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Research Papers: Power Engineering

On Thermal Performance of Seawater Cooling Towers

[+] Author and Article Information
Mostafa H. Sharqawy

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

John H. Lienhard1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307lienhard@mit.edu

Syed M. Zubair

Department of Mechanical Engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia

1

Corresponding author.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 133(4), 043001 (Nov 22, 2010) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002159 History: Received April 26, 2010; Revised June 11, 2010; Published November 22, 2010; Online November 22, 2010

Seawater cooling towers have been used since the 1970s in power generation and other industries, so as to reduce the consumption of freshwater. The salts in seawater are known to create a number of operational problems, including salt deposition, packing blockage, corrosion, and certain environmental impacts from salt drift and blowdown return. In addition, the salinity of seawater affects the thermophysical properties that govern the thermal performance of cooling towers, including vapor pressure, density, specific heat, viscosity, thermal conductivity, and surface tension. In this paper, the thermal performance of seawater cooling towers is investigated using a detailed model of a counterflow wet cooling tower. The model takes into consideration the coupled heat and mass transfer processes and does not make any of the conventional Merkel approximations. In addition, the model incorporates the most up-to-date seawater properties in the literature. The model governing equations are solved numerically, and its validity is checked against the available data in the literature. Based on the results of the model, a correction factor that characterizes the degradation of the cooling tower effectiveness as a function of seawater salinity and temperature approach is presented for performance evaluation purposes.

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Figures

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Figure 1

Seawater specific heat calculated using Eq. 2

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Figure 2

Seawater density calculated using Eq. 3

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Figure 3

Seawater viscosity using Eq. 5

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Figure 4

Seawater surface tension using Eq. 7

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Figure 5

Seawater thermal conductivity using Eq. 9

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Figure 6

Schematic diagram of a counterflow cooling tower

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Figure 7

(a) Merkel number calculated using Djebbar and Narbaitz’s correlation and experimental values from the literature. (b) Change in the NTU with salinity and water temperature.

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Figure 8

Comparison of tower air effectiveness

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Figure 9

Effectiveness for inlet water temperature of 40°C

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Figure 10

Effectiveness at inlet water temperature of 60°C

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Figure 11

Effectiveness for inlet water temperature of 80°C

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Figure 12

Effect of salinity on the air effectiveness

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Figure 13

Effect of approach on the air effectiveness

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