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A Review of Common Problems Observed in Cooling Water Intakes and the Use of Physical Models to Develop Effective Solutions

[+] Author Affiliations
David Werth, Matthew Havice

Clemson Engineering Hydraulics, Anderson, SC

Paper No. AJKFluids2015-33776, pp. V001T33A021; 6 pages
  • ASME/JSME/KSME 2015 Joint Fluids Engineering Conference
  • Volume 1: Symposia
  • Seoul, South Korea, July 26–31, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5721-2
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Pump intake structures are a necessary component of the cooling water systems for power plants, process and manufacturing facilities, flood control and water/wastewater applications. Large cooling water systems often use substantial sea / river water intakes or cooling towers to provide the required cooling of the process or circulating water. These structures can be very large and often house multiple pump with capacities ranging in size from a few hundred m3/hr to 60,000 m3/hr or more. With such large flow rates care must be taken to ensure uniform flow to the pump to limit vortex activity, vibration, flow induced cavitation and performance problems. In many cases, a physical hydraulic model study is conducted to evaluate the overall approach flow and the performance of the intake. This paper presents a synopsis of several recent physical model studies and a review of recurring problems associated with common design features.

This paper takes a closer look at stop log support walls, an intake design feature common to seawater intakes. This wall is often used to minimize the height of the stop logs. In applications with large variations of water level, such as a seawater intake, there are times when the support walls are submerged significantly, resulting in significant flow disturbances. A feature common to cooling towers is the use of 90-degree suction elbows to supply horizontal pumps. A review of short radius vs. long radius elbow performance is presented. Cooling towers often have another common feature which is a significant difference in depth between the cooling tower basin and the pump sump. This results in typical shallow basins and deeper sumps. A common problem is the utilization of minimum pump submergence to set the water levels without reference to the basin invert elevation. A discussion of choked flow conditions in cooling towers is presented. A final discussion is presented regarding cross-flow and the use of concentrated supply channels in cooling tower applications to facilitate the isolation of individual tower cells.

This paper presents a synopsis of several recent physical model studies and a review of recurring problems associated with common intake design features. The results of several model studies are presented to demonstrate the negative impacts that these common intake features have on approach flow conditions. The intent of the paper is to provide the design engineer some additional guidance not offered in industry guidelines or standards with the hope of avoiding common problems which can be costly and difficult to remediate after the intake has been constructed.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Cooling , Water



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