COOLING TOWER PLUME | What causes it?

Last Updated: August 16, 2023, by

Cooling Tower Plume is a saturated water vapor created from the cooling process being ejected from the top of the tower, mixing with cooler ambient air creating a plume of condensation that looks like white smoke.

The plume is harmless being that it is made up of small water droplets but does pose some issues and risks,

  • Public perception of what the plume is, with many thinking it is some form of pollution.
  • Could cause issues and conflicts with neibours.
  • Creating a ‘fog’ that, if the tower is not placed in the correct position, can create a reduction in visibility. This is particularly can be an issue near runways, roads, walkways etc.
  • If the ‘plume’ is allowed to drift in winter, potential safety issue with freezing when it makes contact with the surfaces, especially on roads and metal walkways etc.
  • Public can mistake the plume for a fire reporting it to the fire department
  • Wastage of water from the cooling process.
  • Increasing of the humidity around the cooling tower, possibly leading to accelerated corrosion of plant and equipment.
  • Local councils may not accept and in worse cases delay permits.

How do you control Cooling Tower Plume?

As noted above, there are some risks and issues with the cooling tower plume and more and more requirements from local governments requiring it to be controlled and minimized.

To provide a solution, manufacturers have developed. They can supply systems fitted at the factory or retrofitted to existing installations managing the plume, so it is not so visual called ‘Plume Abatement Systems.’

The system controls the plume by raising the temperature of the air, drying it out.

How does Plume Abatement Work?

Plume abatement works by taking the warm moist air that is created from the cooling process and cooling it to remove the water/condensation, letting it drop back down into the water basin, via a heat exchanger that is installed in the top section of the tower before rejecting it to the atmosphere [see below graphic].

The ejected air from the cooling tower shows little or no plume due to this water being removed and warmer air.

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