Cottonwood Seeds Are Back! How To Keep It From Affecting Your Equipment

Author: Sara Peters | June 2, 2015 | Category: Seasonal Maintenance, Filters

Cottonwood-Seeds_-_250pxIt looks like snow in June!

Cottonwood trees, which are found across much of the state, release clouds of silky-haired seeds that are carried for miles and miles on wind and flowing water every June. These seeds are a nuisance to most people with their white fluffy seeds sticking in grass, getting stuck in screens, and often finding their way into homes.

For manufacturers who operate cooling towers and equipment using cooling water, cottonwood seeds can be costly in terms of time and money because equipment quickly becomes clogged with the cottonwood seeds, its leaves, and other airborne dust and particles. Companies must waste thousands of dollars and manual hours removing the debris, and here's why.   


Open loop systems recirculate water, allowing cottonwood seeds and other contaminants to transfer to the inline equipment and processes. As debris is continuously drawn into cooling towers, facilities experience fouling of the cooling water. Now, chemicals are required to reduce the associated sludge build-up, eliminate bacteria proliferation, and prevent or minimize bio-film build-up on internal surfaces. These build-ups eventually cause corrosion of the basin/sump walls and breakdown of the system.

In addition, debris from cottonwoods and other sources insulate a cooling tower’s coils causing elevated tempeartures, higher discharge pressure and amp draw reducing efficiency and performance.


To keep systems running at peak performance, apply the right filtration technology! We say “right” because not just any filter will prevent cottonwood seeds and other debris from damaging  your system. It’s extremely important to apply the right filtration technology because if the wrong screen is used, the filter will not properly backwash or clean effectively resulting in the filter blinding over in a very short time ("The Stapling Effect" as shown below). Essentially, using the wrong filter or screen will create a second problem in the cooling tower, not resolve the first.



If you’re experiencing diminished performance of your cooling tower, cottonwood seeds may be the culprit. Of course there are other potential causes, but this is a fairly common one this time of year. The solution? In most cooling tower applications, automatic self-cleaning filters are preferred, along with wedge wire screen technology - as shown above. 

Always consult with the manufacturer, or an Application Engineer to ensure the right filtration technology is used for your application. 

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Sara Peters

Sara Peters

Sara leads Crane Engineering's blogging team, coming up with fresh stories and insights for our readers to apply to their every day work.

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