September 2019

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Optimization: Thinking of cooling towers? Go global and modular.

When it comes to cooling towers, when should modular be considered?

Childers, B., Aggreko

When it comes to cooling towers, when should modular be considered? Operations must remain steady at a petrochemical plant or refinery during planned maintenance or in an emergency. Management should consider a global, modular and mobile cooling tower to support the plant’s needs, regardless of location, to reduce energy costs and to boost productivity.

Common global, mobile, modular cooling tower applications within the petrochemical and refining sector include:

  • Temporary cooling tower capacity during repairs or replacement of permanent cooling towers
  • Augmenting existing cooling tower capacity during summer months to achieve lower cooling water temperatures
  • Emergency cooling tower systems following an unplanned loss of cooling water
  • Decoupling capabilities during turnarounds by installing dedicated cooling water to specific exchangers
  • Reduced inlet air temperatures to air-cooled heat exchangers.

A tailored, global, modular cooling tower system ensures the development and design of the best solution to accomplish the key objectives of a plant project successfully, with all of the safeguards, reliability and redundancy critical to any successful application.

Keep productivity steady

It is likely that, when a plant makes repairs, performs maintenance or upgrades an existing cooling tower, a portion of the cooling tower will need to be taken out of service. This will leave the plant vulnerable and is unlikely to maintain the desired and/or required performance to sustain the plant’s cooling needs.

By diverting water from the existing cooling tower to mobile, modular cooling towers, repairs occur without any interruption to plant productivity. The cooling tower system, which is equal to the amount of capacity removed for repairs, may require even less capacity if repairs are carried out in cooler weather.

Improve safety

With a global, modular cooling tower system, plants take as long as necessary to perform repairs safely and properly instead of “patching” or isolating a cell within the tower to complete the work. This approach improves the safety of personnel who can shut down the entire cooling tower to safely perform the complicated repairs or maintenance without impacting the plant’s production.

FIG. 1. The first global, mobile and modular cooling tower was launched in December 2018.
FIG. 1. The first global, mobile and modular cooling tower was launched in December 2018.

Reduce energy costs

Global, modular units maintain precise temperature control and reduce energy costs through variable-speed fan motors. Industry estimates report that monthly energy savings from a single mobile cooling tower can range from $2,000–$5,000 compared to other rental cooling towers, while helping plants contribute to decarbonization targets.

For one Houston petrochemical complex, the energy savings alone from the global, modular cooling tower (Fig. 1) equaled the entire cost of the modular rental.

Tight spaces

Global, mobile and modular cooling towers are built into a standard shipping container frame that can be installed quickly and easily on new sites or integrated as part of existing projects, typically within a few days following delivery.

A forklift or crane lifts the mobile cooling towers and transports them by road, rail, ship or air. This reduces shipping costs by up to 40% and offers a 25% smaller footprint when compared to current towers. This, coupled with unique extendable legs, allows the ancillaries to be placed under the towers to make the most efficient use of space onsite. A single unit can cool up to 4,000 gal/min, or for the biggest and most challenging of products, the modular design allows units to be interconnected side-by-side or end-to-end to cool up to 1.5 MMgal/min.

Remote monitoring

Global, modular cooling towers connect to remote monitoring, providing around-the-clock monitoring of water flowrates, inlet and outlet temperatures, power consumption and water levels. The remote monitoring allows plants to respond to changes on demand and take immediate action if something breaks.

A global, modular cooling tower representative can help during the budgeting process of scheduled maintenance for a cooling tower, and can accurately budget for the temporary equipment rental and design the right system, dependent on weather conditions, to minimize risk and cost. HP

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