It looks like snow in June! Cottonwood trees, which are found across most of the state, are a nuisance to most people (their white fluffy seeds stick in grass, get caught in screens and often find their way into homes), but are costly in terms of both time and money to organizations with cooling towers and equipment using cooling water.
The Impact of Cottonwood Seeds
Cooling towers and other equipment quickly get fouled and clogged with cottonwood seeds, its leaves, and plenty of airborne dust and particles. When the system is being used for industrial processes, thousands of dollars and hours are wasted on maintenance to remove this debris, and the downtime required to address the issue.
Open loop systems recirculate water, allowing those 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, which increases the need for chemicals 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 actually insulates a cooling tower’s coils, causing heat build-up, higher discharge pressure and amp draws, causing reduced efficiency and performance.
How to Address These Issues
To avoid these issues and keep systems running at peak performance, the right filter technology is needed. We say “right” because not just any filter will do. It’s extremely important to apply the right filter 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"). Essentially, using the wrong filter will create a second problem in the cooling tower, not resolve the first.
If you’re experiencing diminished performance of your cooling tower, cottonwood trees 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.
Have a filter challenge or question? Our team has valuable experience with an extensive range of filter challenges and can quickly recommend the appropriate action to prevent the effects of cottonwood debris on your cooling system, or any other problem you’re facing.