When it comes to your cooling system, its most common to find galvanized or stainless-steel components in and around your cooling tower or fluid cooler. But when it comes to closed-loop cooling towers, or fluid coolers, some manufacturers incorporate copper coils into their units. This less-common metal (for evaporative cooling, at least) offers a long list of advantages when it comes to the functions of fluid coolers, but only a few models on the market have copper coils as an option.
When looking at the advantages of copper, it’s obvious to see that copper makes an ideal material for heat transfer coils – especially because of its efficiency, its corrosion resistance and its recyclability. After all, it is because of these advantages that copper tubing has been used in heating, cooling and plumbing solutions for generations, and why it’s still used today in various applications, including water source heat pump (WSHP) systems for a wide variety of buildings around the world.
1. Better Thermal Efficiency Results in Footprint and Operational Advantages
Copper offers nearly 7X higher thermal conductivity than steel. This better conductivity enables equipment sizing and efficiency benefits, allowing for same or better efficiency in a smaller footprint. More efficiency usually leads to less input power required and, because lower coil volumes are typical, operators can see reduced cost and volume of glycol required for freeze protection in applicable climates.
In addition to footprint and input power advantages, units with copper coils usually weigh significantly less, which can reduce crane installation costs and simplify building structure analysis for retrofits. Less weight and smaller footprint can often lead to faster installation times, which can save operators/contractors additional costs, too.
2. Corrosion Resistance Offers Longer Service Life
In chemical terms, copper is defined as a “noble metal” based on its resistance to oxidation, or corrosion. This corrosion resistance is another reason why copper offers a distinct advantage over galvanized or carbon steel coils. Copper coils stand up better to occasional draining or other air introduction than HDG steel coils – which are often bare carbon steel on the inside and can rust in the presence of air – and can extend equipment life and simplify maintenance.
3. High Salvage Value, Long Service Life Make Copper a More-Sustainable Material
Aside from its long service life, copper is a more sustainable metal because it can be recycled easier – and for a higher salvage value – than many other materials, making it beneficial to both the owner and the environment. Typical salvage values of copper are more than 30X the typical scrap values for steel on a per pound basis. It is also considered to be “100% recyclable” and, according to several sources including this AMPCO Metal story, it is estimated that “80% of all copper ever produced in the last 10,000 years is still in use today.”
Copper Coil Options in Fluid Coolers
When it comes to copper in fluid coolers, not many manufacturers utilize this noble metal, even though copper tubing is commonly used in many closed-loop cooling systems, such as WSHP systems, to transfer fluids between heat pumps and other assets.
SPX Cooling Tech is one fluid cooler manufacturer that does offer copper coils in its units. One SPX Cooling product with copper heat transfer coils is the Marley MH Element Fluid Cooler, which offers industry-leading thermal performance with help from its unique coil configuration. The MH Element’s copper coils help deliver up to 15% higher thermal capacity and 20% lighter weight than compatible units with steel coils.
Copper heat transfer coils are also available in the Marley LW Fluid Cooler, which is designed for operators/contractors that need a reliable, compact fluid cooler installed quickly without sacrificing performance. The Marley LW is delivered as a single-piece – complete with factory-installed controls, single-point power connection and factory wiring and testing – to save significant installation time, while its copper coils offer better thermal efficiency than some larger units.
For more information about the benefits of copper coils in your fluid cooler, or for more details about the fluid coolers mentioned above, fill out this form at spxcooling.com/fluidcoolers. An SPX Cooling representative can help you decide if copper is right for your needs, and which unit would be the best fit for your application.