Treating cooling tower water properly is essential to the success and efficiency of your process. Organic growth, fouling, scaling, corrosion, and water scarcity are all challenges that can reduce plant productivity and require costly equipment replacements down the road, but “How Much Does a Cooling Tower Water Treatment System Cost?”
In order to keep your production flowing smoothly and avoid costly damage to your equipment, the proper treatment of your cooling tower water is essential. The cycles of concentration within the tower are determined by scaling and fouling components in the feed water. Typical contaminants that affect the amount of cycles than can be run are hardness, total dissolved solids (TDS), iron, total suspended solids (TSS), and silica.
The three main areas of the cooling tower process that require treatment are: feed water to the cooling tower, circulatory water in the tower, and cooling tower bleed to drain.
In this article, we’re going to break these down and consider the different treatment options and costs associated with these systems:
Treating cooling tower feed water
Depending on the quality of the cooling tower feed water, you may or may not need treatment here. If a water treatment system is needed at this part of the cooling tower water process, it is usually technology that removes hardness and silica or stabilizes / adjusts the pH.
At this point of the process, the proper treatment optimizes the tower evaporation cycles and minimizes the water bleed rate to drain beyond what might be done with chemicals alone.
In general, the cost for a system to treat cooling tower feed water will be approximately $50,000–$100,000 at 100 GPM feed rate for equipment, $100,000–$250,000 if treatment needs require a softener and desilicizer.
Treating cooling tower circulation water
The second area of physical treatment a cooling tower will typically need is for the circulation water within the tower.
Normally some form of side stream filtration is your best bet. This helps keep your cooling tower water free of particles that can build up and foul the cooling tower.
By running approximately 10% of the circulated water through the side stream filter, it can be easier to retain a healthy balance of suspended solids that will reduce the particulate fouling of your equipment.
A typical side stream filtration unit will usually run you between $50,000 at 100 GPM to $300,000 at 1,000 GPM, depending on the type of filtration needed.
In addition to side stream filtration, cooling towers will require chemical treatment additives to maintain the circulation system and control scale, corrosion, and biological fouling. The cost of equipment and chemicals needed for this part of the process would be in addition to the figures mentioned above, so be sure to keep this in mind when calculating the project costs.
There are several solutions for this part of the process, so to find out what might be the best solution for your circulation water, reach out to us and set up a call with one of our engineers. You can contact us here.
Treating cooling tower blowdown
The last part of treatment required for cooling tower water is the blowdown or bleed from the tower.
Depending on how much water the cooling plant needs to circulate for proper cooling capacity, plants will choose to recycle and recover the water through some type of post treatment in the form of reverse osmosis or ion exchange, especially in places where water might be scarce.
This allows liquid and solid waste to be concentrated and removed while treated water can be returned to the tower and reused. These systems have several factors that go into estimating cost and depend upon the plant location and specific environmental factors.
For example, if a plant is looking to treat the blowdown and about 75% of the water is desired to be recovered and reused, a simple recovery system would run about $300,000 for a 100 GPM stream. If regulatory requirements demand complete zero liquid discharge (ZLD), systems at this level (including evaporation and crystallization) can go from about $3–$5 million.
Other important factors to consider when pricing a cooling tower water treatment system
- Cooling tower circulation water makeup and chemistry. Your cooling tower water makeup/chemistry is a complex calculation, but this information is essential to developing the most efficient solution possible. SAMCO has years of experience helping our customers understand this complex chemistry. If you have questions about how a cooling tower’s specific makeup might affect treatment needed, feel free to contact us and set up a call with one of our engineers.
- Up-front planning. There are costs associated with developing the concepts, designs, and regulatory requirements for these types of projects. Typically, the cost of engineering for a project like this will be about 10–15% of the entire project cost. This cost is usually phased in over the course of the project.
- Installation rates. Installation rates for a cooling tower water treatment system will usually run you 15–25% of the project. In general they have a smaller footprint and don’t require as much civil work. Another thing to keep in mind is the installation rates in your area, which may fluctuate by location. Since the cooling tower water treatment systems are usually prepackaged, their footprint is typically smaller (between 300 and 10,000 FT2, depending on flow rate). SAMCO specializes in these types of turnkey, prepackaged systems, and for more information about what we offer, you can visit our website here.
- Shipping the system to your plant. When you are coordinating the shipping details of your system, you usually want to factor in about 5–10% of the cost of the equipment for freight. This can vary widely depending upon the time of year you are purchasing your system in addition to where your plant is located in relation to the manufacturing facility.
- System discharge and connection fees. Any discharge your system creates will need to meet all regulatory requirements. In certain areas where water is scarce, there could be large sewer connection fees, and demineralization systems can be a cost-effective solution here, as they can help minimize the cost to connect to water and sewer lines. Also, the discharge of your cooling tower bleed must meet local municipal discharge regulations if your effluent is being returned to the environment or a publicly owned treatment works (POTW).
In short, treating your cooling tower water can be a complex assortment of solutions depending on your plant’s individual needs. SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience custom-designing and manufacturing these types of systems, so please feel free to reach out to us with your questions. For more pricing information or to get in touch, contact us here to set up a consultation with an engineer or request a quote. We can walk you through the steps for developing the proper solution and realistic cost for your cooling tower water treatment system needs.
Some other articles about cooling tower water treatment you might be interested in include:
- What Is a Cooling Tower Water Treatment System and How Does It Work?
- How Do You Know If You Need a Cooling Tower Water Treatment System for Your Plant?
- How to Increase Your Industrial Cooling Tower Efficiency
- Common Cooling Tower Water Treatment Problems and How to Solve Them
- Treated vs. Untreated Cooling Tower Water: Risks for Your Plant
- Five of the Best Cooling Tower Water Treatment Equipment Supply and Technology Companies