Abstract

Monitoring of cooling tower performance in a nuclear reactor facility is necessary to ensure safe operation; however, instrumentation for measuring performance characteristics can be difficult to install and may malfunction or break down over long duration experiments. This paper describes employing a thermodynamic approach to quantify cooling tower performance, the Merkel model, which requires only five parameters, namely, inlet water temperature, outlet water temperature, liquid mass flowrate, gas mass flowrate, and wet bulb temperature. Using this model, a general method to determine cooling tower operation for a nuclear reactor was developed in situations when neither the outlet water temperature nor gas mass flowrate are available, the former being a critical piece of information to bound the Merkel integral. Furthermore, when multiple cooling tower cells are used in parallel (as would be in the case of large-scale cooling operations), only the average outlet temperature of the cooling system is used as feedback for fan speed control, increasing the difficulty of obtaining the outlet water temperature for each cell. To address these shortcomings, this paper describes a method to obtain individual cell outlet water temperatures for mechanical forced-air cooling towers via parametric analysis and optimization. In this method, the outlet water temperature for an individual cooling tower cell is acquired as a function of the liquid-to-gas ratio (L/G). Leveraging the tight tolerance on the average outlet water temperature, an error function is generated to describe the deviation of the parameterized L/G to the highly controlled average outlet temperature. The method was able to determine the gas flowrate at rated conditions to be within 3.9% from that obtained from the manufacturer’s specification, while the average error for the four individual cooling cell outlet water temperatures were 1.6 °C, −0.5 °C, −1.0 °C, and 0.3 °C.

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