OT: Ignorant public perception of natural draft cooling towers

Can anyone explain the very common public mis-understanding of the role of
natural-draft cooling towers used in fossil-fueled as well as nuclear-fueled
electric generating plants?
For example, today's (January 16) Dallas Morning News devotes about two full
pages devoted to nuclear power plants, with both photographic detail as well
as an artist's rendition of natural-draft cooling towers scattered around
the country. Evidently, because natural-draft cooling towers are large and
highly visible even from several miles distant, such towers have somehow
become a visual metaphor for nuclear energy. WRONG! Those cooling towers
simply cool the condensate coming from steam-driven turbines. They have no
technical relationship with nuclear power other than the fact that they are
generally located near the turbine-generator unit. Such cooling towers have
long been in use at fossil-fueled power plants decades before the advent
of nuclear energy.
Reply to
David Anderson
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In a word? Ignorance.
A state that *FAR* too many people consider "home".
FWIW: Saginaw's Nodular Iron (or is it Grey Iron? I always manage to confuse those two - Might be because they sit almost literally across the street (M-13, AKA River Road) from each other, and are "joined at the hip" by a bridge over M-13 that carries a shitload of plumbing and wiring between them) foundry has two of them in operation - They keep the workers from cooking during a pour. I once asked about them, and was told that each one is roughly equivalent to a 400 ton AC unit. (fairly impressive to me, since I understand that a *MAJOR* office building might only sport a 6-10 ton AC)
The reason they don't raise a "no-nukes" stink? They don't look like the nuke-plant versions - They're two large rectangular stacks of what look (even up close) like corrugated iron with water running down 'em - about 80 feet long by about 30 wide, by about 40 tall.
Reply to
Don Bruder
Hmm, in my travels in NY, CT, MD I haven't seen a non-nuke power plant that happens to use cooling towers. Perhaps in many areas they just don't get used except on nuke plants.
Reply to
For a long time, Florida fossil-fuel plants used cooling lagoons -- long serpentine lakes that had a total water path of a couple of miles from effluent to intake. But those are being phased out in favor of cooling towers.
Several of th coal/oil fired plants in our area now have the towers.
Reply to
Lloyd E. Sponenburgh
In the English Midlands there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of natural-draft cooling towers for coal-fired electric power stations probably constructed in the 1930's and 40's -- long before the first nuclear power station. The 'wingers and rabble-rousers who employ images of natural-draft cooling towers as a icon of protest against nuclear power unwittingly and publicly demonstrate their ignorance while flunking .
Reply to
David Anderson
HUH? A larger home (~2500 Sq. Ft.) would normally have a 5 ton AC. For home air conditioning in most climates, a ton of AC equals one horsepower. Our office buildings at work have 250 - 500 ton centrifugal electric chillers. The 500 ton units usually handle two buildings.
Reply to
Jon Elson
More to the point in the UK, we don't have nukes with natural draught cooling towers. The only ones I can think of are the plutonium / tritium production plants of Windscale and Chapelcross. For the last few decades these sites have been rather publicity shy and so they're not the general media impression of a nuke power plant.
Our nukes are largely gas cooled, PWRs are rare and I don't think there are any BWR, although I don't think this is relevant here (I think it's geography that's significant and the fact we're never far from the sea in the UK). They all use "ambient" water cooling, nearly all being sited on the coast. One was on a lake and a couple are on large estuaries. They've also tended to be fairly plain rectangular buildings rather than a distinctive concrete containment dome.
Of course there will be exceptions. Feel free to list them. WAGR?
Reply to
Andy Dingley
I'm for nuclear power, but I think you're off base. The fact that it's used as a graphical symbol does not mean everybody using it or viewing it believes it is anything but a cooling tower. Using a concrete containment structure as a symbol wouldn't communicate anything to anybody.
Reply to
Indeed. The Rancho Seco nuke was decommissioned several years ago and the cooling towers are making clouds again. The utility built a 500MW natural gas plant on-site to use the existing towers and switchyard.
Reply to
Jim Stewart

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