The first full-scale installation of an Air2Air water recovery system from Charlotte, N.C.-based SPX Corp.’s Cooling Technologies Division is now online at Public Service of New Mexico’s (PNM) San Juan Generating Station, a wet-cooled power plant. The water recovery system is expected to reduce the power plant’s annual water consumption by up to 20 percent.

As the seventh largest coal-fired generating station in the western United States, San Juan is PNM’s primary power generation source, serving 58 percent of Albuquerque, N.M.-based utility’s customers. The plant’s newly enhanced cooling system uses the evaporation of water to dissipate the heat from the power plant’s steam condensers. By evaporating a portion of the circulating water flow through the cooling tower, the remaining water is cooled. SPX’s Air2Air technology then recovers a portion of the evaporated water, condenses it and retains it in the tower system.

“The typical 500-MW coal plant in the U.S. uses roughly 30,000 tons of water each day. A cooling tower fitted with SPX’s Air2Air technology can reclaim up to 10,000 tons of water each day, or enough to provide 6,000 households with water,” said Tom Dendy, director of global marketing and development at SPX Thermal Equipment & Services. “On an even broader scale, we believe our technology can make a significant contribution to global water conservation efforts.”

The full-scale water conservation installation at the San Juan Generating Station is being funded in part by a three-year research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, which estimates that U.S. power plant cooling towers evaporate 3 billion gallons of water daily.

The performance of the tower and water recovery system at San Juan is being monitored remotely with a wireless satellite monitoring and collection system supplied by SPX Flash Technologies, Franklin, Tenn. Using the latest in wireless detector technology, design engineers from SPX Cooling Technologies, Overland Park, Kansas, can continuously monitor the performance and operation of the unit and provide live feedback and operating recommendations to plant operators in New Mexico.

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