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HVACThe lie we have been told about water consumption in cooling towers


Have you heard that a cooling tower can consume less water than others?

Let’s clarify something, there are 3 sources of consumption that are inherent to the operation of the equipment:

  1. Evaporation
  2. Drift
  3. Purge


  1. Evaporation – Cooling towers use the principle of evaporative cooling to lower the temperature of the circulating water. Basically, the equipment atomizes the flow of water while running air currents through it with the help of a fan. As a result, a portion of the water evaporates, taking with it part of the energy of the water that is still in circulation. Consequently, the temperature of the water that remains in the system decreases.


Taking this into consideration, the amount of water that the equipment will evaporate is determined by a physical process and it depends only on the thermal load of the incoming water and the leaving temperature required.

It is not possible for one piece of equipment to evaporate less than another under the same conditions.


  1. Drag or “drift” – It corresponds to the amount of water that is carried or dragged by the air current when passing through the water.

Nowadays, this is insignificant. Almost all the towers, control it so much that the percentage of loss for this item is around 0,005%.


  1. Purge – The water recirculated in the system contains a series of dissolved solids of different natures. Due to the amount of water that evaporates as part of the cooling process, these dissolved solids become increasingly concentrated in the recirculated water.

Considering that excessively high concentrations could deteriorate the components of the equipment, it is necessary to purge part of the water. That is, discard a part of it and replace it with «new» water. It should be noted that the amount of water that must be purged depends on the quality of the water being used in the application, whether any water treatment is used, and the materials of construction of the equipment.

If the system has poor quality water and already has high levels of dissolved solids, there must be more purging.

Water treatments are a measure that seeks to alter or improve the characteristics of the water to reduce the amount of purging necessary.


Finally, equipment built with more resistant materials can withstand the recirculation of more concentrated water, possibly reducing the purge required.


In this sense, it is evident that the consumption of water per purge depends mainly on factors external to the operation of the equipment.

If two options of the same construction material are compared, there will be no difference in terms of water consumption in this aspectCooling tower.


In conclusion, no cooling tower can consume more water than others under the same conditions. Do not believe that lie!



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