Performance evaluation of natural draught cooling towers with anisotropic fills

Reuter, Hanno Carl Rudolf (2010-12)

Thesis (PhD) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the design of a modern natural draught wet-cooling tower (NDWCT), structural and performance characteristics must be considered. Air flow distortions and resistances must be minimised to achieve optimal cooling which requires that the cooling towers must be modelled two-dimensionally and ultimately threedimensionally to be optimised. CFD models in literature are found to be limited to counterflow cooling towers packed with film fill, which is porous in one direction only and generally has a high pressure drop, as well as purely crossflow cooling towers packed with splash fill. This simplifies the analysis considerably as the effects of flow separation at the air inlet are minimised and fill performance is determined using the method of analysis originally employed to determine the fill performance characteristics from test data. Many counterflow cooling towers are, however, packed with trickle and splash fills which have anisotropic flow resistances, which means the fills are porous in all flow directions and thus air flow can be oblique through the fill, particularly near the cooling tower air inlet. This provides a challenge since available fill test facilities and subsequently fill performance characteristics are limited to purely counter- and crossflow configuration. In this thesis, a CFD model is developed to predict the performance of NDWCTs with any type of spray, fill and rain zone configuration, using the commercial code FLUENT®. This model can be used to investigate the effects of different: atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles, air inlet and outlet geometries, air inlet heights, rain zone drop size distributions, spray zone performance characteristics, variations in radial water loading and fill depth, and fill configurations or combinations on cooling tower performance, for optimisation purposes. Furthermore the effects of damage or removal of fill in annular sections and boiler flue gas discharge in the centre of the tower can be investigated. The CFD modelling of NDWCTs presents various options and challenges, which needed to be understood and evaluated systematically prior to the development of a CFD model for a complete cooling tower. The main areas that were investigated are: spray and rain zone performance modelling by means of an Euler-Lagrangian model; modelling of air flow patterns and flow losses; modelling of fill performance for oblique air flow; modelling of air pressure and temperature profiles outside and inside the cooling tower. The final CFD results for the NDWCT are validated by means of corresponding one-dimensional computational model data and it is found that the performance of typical NDWCTs can be enhanced significantly by including protruding platforms or roundings at the air inlet, reducing the mean drop size in the rain zone, radially varying the fill depth and reducing the air inlet height.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: By die ontwerp van ‘n moderne natuurlike trek nat koeltoring (NTNK), moet strukturele en werkverrigtings eienskappe in ag geneem word. Wanverdeelde lugvloei en vloeiweerstande moet geminimaliseer word om optimale verkoeling te bewerkstellig, wat vereis dat die koeltorings twee-dimensioneel en uiteindelik driedimensioneel gemodelleer moet word om hulle te kan optimeer. Dit is gevind dat berekeningsvloeidinamika (BVD of “CFD” in engels) modelle in die literatuur, beperk is tot teenvloei koeltorings gepak met film tipe pakking, wat net in een vloeirigting poreus is en boonop gewoonlik ook ‘n hoë drukval het, sowel as suiwer dwarsvloei koeltorings met spatpakking. Hierdie vergemaklik die analise aansienlik omdat die effekte van vloeiwegbreking by die luginlaat verklein word en die pakking se werkverrigtingsvermoë bereken kan word met die analise metode wat oorspronklik gebruik is om die pakkingseienskappe vanaf toets data te bepaal. Baie teenvloei koeltorings het egter drup- (“trickle”) of spatpakkings met anisotropiese vloeiweerstand, wat beteken dat die pakking poreus is in alle vloeirigtings en dat die lug dus skuins deur die pakking kan vloei, veral naby die koeltoring se lug inlaat. Hierdie verskaf ‘n uitdaging aangesien beskikbare pakking toetsfasiliteite, en dus ook pakking karakteristieke, beperk is tot suiwer teenvloei en dwarsvloei konfigurasie. ‘n BVD model word in hierdie tesis ontwikkel wat die werkverrigtingsvermoë van NTNK’s kan voorspel vir enige sproei, pakking en reënsone konfigurasie deur van die kommersiële sagteware FLUENT® gebruik te maak. Hierdie model kan gebruik word om die effekte van verskillende: atmosferiese temperatuur- en humiditeitsprofiele, lug inlaat en uitlaat geometrië, lug inlaat hoogtes, reënsone druppelgrootteverdelings, sproeisone werkverrigtingskarakteristieke, variasie in radiale waterbelading en pakking hoogte, en pakking konfigurasies of kombinasies op koeltoringvermoë te ondersoek vir optimerings doeleindes. Verder kan die effekte van beskadiging of verwydering van pakking in annulêre segmente, en insluiting van ‘n stoomketel skoorsteen in die middel van die toring ondersoek word. Die BVD modellering van NTNK bied verskeie moontlikhede en uitdagings, wat eers verstaan en sistematies ondersoek moes word, voordat ‘n BVD model van ‘n algehele NTNK ontwikkel kon word. Die hoof areas wat ondersoek is, is: sproeien reënsone modellering mbv ‘n Euler-Lagrange model; modellering van lugvloeipatrone en vloeiverliese; modellering van pakking verrigting vir skuins lugvloeie; modellering van lugdruk- en temperatuurprofiele buite en binne in die koeltoring. Die BVD resultate word mbv van data van ‘n ooreenstemmende eendimensionele berekeningsmodel bevestig en dit is bevind dat die werkverrigting van ‘n tipiese NTNK beduidend verbeter kan word deur: platforms wat uitstaan of rondings by die luginlaat te installeer, die duppelgrootte in die reënsone te verklein, die pakkingshoogte radiaal te verander, en die luginlaathoogte te verlaag.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5440
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