Q & A > Question Details
Why is there a need to use an air cooler in the overhead circuit of a distillation column? What's so special about it that a water based condenser cannot do it standalone?
25/12/2020 A: J Rout, B. Tech, routjhr@gmail.com
It's all about economics and optimization. Air cooling comes with lower operating cost.
17/12/2020 A: Jake Gotham, InSite Technical Services, jake.gotham@insitetechnical.com
It’s a simple question of economics. An air-cooler is cheaper to build and operate than a cooling water system for the same duty. The advantage of water cooling is the ability to get to a lower temperature. In cool and temperate climates, air-coolers are used in many applications and cooling water is limited to specific applications (e.g. vacuum tower condensers) where the lower temperature is particularly beneficial. In warmer climates, air-coolers are frequently used to reject most of the heat and are followed by a cooling water exchanger to finish the job.
15/12/2020 A: Morgan Rodwell, Fluor Canada Limited, morgan.rodwell@fluor.com
Air cooling is much lower cost than water cooling. You don't need all the infrastructure to pump water around and no need for a cooling tower (if fresh) or sea water intake and outfall, or the metallurgy required when using sea water cooling.