Some farms grow food,” says the soothing yet authoritative voiceover in the commercial. “This one grows fuel.” So begins a recent television commercial from ExxonMobil that brings again to the consumer consciousness the idea of growing algae for biofuel production. It’s a tantalizing — and far from new — idea. (Wikipedia points to the first research on the subject in 1942.) Yet the promise hasn’t been realized. Still in 2019, university researchers continued to publish methods to deliver cost-effective algae bio-crude in large enough quantities to make it (theoretically) commercially viable.

Yet, technologies that may have seemed impossible 20 years ago are nearly taken for granted today. Miniaturization of electronic components, surface mount technology and advanced packaging, improvements in battery technology — these and many other forces coalesced, with a lot of hard work, research and dedication, into smart phones, voice-controlled personal assistants, computing in the cloud, and remote service providers, to name a few. Who foresaw any of that in 2000? Most of us were just hoping the Y2K bug (remember that?) wouldn’t send us back to pre-Industrial Revolution times.

All this is perhaps a long way of acknowledging that the times will always be a-changing. As Process Cooling enters 2020, know that we are as well. Thank you for being here with us, and stay tuned for more.

Among the things we’ll be bringing in January are these great articles:

  • Sandy Kushner, Mike Himes and Tim Lebrecht of Air Products explain how cryogenic systems using liquid nitrogen can be used to flash-freeze hemp to preserve the plant’s sensitive chemical compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD).
  • Mike Mowbray, CWT, with U.S. Water explains an appropriate water treatment regimen to passivate galvanized cooling towers and avoid leaks due to white-rust damage.
  • Scott Buckley of Evapco describes smart monitoring and control systems that can help manage and automate cooling tower maintenance.

Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how a food processor in the United Kingdom converted its plant to a refrigerant leak detection system that includes cloud-based monitoring software; meet an industrial processor that realized energy and water savings after installing an adiabatic cooling system; and explore two case studies that demonstrate how evaporative cooling can help minimize the impact of heat-generating process equipment.