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what is a cooling tower

What Is A Cooling tower?

A cooling tower is a heat rejection device, which extracts waste heat to the atmosphere though the cooling of a water stream to a lower temperature. ... Common applications for cooling towers are providing cooled water for air-conditioning, manufacturing and electric power generation.

In cooling towers water which has been heated by an industrial process or in an air-conditioning condenser, is pumped through pipes to the cooling tower. The water sprays through nozzles onto heat transfer media called “fill,” which slows the flow of water through the cooling tower, and exposes as much water surface area as possible for maximum air-water contact.  The flowing water is pulled through the cooling tower by gravity while an electric-driven fan pulls air across (crossflow) or up (counterflow) through the fill. A small amount of water is evaporated when the water and air meet. The cooled water is then pumped back to the condenser or process equipment where it absorbs heat. It will then be pumped back to the cooling tower to be cooled once again. With decades of experience and success in the cooling tower industry, Phelps Engineering has focused on and learned how to maximize the performance of cooling towers.  We have the knowledge and experience to successfully carry out performance optimization on your tower.

Cooling towers are usually broken into two categories, crossflow and counterflow.  The easiest way to distinguish a crossflow tower is that has air inlet louvers all the up its sides.   It also has hot water basins at the top of the tower that gravity feed the water to the fill.  Air is pulled across the fill as the water falls through the tower.  Counterflow towers have air inlets only in the lower part of the tower and have a pressurized water distribution system that is piped into the side of the tower.  Water is, sprayed under pressure onto the fill, and flows downward as air is pulled upward, or counter, to the water.


  • Upgrading
  • New Towers or Add Cells for Tight Spaces
  • Consulting and Bid Analysis
  • Testing
  • Water Conservation
  • Optimization
  • Repairs


Phelps Engineering Company

Tel: (949) 661-4941