Many areas of the United States are faced with severe water shortages. Lakes and rivers are drying up, states are fighting over water rights, and crops and livestock are in jeopardy, yet many process cooling applications continue to consume water by using once-through or other inefficient cooling methods. From simple rotary evaporators to large laser systems, numerous pieces of production equipment are connected to tap water for cooling and temperature control. Ignoring for the moment that these methods lack the effective control that is necessary for optimal operation, the loss of water from the tap to the drain impacts the environment and drives up a plant’s overhead with the increasing cost of water.
For applications that require less than 11 kW of cooling, a more efficient and environmentally sustainable method of water cooling is the use of recirculating water baths. These baths have a finite reservoir, usually ranging from 2 to 10 gal, and the water is reused constantly, thereby drastically reducing the amount of water required compared to tap water cooling. For example, an application that calls for 1 gal/min of water cooling and runs 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, will require approximately 125,000 gal of water in one year when cooled with tap water. That same application cooled with a recirculating water bath will use less than 10 gal of water throughout the year, as the water continuously recirculates through the system.
Recirculating water baths also provide precise temperature control through a simple user interface, typically a PID controller. While the degree of control depends on environmental factors, basic recirculators can achieve temperature stability from ±0.9 to ±0.18°F (±0.5 to ±0.1°C), and circulator baths can achieve temperature stability as good as ±0.018°F (±0.01°C) under some conditions. Such control can be crucial to ensuring product quality.
Based on the water savings alone, many plants are able to recoup their investment in recirculating baths within one year. Improvements in product quality and productivity due to enhanced temperature control add to the advantages. From both an environmental and bottom-line standpoint, recirculating water baths are a sound investment.
Julabo North America, headquartered in Allentown, Pa., manufactures constant temperature circulators and water baths. For more information, call (800) 458-5226 or (610) 231-0250, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.julabo.com.