Industrial processes use mechanical draft cooling towers (MDCT’s) to dissipate waste heat by transferring heat from water to air via evaporative cooling, which causes air humidification. The Savannah River Site (SRS) has a MDCT consisting of four independent compartments called cells. Each cell has its own fan to help maximize heat transfer between ambient air and circulated water. The primary objective of the work is to conduct a parametric study for cooling tower performance under different fan speeds and ambient air conditions. The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) developed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to achieve the objective. The model uses three-dimensional momentum, energy, continuity equations, air-vapor species balance equation, and two-equation turbulence as the basic governing equations. It was assumed that vapor phase is always transported by the continuous air phase with no slip velocity. In this case, water droplet component was considered as discrete phase for the interfacial heat and mass transfer via Lagrangian approach. Thus, the air-vapor mixture model with discrete water droplet phase is used for the analysis. A series of the modeling calculations was performed to investigate the impact of ambient and operating conditions on the thermal performance of the cooling tower when fans were operating and when they were turned off. The model was benchmarked against the literature data and the SRS test results for key parameters such as air temperature and humidity at the tower exit and water temperature for given ambient conditions. Detailed modeling and test results will be presented here.

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