’s C3 Cooling Technology
Another way we can help is by reducing the refrigerant temperature using the condenser coil cooling system. The resulting lower compressor head pressures can mean up to 25% less energy consumption. The C3 process cooling system also utilizes much less energy and water than spray-and-pad systems. Based on this, the cooling towers consume a fraction of the water compared to other cooling systems.
C3 technology not only helps you save water, but also a lot of money. Some of the features that make C3 system technology a no-brainer are:
- Nozzles Placed in Front of the Coils: To increase the efficiency by cooling the air moving over coil, which also reduces energy consumption.
- Water-Saving Design: To ensure each nozzle uses less than 1.5 gallons per hour (gph).
- UV Filters: To get rid of up to 99% of waterborne bacterial growth.
- Continuous Monitoring: To ensure your condenser mist cooling systems are only operating when most effective (so as to never waste water).
The primary objective of C3 process cooling system is to lower your operating costs and need for maintenance on air-cooled condenser coils. It increases the efficiency of all air-cooled coils to boost heat-rejection and performance. By lowering the air temperature, the compressor pressure is reduced and your unit operates more efficiently. This results in reduced electrical consumption and increased power output.
The Importance of Reverse Osmosis Process and Water Output Quality
While aiming for efficiency, engineers generally overlook poor water quality as a key reason their cooling systems fail to meet high expectations. A lot of people assume that once water reaches the systems, the quality will automatically be under control. This might be true to a certain degree, but it doesn’t mean the water gets rid of all the suspended solids (like corroded metal particles and dust) on its own.
Low-quality water can drain the efficiency of a process cooling system. No wonder engineers are always looking for improved efficiencies. Most cooling systems use about 60% of a facility’s energy, so even a little improvement in efficiency can yield measurable results.
One way to improve efficiency is through reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a filtration method that eliminates several types of large ions and molecules from the water supply, including chemicals, pollen, and bacteria. RO systems utilize a membrane under pressure to extract pure water and leave behind the less-pure residue.
The pure water is allowed to pass through to the other side while the unwanted residue remains on the pressurized side of the membrane. The fogging mist is created using this pure water.
The membranes in MicroCool’s RO systems eradicate contaminants down to 0.0001 microns in size. Without the process of reverse osmosis, these water-borne impurities can build up and prevent the purified water from flowing through the atomizing nozzles.
Which Industrial Plants Need Process Cooling?
Too much unwanted heat in a warehouse or manufacturing environment has negative effects on workers’ health, production capacities and even the quality of goods being produced/stored. In many industries, high temperature issues are becoming increasingly common. Average ambient temperature during summer is now higher than it has been in the past. While the differences are only a few degrees, they have had a major impact on the work environment.
Take the need for protective gear for example. Due to the increased focus on employee safety, workers today wear more gear (face masks, helmets, etc.) than they did 10 years ago. It’s safe to say that higher temperatures have made the same tasks more challenging.
Also, many companies have adopted longer shifts, so worker fatigue is a big factor. A lot of warehouse operations and manufacturing plants have set higher product-handling or production goals in order to remain competitive. This means employees are working at a faster pace that must be maintained even during the scorching hot weather.
There are, of course, some jobs where exposure to heat is unavoidable, like a glass manufacturing factory or cooked foods facility. But even in these situations, it’s important for workers to have cooler zones nearby to cool down in and have limited heat exposure.
Data Centers and Colocation Centers
Data centers have an incredibly complex infrastructure which makes them very energy intensive. If the IT equipment is exposed to raised temperatures for an extended period of time, the lifespan of that equipment is shortened. When there’s excessive hot air circulating in the center, it can cause equipment to overheat and break down.
A data center cooling process system aims to separate hot air from cold air. If your facility is able to do this consistently within budget, you are on the right track to achieving cooling efficiency.
A fundamental rule for cooling efficiency in data centers is to aim for minimizing the air volume to cool through process cooling. This requires that each cabinet/rack is contained within its own system in the warehouse. Once contained, racks are generally arranged in a manner that they don’t draw hot air from surrounding servers. Hardware and cable monitoring makes sure that all materials are organized and there is minimal risk of blocked airflow.
The main issue in dealing with the high temperatures is the inability of the condenser coils in HVAC systems to reject the heat fast enough to keep up with the high demand. If the system is not built to handle higher temperatures, it will begin to fail no matter how low you set the thermostat. Rising temperatures can be catastrophic for the servers, and failure to protect against power loss can spell trouble for your customer relationships.
Process cooling or condenser coil cooling with fog works really well in cooling the condenser coils faster. It also returns the liquid to the system with a reduced temperature.
Natural Gas Plants
Most of the electricity in the US comes from thermoelectric power plants (oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear) that need reliable cooling systems. These power plants boil the water to produce steam, which is then spun in turbines to create electricity. The heat used to boil water can come from solar or geothermal heat sources, from nuclear reactions, or from burning of a fuel.
Once the resulting steam passes through the turbine, it must be cooled (through submersion in the water) before it can be reused to create more electricity. It goes without saying that colder water is more effective at cooling the steam and thus enables more electricity generation.
Natural gas needs a transport system that uses compressor stations every 50–100 miles along the pipeline so the system can maintain pressure. This is done so the gas can be pumped from the extraction point to storage, treatment, or usage points along the way.
MicroCool had an opportunity to work with a natural gas compression station in North Carolina. The facility had reached capacity because of inadequate cooling and their compression engineer had recommended MicroCool.
We installed our condenser coil cooling system with no system downtime, so plant production was maintained throughout the process. Our unique pump and nozzle system delivers fog around the air intake areas of the 11 feet diameter fans cooling the surrounding air. The fog system is activated on its own when local temperatures reach 90°F (which can easily mean 100°F at the site’s micro climate).
Under these conditions, the fog system reduces temperatures by at least 10°F, depending on evaporative conditions on that particular day. We also installed an ancillary reverse osmosis system to eliminate mineral dust and deposits from accumulating on the cooling system’s coils, fan, or shroud so as to maximize the cooling efficiency.
For indoor cannabis grow facilities, the total energy costs usually vary between 20% – 50% of total operating costs. As medical marijuana continues to rise in popularity and number of indoor cultivation plants increase to match the demand, they can become a source of strain in local electrical grids.
So, any areas you can identify to improve the energy efficiency without negatively affecting the cannabis grow environment, can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line.
Since plant transpiration produces a lot of humidity, you need to pay special attention to dehumidification strategies for the cultivation area. Humid air needs treating substantial latent roads in the grow area, which needs additional energy to remove moisture from the air. This is why HVAC systems can consume nearly half of the energy budget in a grow facility.
Higher humidity levels also reduce the Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD, a method used to measure humidity in the greenhouse) in the room, which prevents cannabis plants from transpiring properly for a healthy growth. To make sure this doesn’t happen, growers often install stand-alone dehumidifiers in the grow room. Although these units can remove moisture from the indoor air, they consume enormous amounts of energy. Plus, they reintroduce the heat back into the room, adding further load on the HVAC unit for cooling.
MicroCool systems have proven to be highly effective in increasing the performance of HVAC units in cannabis greenhouses. Our C3 system can be installed on top of the building where your AC units are located, to cool the ambient temperatures around the condenser coils. It will improve the way your HVAC units perform, reducing the energy costs considerably, especially during the summer.
Choose MicroCool’s Condenser Coil Cooling Systems
Our condenser coil cooling systems are the perfect cooling solution for a wide range of processes in industries like data storage facilities, geothermal cooling plants, gas processing coolers, air-cooled refrigeration units in supermarkets, and much more.
If you are looking to increase the performance of your old, worn-out condensers, instead of replacing the entire unit for tens of thousands of dollars, consider MicroCool’s process cooling solutions. Our cooling systems promise better performance, longer life, and reduced repair costs, with little to no high-head situations. For any questions, call us at 1-800-322-4364 or locally at 760-322-1111. You can also contact us online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.