Case Study: New cooling tower improves efficiency at Smithsonian facility

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Faced with challenging specifications for increasing cooling tower capacity and the need to reduce maintenance costs and inspection accessibility, Baltimore Aircoil Company (BAC) developed an innovative solution for the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center houses several aircraft hangars with an exhibited collection of thousands of aviation and space artifacts, as well as a theater, observation tower, and dining facilities . With extensive facilities and an HVAC system that could not keep pace with demands, it became clear to the museum and AECOM’s consulting engineers, who managed the project, that a new HVAC system was desperately needed.

The museum was supported by cooling towers that were old and did not have adequate capacity to meet the growing cooling load of the building. Site conditions did not allow for a larger cooling tower footprint to accommodate the increased load. To provide enough chilled water at maximum efficiency and to correct the towers’ original hydronic design, facility managers had to raise the towers six feet. While solving the HVAC system performance challenge, it created a service dilemma: how to safely and efficiently perform routine inspection and maintenance on cooling towers that were 25 feet above the ground. .

Working with the Smithsonian Institution and AECOM, engineers from Baltimore Aircoil Company and The Morin Company, BAC’s local representative, presented an innovative solution to dramatically improve cooling tower reliability while reducing the need for maintenance and regular fan maintenance. Driving system.

“Other Smithsonian buildings have integrated BAC’s towers, and we at AECOM have also worked with BAC in the past,” said Dilip Parikh, senior project manager at AECOM. “We had seen positive results in these previous projects and BAC’s customer support is excellent, so we chose to work with them again.”

The result was a recommendation to replace existing cooling towers with new cooling tower technology from BAC, which would improve heat rejection capability and chiller functions. The solution improved cooling tower capacity within the existing tower footprint and, most importantly, reduced maintenance requirements.

In order to ensure the safety of maintenance professionals during the life of the cooling tower and a reduction in overall maintenance costs, Parikh and the BAC team decided to replace the traditional fan power transmission with a system innovative and simplified direct-drive fan system.

“I knew direct drive would probably be the right way to go for us, because we wanted to avoid unnecessary gears or belts that would have to be serviced and replaced,” says Parikh. “Then BAC drew my attention to their ENDURADRIVE ventilation system, and I immediately recognized that it was a perfect fit. »

Direct drive fan systems are increasingly accepted as the benchmark for high reliability and low maintenance in all markets BAC serves. BAC has led the evaporative cooling industry for more than a decade in applying innovative technologies to factory-assembled evaporative heat transfer products.

“With over 500 direct drive motors installed in the United States, including in some of the most demanding climates and applications, and with over 3.5 million hours of operation, we knew the ENDURADRIVE fan system would provide AECOM and the Smithsonian Institution the peace of mind they needed Plus, by eliminating moving parts, transmission oil changes and other routine inspections, drive maintenance costs fan power are reduced by 90%,” said Stephen Kline, Applications Manager at BAC.

The BAC 3000 series cooling tower with ENDURADRIVE ventilation system was installed at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in late 2018 and has been in continuous operation since then. As expected, BAC’s cooling tower solution reduced maintenance and increased efficiency at the Smithsonian Institution, and continues to meet the center’s performance needs.

“BAC sized the new cooling tower with increased capacity while staying within the pre-existing footprint. Since its installation, it has enabled the HVAC system to maintain precise temperature and humidity, a key concern in the museum building and research center,” says Parikh. “Most importantly, the need to climb the tower is rare, so facility personnel can stay safe even though tower performance has improved.”

BAC’s innovative solution for the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, met demanding project specifications to increase cooling tower capacity and significantly reduced maintenance costs and improve the accessibility of inspections. Visitors and staff will enjoy the benefits of this improved cooling tower system for years to come.


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