Microbiological Control in Cooling Water Systems
By William F. Harfst
Microbiological problems are a common occurrence in cooling water systems. Microbes are present in the air, soil, and water. Under the proper conditions, these microscopic plants and animals grow into large populations that can block water flow, impede heat transfer, destroy wood, induce corrosion, and cause offensive odors. If left unchecked, microbiological colonies will promote rapid degradation of the cooling water system. In July 1976, one microbiological problem was brought to national attention when a group of Legionnaires were stricken by an unknown flu-like illness while attending a Legionnairesﾒ convention in Philadelphia at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel. 182 attendees were stricken with the illness, and 29 of the Legionnaires died from the infection. The cause was eventually traced to what is now known as Legionella pneumophila, a bacteria that is commonly found in water systems. Cooling towers are known to be a potential source for Legionella p, but so are potable water systems, decorative fountains, and misting devices. This article will discuss more broadly the issues microorganisms can cause in cooling water systems and present the methods that are commonly used to combat these problems.
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