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Definition, features, properties of dry cooling systems & air cooled condensers

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Air cooled condensers: dry cooling: this article describes air cooled condensing systems, also referred to as dry cooling systems.

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What are Dry Cooling & Air Cooled Condensing Systems?

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Dry cooling or air cooled condensing systems use a bank of fans to move air across cells of heat exchangers (parallel tubing) that in turn condense a medium (typically steam) back to water that is in turn collected in a receiver or condensate tank. These systems are most commonly used in compressor-driven turbines, public or industrial power generators, refuse incenerators and biomass generators, and mash condensers.

Air cooled condenser systems (ACC) are of particular import for industrial cooling applications where there is little water available for a water operated cooling tower (evaporative cooling) or where weather conditions such as freezing make a water cooled system infeasible. Adapting text from GEA, an international supplier of ACC systems,

An air cooled condenser does not rely on water for cooling and hence there are no waste water disposal problems. This makes it ideal for water scarce areas, zero discharge plants, or situations that mandate plume elimination. - GEA (2014)

Seasonal and daily variations in air temperature and wind affect ACC operation, as do site and terrain features that affect air movement - factors that must be considered when designing the system.

Direct dry cooling system designs pass steam inside finned tubing that is cooled by air moved by blower fans. The condensate produced inside the tubing drains to a collector. Indirect dry cooling systems use a different process [citation & details needed].

Sources of more information about dry cooling systems

  • EPRI and California Energy Commission, “Comparison of Alternate Cooling Technologies for California Power Plants: Economic,Environmental, and Other Tradeoffs”, Sacramento, CA: 2002
  • GEA, "Inspection of Air Cooled Condensers and Dry Cooling Systems", GEA Heat Exchangers Ltd. GEA Denco Systems, Moreton Business Park, Moreton-on-Lugg, Hereford, HR4 8DS United Kingdom, Tel:
    +44 1432 27 7277, Website:, Email, retrieved 6/24/2014, original source
    GEA Group is a global engineering company with multi-billion euro sales and operations in more than 50 countries. Founded in 1881, the company is one of the largest providers of innovative equipment and process technology.
  • GEA Heat Exchangers Inc. 300 Union Blvd, Suite 350, Lakewood, CO 80228-1553, USA Phone: +1 (303) 987-0123, Fax: +1 (303) 987-4101
  • GEA Cooling Tower Technologies (India) Pvt Ltd. 443, Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai 600 018, India Phone: +91 44 243 35958, Fax: +91 44 243 38775
  • GEA Aircooled Systems (Pty) Ltd. Aberdein Street, Roodekop, Germiston 1401, South Africa Phone: +27 11 861 1500, Fax: +27 11 865 2220
  • Jürgen Dersch and Christoph Richter, Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumfarht Study, “Water saving heat rejection for solar thermal power plants”, 2007.


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