The Basic Cooling System Types and How They Work

The concept of cooling is to transfer thermal energy from a medium to another. Cooling systems differ in size, function, application, and other factors. You see them in residential, commercial, as well as industrial settings. In the industrial use, cooling is a critical element that prevents equipment, devices, machines, and other products to overheat. In the residential and commercial setting, the idea of cooling is to create a comfortable environment for people.

For the most part, cooling applications take advantage of water as the medium for successfully absorbing heat. The reason is that water has a naturally high boiling point and high temperature. When it comes to the industrial application, the three methods for using water in the cooling systems are as follows.

1 – Once-Through Cooling System

The principle behind the once-through cooling system is to pump water from a nearby source. The water will pass once through the system, the purpose of which is to absorb process heat. The water gets discharged into the source after the process. Therefore, the method is sustainable and won’t harm the source in any way. The water source may be a river, ocean, or lake. It is a type of cooling system in the industrial application where if there is a significant volume, using low-cost water is a viable option. You also should know that the method is preferred in situations wherein the cooling demand is either low or moderate or in times when processes are not critical. The only drawback for once-through cooling is that it is prone to damage or inefficiency when there is source disturbance like flooding.

2 – Dry Cooling Tower or Closed Recirculating System

The way a – Dry Cooling Tower works is that the heat gets absorbed by the cooling water, which then is either transferred to a second coolant or emitted into the air. The reason why the system is called dry is that the water never gets exposed to air. Hence, there is minimal water loss. The perfect example of how a closed cooling system works is an automotive engine.

What separates the – Dry Cooling Tower from other systems is that there is no taking advantage of evaporation. What the system relies on is cold air rushing over a bunch of small tubes that contain the coolant. The transfer of heat happens from the hot liquid inside the pipes to the cold air, which eventually results in cooling. The coolant finds itself going back to the engine.

3 – Evaporative Cooling Tower or Open Recirculating System

The last type of cooling system called the evaporative cooling tower uses water in a recycling method. It is easily recognisable because of the large outdoor cooling tower, which in turn takes advantage of the natural process of evaporation to release heat from the cooling tower.