Cooling towers are common systems seen in industrial areas. They are staple features used by or in chemical or petrochemical plants, oil refineries, and thermal power stations. They can also be part of a building’s HVAC system to help cool the facility. This system is essential to cool down water that has been heated due to air-conditioning condensing or an industrial process. A tower does this by using water and an evaporation process to pull the heat away and release it outside, hence creating a comfortable, cooler indoor environment.
Although cooling towers help make a facility’s indoor environment cooler, these systems can become home to various harmful types of bacteria, including Legionella. This is because a cooling tower’s process of cooling water leads to the collection of dust and debris that settle in the basin of the cooling tower. If the tower is not cleaned and maintained properly and regularly, bacteria, particularly Legionella, will flourish in the residue found in the basin since it is the ideal environment for them.
There are some key tips you can follow to effectively control Legionella bacterial growth in cooling towers and consequently prevent disease outbreaks. These include the following:
Properly and regularly maintaining the cooling tower. Since a cooling tower constantly collects debris, it is important to regularly remove whatever has settled in the tower. Key maintenance tasks that need to be regularly done include carrying out ongoing inspections to identify any mechanical deficiencies, immediately repairing any mechanical issues the tower may have including leaks and broken panels and fans, and performing regular proper cooling tower cleanings.
Employ systematic filtration. Aside from regular cleaning, it is essential to make sure that the tower water be filtered on a continuous basis to remove dirt and debris and prevent build-up or accumulation of sludge. Through systematic filtration, dust and debris are removed immediately, organic compounds and biological organisms are captured and eliminated, and food and hiding places that can foster bacterial development will be eradicated quickly as well.
Treat the water regularly. Chemical water treatment is also crucial to control scale formation, maintain the acceptable pH levels of the water system, reduce corrosion and fouling, and prevent biological contamination.
Regular monitoring. Consistent automatic system monitoring and commissioning are essential to enhance water quality and system performance. Monitoring can be done with the use of the right equipment and software. There are also various Legionella water testing kits that can be used to assess the quality of the water in the tower. Continuously monitoring water quality and system efficiency is also an important part of the process. You can also ask building personnel to inform you of any decline in water quality.