Today more than ever before, mechanical, maintenance and process engineers are being challenged to provide effective solutions that help to optimize environmental air quality and process cooling efficiency while reducing downtime and maintenance cost.
Regardless of the technology used to process incoming fresh air, the challenge always has been in keeping cooling towers and other cooling systems clean. As fresh air is drawn from the outside into the system, it brings along with it a range of airborne debris that can impact air quality and clog the system, ultimately leading to downtime for cleaning and maintenance.
In facilities that rely on process cooling for robotic assembly, injection molding or other production applications, downtime due to system fouling is particularly costly because of lost productivity.
Air intake problems usually are seasonal in nature. Spring, summer and fall are when the greatest maintenance challenges occur. Depending upon the season and region of the country, different environmental factors come into play. In the spring, nesting birds are frequently problematic, especially in cooling towers. In heavily wooded areas where cottonwood trees exist, you can count on cottonwood seed being a problem during the summer. If cooling towers are near trees, leaves, sticks and pine needles also are problematic. In tropical and moist regions, insects can be problematic during spring and summer. In rural and farming regions, leaves, pollen and crop-harvest debris can be problematic during the summer and fall.
Maintaining good air and water ecology are important elements in managing healthy and efficient cooling systems. Until recently, however, there was little that could be done to improve the quality of air before it enters the system. Therefore, entry of airborne debris placed greater demand on the maintenance process.
Unlike traditional internal filter banks used in air-handling units, air-intake filters provide a long service life and are installed on the system at the point where fresh air enters into the system. The filters remove debris before it can become a problem. Air-intake filters also can be installed on cooling towers, air-cooled chillers and condenser units or any fresh air-intake opening.
Air-intake filtration is designed specifically to stop cottonwood, pollen, leaves, insects, birds, paper, construction debris and other airborne matter from being drawn into air intake openings. Depending upon the system the filters are installed on, the filters provide various benefits.
- Cooling Towers. Air-intake filters help prevent fill material from getting clogged, prevent sludge buildup in water basins and optimize water chemical treatments while reducing chemical consumption. Additionally, by stopping entry of organic debris (a nutrient source for bacteria), air-intake filters help to fight proliferation of bacteria including Legionella, the cause of legionnaires' disease. Unlike water and sand filter systems that only remove debris from the cooling water, air-intake filters help keep debris out of the system in the first place and protect expensive fill material and cooling water so the system operates efficiently.
- Chillers and Condenser Units. Air-intake filters keep coils free of debris for optimal cooling efficiency and eliminate downtime due to fouling. They also eliminate the need for power washing, which can damage coils, and reduce or eliminate the need for coil-cleaning solvents.
- Air-Handling Units. Air-intake filters help to optimize environmental air quality and reduce filter changes by extending the life of internal filters by up to 60 percent.
If you are faced with costly air-intake and related maintenance problems, air-intake filtration might be the answer.