Cooling tower enjoys second life at Hawaiian rum processor
Engineered plastic cooling tower stands up to New Hampshire winters before it is relocated to Maui's North Shore to face the harsh wind, salt air and UV rays
To begin, the father and son team, Paul and Brian Case, had to make a substantial investment that would meet the federal code governing building facilities. These were stringent, applying to stainless steel tanks, boilers and other distillation equipment. Also, the regulations require an elaborate fire containment system, one that could make 3,500 gallons of water per minute available with a flow that could be sustained for three hours. And, finally, they needed a reliable cooling tower that could remove the heat from the alcohol condenser system regardless of weather conditions.
Paul Case explains that the cooling tower was integral to the operation of the distillery’s alcohol condensation process. “After vaporous alcohol leaves our stills, it runs through a condenser, which condenses the alcohol back to a liquid form so we can process it. The condensers are cooled by water. So, we have to take that water, which becomes heated while cooling the alcohol, and send it to the cooling tower to reduce the water temperature, and then back through the continuous condenser loop.”
Selecting an appropriate cooling tower was a special consideration due to
In the process of exploring alternatives, Case found a used cooling tower constructed of heavy-duty, engineered HDPE that was available from a computer chip manufacturer that had closed a plant in
“I did some research and found that the cooling tower manufacturer produced a quality product, and decided that for the price, we could afford to buy the secondhand tower and controls, have it disassembled, shipped to Maui and reassembled at our distillery site,” says Case.
The Paragon model is relatively light in weight, impervious to UV rays and corrosion-proof. Case says he was very impressed with the weather tolerance of the cooling tower, which had operated for about six years in the brutal winters of the northeastern US and now has operated in the tropical sun at the distillery since 2006.
After the cooling tower operated flawlessly for years in
Case’s maintenance people were able to quickly replace the entire fan assembly, which was a proprietary, non-corroding, fiber-reinforced, polypropylene unit. Immediately afterward, the plant was back up and running again.
“When you consider that the cooling tower had changed hands about five years ago and was about 15 years old, Delta Cooling really took fabulous care of us,” says Case.
Case adds the design of the cooling tower fan system provides important energy savings, because the tower controls regulate the speed of the fan according to the ambient air temperature.
“In the cooler morning hours, the fan doesn’t even come on,” says Case. “Then, later in the day as the ambient air warms up, the fan rotates automatically at the appropriate speed to cool the condenser water from up to about 180º back to about 80º.”
Today, Kolani Distillers’ Old Lahaina Premium Rum is sold throughout the