Rigid wet cooling media is a key component of direct and indirect evaporative cooling systems. Evaporation is the process of a substance in a liquid state changing to a gaseous state. When water evaporates only water molecules get evaporated and the other chemicals in the water are left behind on the surface as residue. Many studies have been conducted on how the change in air flow velocity, media depth, porosity and water distribution affect performance of the cooling system. The operational efficiency of the cooling media varies over its life cycle and depends primarily on temperature and speed of inlet air, water distribution system, type of pad and dimension of the pad.

Although evaporative cooling when implemented with air-side economization enables efficiency gains, a trade-off between the system maintenance and its operational efficiency exists. In this study, the primary objective is to determine how calcium scale affects the overall performance of the cooling pad and the water system. Areas of the pad that are not wetted effectively allow air to pass through without being cooled and the edges between wetted and dry surface establish sites for scale formation. An Accelerated Degradation Testing (ADT) by rapid wetting and drying on the media pads at elevated levels of calcium is designed and conducted on the cellulose wet cooling media pad. This research focuses on monitoring the degradation that occurs over its usage and establish a key maintenance parameter for water used in media pad.

As a novel study, preliminary tests were mandatory because there were no established standards for media pad degradation testing. Sump water conductivity is identified as the key maintenance parameter for monitoring sump replenishing and draining cycles which will result in reduced water usage. The average water conductivity in the sump during wetting cycles increases monotonically when ADT was performed on a new media pad. An empirical relationship between sump water conductivity and number of wetting cycles is proposed. This information will be very helpful for the manufacturers to guide their customers for maintenance of the media pad and sump water drain cycles.

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