Instructables

Wooden Air Cooled Water Chiller?

Does anyone have or know where to find plans for larger sized air cooled water chillers, such as those that used to be next to ice plants.  The vertical towers had water dropping through wooden, slanted slats which created chaotic air flow through the water, removing heat and chilling the return water.  Essentially speaking, I want to build a tower that can be used to chill large aquaria within outbuildings where fingerling trout are being raised.

In doing web searches all I am finding are the heavy duty industrial chillers that are high energy users, expensive, and would not work with solar driven small water pumps.

Thank you for any help, discussion or steer to websites.
Bill

BillClewis2 (author) 6 months ago

"HVAC Water Chillers and Cooling Towers Fundamentals, Application, and Operation, Second Edition". Found this in answer to my water chiller question. Would highly recommend it.

framistan1 year ago
Here is a link to 3 methods of gridless refrigeration may give you some ideas:
http://www.survivalistdaily.com/alternative-refrigeration-methods/

Also, I have done some experimenting with cooling using underground temperatures. The temperatures underground (in St. Louis, Missouri) are about 60 degrees F all year round if you go down about 10 feet. However, the dirt is pretty DRY until you get down to about 20 feet. The moist dirt is where the real cooling power is. I believe you might be able to dig ditches or vertical shafts into the ground and circulate water through them easily. circulating water is very easy compared to pumping (lifting) it up. A very TINY pump will do it. I plan on coming out with an instructable on this subject of underground air cooling, you might want to subscribe to me, framistan, so you get to see it as soon as it is published.
BillClewis2 (author)  framistan6 months ago
Found an answer to my water chiller question in "HVAC Water Chillers and Cooling Towers Fundamentals, Application, and Operation, Second Edition", a very good book on the construction and use of cooling towers. Cheers.
BillClewis2 (author) 1 year ago
Framistan, Thank you very much for the link and your comments. Where I have my home, and where the tubing would be buried, is moist soil indeed just a few feet beneath the surface. If anyone has been on a farm with even a shallow well, and tasted the cool fresh water from it, then they know where I'm going with this. One of the alternatives I'm thinking of, is digging into the ground 6-8 feet and blowing the same type of material used in making in-ground pools. Making use of the presence of the grounds innate coolness as well as circulating piping running through a deeper soil horizon. A backhoe can make guick work of digging ditches and then burying the piping, perhaps more economically than an auger system for a vertical shaft, plus you'd be able to bury more tubing per unit area. Thank you for stopping by and the useful information.
I can see where the tower your talking about will help cool the air but not the water. Any water dripping or streaming through an area of chaotic airflow would be cooling the air as the water takes the heat from the air and evaporates. Basically making an evaporative air cooler. If the tanks are in out buildings then cooling the air i the buildings will go a long way to keeping the water at a constant temp.
BillClewis2 (author)  mpilchfamily1 year ago
As I recall these towers, they were never situated inside buildings, but were standalones and weren't used to cool the interior of buildings. The water would fall at such a rate that evaporation was not an issue. Thank you for stopping by and your comment.
Sounds like a concept nearly lost to the ages. Sounds like you have a basic concept of how it should work. So why not build some prototypes and see what kind of results you get. You may want to try setting up a tower of wood slats to get the turbulent air you want. Then i suggest using natural fiber ropes hanging in the middle of the structure to trickle the water through. Use several ropes and keep them an inch or 2 spaced out. Should provide a good amount of surface area for the air to blow over the water. But i don't think you'll be able to get the water below air temp. Don't the fish need the water to be cooler than the air?
BillClewis2 (author)  mpilchfamily1 year ago
My vision is this: Having fry/fingerling/stocker containers under roof or shade, and making use of a passive geothermal heat exchange, i.e. "earth", to cool return waters circulating through the containers. As the closed tubing carries water through the bottoms of the containers they will re-circulate underground where the earth will act as a heat exchanger, cooling the return water endlessly and reducing the container temperatures. The vertical air cooled towers would supplement the buried tubing that would be the primary means of keeping the water cooled.

Many houses are now making use of geothermal heating and cooling, so why not fish tanks?

Think in terms of rain falling and it evidently being cooler than the ambient air. Even a few degrees difference would be beneficial.

As I recall the tower that served one plant was probably sixteen feet tall and six feet wide and the falling water was evidently much cooler than you would have supposed on summer days. Standing next to them they would have the sound of a constant heavy rainstorm. (Perhaps they would be beneficial creating "white noise" to sleep by as well? LOL)

Overall any system pumps would be driven by solar and supplemented with batteries or the grid when necessary.

My next step, if I can't find plans is to try and find an old plant that used them for details.

Thank your for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. They will be worthwhile as I try to reconstruct this "lost" technology!
BillClewis2 (author)  mpilchfamily1 year ago
As I recall these towers, they were never situated inside buildings, but were standalones and weren't used to cool the interior of buildings. The water would fall at such a rate that evaporation was not an issue. Thank you for stopping by and your comment.