Why would a cooling tower that was completely full of water catch on fire?

Last updated: 10 Jul 2024
Why would a cooling tower that was completely full of water catch on fire?

Why would a cooling tower that was completely full of water catch on fire?

Cooling towers are a type of heat exchanger that uses water and air. They are frequently found in industrial manufacturing plants. Their primary function is to lower the temperature of the water that is utilized in the manufacturing process.

Inside the cooling tower, there will be water everywhere. Why would a cooling tower catch fire while it was completely covered in water?

In the previous article, we explored the causes of fires caused by Fill Packs. Do you want to know what else could cause a cooling tower fire besides the fire mentioned above? Keep reading! Since there are many reasons why cooling tower fires can happen, we'll be covering those in today's article.

But if this is your first time visiting our articles, before we get into today's topic, we'd like to take a few seconds to introduce ourselves before diving into today's content.

We, Innovek Asia, are currently the most successful manufacturer of cooling towers in Thailand, meeting global standards for our products and services for more than 15 years, and we will soon be the most successful manufacturer in the world. We have made it our mission to relentlessly develop new cooling tower solutions and technologies. We have earned our customers' trust over a large number of years, which is guaranteed by the work that we have done both nationally and globally.

Okay, now. With that settled, lets continue with our discussion.

We have compiled a brief summary of the factors that may have contributed to the cooling tower fire.

Causing by natural disaster

  • Lightning-caused fire

    Cooling towers often have lightning protection devices installed, however fires can still occur if the equipment is damaged in any way or if it is not functioning properly.

Causing during a partial or total shutdown,  whether for maintenance or for other reasons, which I would like to separate into two sub-cases.

Sub-case 1 is the case where the fire is triggered by the cooling towers parts

- The Motor

Some of the equipment inside a cooling tower must be connected to the motor, and if it is not balanced or estimated correctly when installed, the motor will be driven to overload, resulting in heat accumulation. When the cooling tower is shut down and the water is not running, the heat might transform to sparks, triggering a fire.

- The Gearbox

Heat accumulation is produced by consistent metal-on-metal contact in gearboxes when there is either insufficient lubricating oil or none at all. The heat that is produced when the cooling tower is shut down has the potential to start a fire.

- The Fill pack

As was stated at the beginning of the article, we have previously written an article about the fire that was led on by Fill Pack. To read the article, you may do so by Clicking here.

Sub-case 2 is the case that comes from maintenance duties such as

- Repair works that require the use of steel cutting

- Welding works

- Grinding works

- Other works that may create sparks

If the aforementioned actions are carried out without the use of safety equipment, flame retardant fabric, or a well-planned protection method. There is a potential that the sparks will fall into the cooling tower or spread to multiple cooling tower equipment, causing a fire.

Causing by other causes

Smoking or discarding cigarettes in the area around the cooling tower is dangerous. A fire may start if this were to happen. This is something that might happen regularly in manufacturing facilities that do not have safety precautions in place for the control area at the location of the cooling tower.

It's obvious that most cooling tower fires happen when the tower is not in use or has to be shut down. That's because when we switch off the cooling tower, no water is circulating through it. And when heat builds up, or if there is even a tiny spark, a fire starts. 

Therefore, if you need to turn off the cooling tower for any reason, including maintenance, you should always ensure that the tank or store nearby is completely stocked with water. If there is a spark or a fire, you should keep spraying the cooling tower with water, that will quickly put out the fire.

( Cooling Towers Maintenance )

This is a delicate situation that requires extreme caution. The fire that has already started and cannot be put out, has the potential to do far more serious damage than you would be able to imagine at this point. In some cases, it can take up to 6 months for a cooling tower to function normally.

To avoid harm in dangerous situations, it is important to maintain a state of heightened awareness and familiarity with basic knowledge like this.

We appreciate you sticking with us and hope you've picked up some valuable information. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at Let's have a conversation, we'd be glad to.

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