Guest Author: Scott Jacobs, PE, Director of Engineering at Port-A-Cool, LLC
Recently, I had the pleasure of providing a white paper to Plant Services magazine. Here, please find the opening preview to the white paper:
Many industries face challenges when it comes to providing a cool working environment, particularly in heat-susceptible areas such as industrial plants, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and outdoor jobsites. These extreme-heat situations can impact worker safety and productivity, and certainly, the company’s bottom-line. Without adequate cooling, workers are put in danger while equipment and manufactured products are at an increased risk for failure.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure each year. However, heat-related illnesses are preventable. “The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler,” OSHA states. The dilemma becomes how to effectively and economically cool large, open areas where high-ambient outdoor temperatures and heat-generating machinery are factors.
Weighing the drawbacks of typical cooling methods
Traditionally, air conditioning (A/C) is a go-to cooling method. However, in large open spaces, the first impediment is the inability to close the space off and contain the inside air to achieve maximum cooling. Areas where outside doors will be open, such as in a warehouse, allow air to escape and render A/C an impractical solution. Another drawback is that air conditioners require compressors and a place to ventilate the heat generated from the compressor. This limits the mobility of an A/C unit given the fixed-ductwork and adds another point of heat generation. Harsh refrigerants and energy consumption are other downfalls. Refrigerants are an integral part of air conditioning systems to emit cool air, and A/C can pull a great deal of energy that translates to more energy expense.
Fans – both oscillating and ceiling options – seem like a quick, inexpensive fix to cooling workers and machinery. However, fans simply circulate stagnate air throughout the space. The air is not chilled in any capacity and cannot reach all areas of the large space to be cooled. In fact, industrial ceiling fans seem to be particularly more effective in the winter to improve heating operations by giving airflow to warm air.
An energy-efficient and cost-effective approach
OSHA provides clear guidelines for heat-related illness prevention, listing cooling fans as one of the top “engineering controls” for reducing workers’ exposure to heat.
In this white paper, Here, we review the efficiencies of utilizing an evaporative cooler.