A method of water conservation that has been widely proven to be highly effective is the capture and reuse of condensate from large air-handling units. In addition to the fact that no region of the country is immune from drought, treated potable water costs money, making the collection of thousands, perhaps even millions, of gallons of condensate annually for onsite reuse a smart choice. A Condensate Capture Potential Map published by ASHRAE and the Department of Energy has designated New Jersey's condensate collection potential as high to medium-high.
When humid air passes over AHU cooling coils, condensate forms rapidly and is typically discarded into the sanitary or storm sewer system. In a condensate capturing system, the condensate is directed to a central storage tank or basin and distributed for reuse. Possible uses for the collected water include cooling tower makeup, pre-cooling, irrigation, ornamental fountains and ponds, industrial process makeup, and toilet and urinal flushing.
Routing condensate directly to a cooling tower is typically the best use for reclaimed condensate. Most condensate is clean, essentially-distilled water low in mineral content, and because cooling tower water is always treated, no additional treatment is required. Condensate used in applications where water may be aerosolized and inhaled, such as sprinklers and toilet flushing, should be filtered and disinfected to remove the risk of biological contamination, while use in drip irrigation is generally considered safe.
Local climate, type, size and number of buildings and cooling systems, use patterns, and outdoor air requirements should be considered when deciding whether HVAC condensate recovery is a good option. Large laboratory buildings, which require a great deal of outdoor air, are ideal for condensate capture, as are buildings with high-density occupancy. Payback is usually quick, occurring in as little as one year.
For more information about condensate capture and whether it's right for your facility, contact PJM at (609) 921-1394.
PJM Mechanical Contractors, Inc. is a multi-faceted mechanical contractor providing construction and installation, service and maintenance, and design/build services in a comprehensive range of mechanical disciplines that include HVAC, plumbing, controls, refrigeration, custom metal fabrication, piping, and backflow preventer testing. PJM primarily serves clients in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, healthcare, institutional, and other various commercial and industrial sectors.