Over the past 30 years there has been a growing and competing demand for water for both domestic and industrial use and this has brought an increased interest in the use of air as a cooling medium in place of water. Air cooled condenser is a device, which uses ambient air in place of water and used to cool the fluids. Air cooled condensers are suitable for arid/semi arid regions and at places where there is shortage of water supply.
In water scarce areas, it is difficult to implement power plant projects using conventional plant design. With the use of air cooled condenser, instead of water cooled condenser and cooling tower system, it is possible to implement biomass power plant almost everywhere.
A typical 10 MW power plant requires around 1,600 cubic metre of water every day for its operation. Many times, such huge quantity of water requirement results in approval delays from the Government side. Sometimes, there is a risk of rejection of approval also. In this type of situations, air condensers are most viable option. Such air condenser design reduces the water requirement by around 80%.
However, the overall plant efficiency of the system is lower than that with water cooled condensers and the overall power plant investment cost is high. Air cooled condensers are recommended in places only when considerable water issues are there.