• Project Type: Evaluation

 The Vital Structure: 

University Cooling Tower

Issue

Vital Structures was called for a general condition assessment for the main cooling tower system of a university campus steam generation plant. Cooling Towers are supported on a reinforced cast-in-place concrete frame structure on the roof of a 5-story academic building, with pre-cast concrete architectural panel siding.

The client has reported that the Cooling Tower was in need of renovation due to loss of efficiency, concerns of concrete section fall hazards, rust staining from structural components, failed coatings and worn waterproofing, and overall deterioration.

    Diagnosis

    A structural and building envelope review noted the following:

    • Corrosion of structural steel elements, including personnel walkway bar grating, fixed ladders, wall panel anchors and brackets, tension rod braces, pipe hangers and misc. metals.
    • Spalled and deteriorated concrete frame members, including corroded reinforcing steel.
    • Failed cooling tower basin coating system, resulting in exposure of the structural concrete roof deck to the cooling tower effluent.
    • Failed sealants, flashings, cooling tower panels, and miscellaneous cooling tower components.

     

     

     

    Solution

    Prepared engineering evaluation report with findings, included concrete petrographic analysis, chloride ion and carbonation testing, estimated repair quantities, and preliminary budget estimates.

    Engineered solutions recommended by Vital included:

    • Extending waterproofing systems onto vertical concrete masonry perimeter walls
    • Replacing of deflector panels
    • Repairing water collection sump grating and supports
    • Applying breathable coatings on elevated concrete
    • Replacing corroded tension rods/hardware
    • Creating a new upper tower access
    • Improving interior cooling media 
    • Replacing precast panel structural anchor systems
    • Installing new high-performance basin waterproofing

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