Cooling Towers

Innovational Water Solutions (IWS) specializes in water systems management for Cooling Towers, IWS knows that to get the most out of cooling tower treatments a system management program that includes our schedule IWS service must be followed. The efficiency and longevity of the cooling tower and equipment depends on the proper management of water recirculated through the tower. IWS Cooling Tower System Management Program customers are reducing treatment use and reducing energy and water use while getting optimum efficiency out of their cooling tower systems.

At IWS we diagnose, address and then maintain four significant problem areas to be addressed with cooling tower water systems management program:
Scale – When fresh water is added, impurities are introduced. As water evaporates impurities remain, increasing the potential for scale forming deposits.
Corrosion – Whenever water and metal come into contact, corrosion is possible.
Fouling – Airborne contaminants such as dust, dirt and leaves can get into the tower.
Microbiological Contaminants – Algae, fungi, yeasts, molds and bacteria can cause corrosion, leading to scaling, trap foulants and can cause excessive energy consumption.
A cooling tower with any of these problems is costing additional money to run and potentially leading to increased mechanical problems. Each cooling tower system is different and IWS programs are tailored to fit each system. IWS uses cutting-edge cooling tower products to treat scale, corrosion, fouling and microbiological contaminants.

Legionnaire Disease Bacteria (LDB) may be growing in biofilms and biomasses that could be hidden from sight in your cooling tower. Innovational Water Solutions Legionella Management Program will monitor LDB in your system. The program includes:
• ATP Testing to monitor biological growth
• Testing for Legionella Disease Bacteria (LDB) by an authorized CDC Elite Testing Facility

Biofouling in cooling tower systems is worldwide, multi-billion-dollar problem. Biofilm is the primary cause or a chief contributor to the following cooling tower system complications.

Biofilm Formation

Biofilm is a consortium of microbial life and cooling towers act as complex ecosystems where bacteria and other organisms can thrive and safely multiply. Biofilm formation occurs in multiple distinct steps as shown in Figure 1. This process begins with the formation of a conditioning film onto which planktonic microorganisms will attach, multiply and eventually form a sessile colony. Salts and macromolecules present in the water absorb onto the pipe walls or other systems surfaces. Next, one or more pioneering microorganisms will come in contact with the conditioning film vial local hydrodynamics or swimming and then adhere to the conditioned surface. This initial adhesion is reversible if the pioneering microorganisms find that the conditioning film does not provide a suitable environment for colonization. If the microorganisms find the film to be a hospitable location, they will produce a glue-like exopolysaccharide and form an attachment that is irreversible without external influence. At this point, the microorganisms will reproduce at an exponential rate, leading to proper biofilm development on the substrate. As the resulting biofilm matures, certain specimens may detach from the colony in search of a new colonization site elsewhere in the system. The propagation of biofilm continues through a repeating cycle of adherence, growth and detachment.

Heat Transfer Inefficiency

Biofilms forms an insulative layer in system piping and heat exchangers, creating a barrier between recirculating cooling water and heat exchange surfaces. Biofilm carries more than four times the insulating capacity of calcium carbonate scale. Additionally, biofilms in pipes and heat exchangers create frictional resistance to recirculation water, resulting in increases in the power required to operate recirculating pumps. The California Society for Healthcare Engineering estimates that a layer of biofilm measuring just 150 microns in thickness will result in a 5.3% increase in energy consumption in cooling tower systems, while a biofilm measuring 900 microns in thickness will result in a 32.2% increase.

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion

Biofilms can harbor a variety of bacteria including anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). SRB obtain oxygen by reducing sulfate and produce hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct. Hydrogen sulfide disassociates in water to forms weak acid, which corrodes the underlying metal to which SRB are attached. This process of microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) is known to create pits with localized corrosion rates up to 100 mils per year. If left untreated, MIC can penetrate completely through metal surfaces at an alarming rate. It is estimated that 205 of all damage attributed to corrosion in fluid systems is microbiologically influenced.

Scale Formation

As biofilms grow on heat exchange surfaces, the carboxylate groups present in the extracellular polysaccharide matrix can attract scale-forming cations such as calcium. The biofilm acts as a binding agent for these minerals, resulting in an even more robust biofilm with calcium fixed close to the heat exchange surface. This altered surface structure can attract seed crystals in the bulk water, which promote the formation of mineral scales.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Much attention and countless resources have been devoted to the study, treatment and prevention of disease caused by bacteria present in potable water and evaporative cooling tower systems. It has been reported that up to 18,000 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease are reported each year in the U.S. alone. The physical debilitation and loss of life associated with bacteria bred in biofilm make this one of the more troubling cooling tower systems concerns.

Testing for microbial activity is an effective way to monitor the level of biofouling in a system.

Biofouling reduces heat transfer efficiency and effectiveness of the biocide treatment. This will raise the costs of operating the system by increasing the energy required and additional chemical treatment. It also raises the health risks to the facility’s employees and visitors.

Microbial activity can indicate biomass growth, and biofilms which could harbor Legionella bacteria.


  • If the reading is high, our technicians will be there to adjust the water treatment program.
  • The ATP Test has the highest accuracy of any other field test (dip slides and other tests).
  • The ATP Test is a great value.
  • ATP tests are completed onsite, dip slides require 24-48 hours for incubation.
  • Dip slides require an incubator, the materials and time.
  • Higher accuracy:
    • ATP tests measure all cells including individual cells in a clump. Dip slides measure in CFU (colony forming units) and 1 CFU could be from a single cell or a clump of cells.
    • ATP measures all the cells. Dip slide samples must “grow” on the media and in order to see the cells with the naked eye the cells need to grow and multiply. Some metabolic dyes added to aid in the visualization can interfere with the growth of the cells on the media.
    • The type of organism grown on a dip slide will depend on the type of media on the dip slide. Typically only 10% of cells will grow on a given media

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