Starting in October 2016, AS Filtration, LLC conducted a year-long study to document the effectiveness of a non-oxidizing biocide within a side stream filter on the cooling tower system of a four-story office building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. AS Filtration installed an Aqua-StreamTM side stream filter, utilizing their unique Pathex® antimicrobial filter media, on the 400-ton cooling tower system in operation at the office building (Image 1). The goal of this study was to analyze the effects of the Aqua-StreamTM and Pathex® on bacteria, energy use, water use, and overall equipment/maintenance costs.
Cooling towers are an important part of many large-scale cooling systems. They typically use evaporation to cool process water, so that the water can be reused to extract heat from the system. Given the purpose of cooling towers, they operate much more efficiently when their heat exchange surfaces are clean.
Cooling towers face four primary water treatment issues that can reduce operational efficiency: corrosion, scaling, fouling, and microbiological activity (PNNL 2012).
- Corrosion – can cause premature structural failures; exacerbated by high oxygen levels and oxidizing biocide chemicals
- Scaling – precipitation of dissolved minerals; has insulating properties that reduce the efficiency of the heat exchange surfaces; requires more work from the system to achieve desired cooling
- Fouling – insulating film formation on heat exchange surfaces affecting performance and energy requirements of the cooling system; causes include process oils, suspended particles, and biologic growth
- Microbiological activity – can be either suspended or formed on system components; strongly insulating, increasing energy requirements; byproducts encourage further microbiological activity/growth
All of these can negatively affect operational efficiency and are inter-related, such that an increase or decrease in the severity of one can cause a comparable, parallel change in the others (PNNL 2012). These water treatment issues arise for a number of reasons, including water chemistry, suspended and dissolved solids, dust, and bird and insect activity from the open system.
Multiple reputable studies, including several from the Department of Energy (DoE), have shown that side stream filtration can reduce the prevalence of the concerns described above. These studies also examined the benefits of side stream filtration on water usage, energy consumption, maintenance requirements/downtime, and biological control. Side stream filtration using the Aqua-StreamTM and Pathex® antimicrobial filter media allows for all of these benefits of filtration, with the addition of killing and controlling bacteria and biological activity. The Aqua-StreamTM selected for the cooling tower in this study measures 24 inches in diameter and roughly 80 inches in height, with a total footprint of 36 inches by 48 inches (12 ft2), and utilizes approximately 650 lbs (6.5 ft3) of Pathex® media. The filter operates with its own control system, virtually eliminating the need for any maintenance actions. Pathex® antimicrobial filter media does not degrade and is rejuvenated daily by the filter’s control system through a programmed backwash cycle.
The next entry will examine waterborne bacteria in cooling systems and the effect of Pathex® on these issues.