Industrial Cooling Systems

Crystal Lagoons has developed and patented a sustainable cooling system for industrial processes, such as thermal power plants and data centers, where a sustainable cooling lagoon is built in connection to an industrial process to provide high-quality cooling water for its cooling stage. 

This technology has many advantages over current cooling technologies like “once-through cooling systems”, which are open cooling systems that produce environmental damage due to the withdrawal of large volumes of water from natural sources, and the discharge of heated water back to the source, producing thermal pollution; and also when compared with cooling towers, which have high energy and water consumption, as well as high capital costs.
Current cooling technologies waste large amounts of waste heat into the environment, while the cooling technology developed by Crystal Lagoons allows huge amounts of energy that is currently lost to be recovered and to use this wasted energy for processes such as greenhouse heating, residential heating, drying processes, to name just a few; or it can even be used to provide year-round pleasantly heated lagoons, used for recreational purposes, never before seen. Furthermore, the waste heat can be used for desalinating water with no additional energy by using Crystal Lagoons membrane distillation technologies– helping to solve one of the world’s biggest problems: water scarcity.

Conventional Thermal Power Plant Cooling Systems

Approximately 80% of the world’s electricity is generated by fossil fuel power plants that require a cooling stage, and such facilities currently use very large volumes of water in order to cool their processes. Two commonly used cooling systems are OTC or once-through cooling systems, which have negative environmental impacts, and wet cooling towers systems, which have high capital and operational costs, as well as having large water and energy consumption and producing pollution due to water discharge (blowdown) and drift. The other one is the wet cooling tower system, which has high capital and operating costs, generating pollution due to the discharge of water with high concentrations of chemicals and salts into natural water bodies. Additionally, it produces drift, consisting of a spray with water microparticles containing additives that are subsequently dispersed in the surrounding area, causing harmful effects on the ecosystem.

Once-Through Cooling Systems:

Most thermal power plants in the world use once-through cooling systems, which operate by withdrawing large volumes of water directly from the sea or other natural sources (rivers, lakes, etc.). This system produces severe environmental damage during the water intake, because many aquatic organisms are caught up and subsequently killed in the process and at the water outlet, where hot water is discharged back into the sea (or lakes and rivers), generating thermal pollution and altering ecosystems. This process has been banned in various countries, including the U.S., due to its environmental impact on aquatic flora and fauna, requiring the use of closed circuit cooling systems.

Wet Cooling Towers:

The current alternative to once-through cooling systems is the use of wet cooling towers. These cooling towers operate by transferring the heat into the atmosphere through an exchange between the hot water and the air inside evaporation towers. This technology is costly to install and operate, because it uses large amounts of energy, through the fans and pumps that are required. Furthermore, cooling towers dissipate heat through evaporation, and these high evaporation rates lead to high water consumption. Finally, cooling towers are prone to drift (water droplets carried in the air away from the tower that land on nearby terrain), and also require a permanent water flow to be discharged to maintain water quality in the towers; this increases water consumption even more, because large water volumes are needed for refill, due to evaporation and discharge.

The Solution: Crystal Lagoons® Sustainable Cooling Technology

Crystal Lagoons has developed and patented a state-of-the-art sustainable closed cooling system for industrial processes. This system can be used by thermal power plants, paper mills, refineries, foundries, concentrated solar power plants, and data centers, among others, to dissipate waste heat from industrial processes through the use of man-made sustainable lagoons in a closed circuit cooling cycle.

The sustainable cooling system Crystal Lagoons® operates by capturing high-quality water from a transparent lagoon to power the cooling cycle of the industrial process. The cooling water absorbs heat as it passes through the industrial process, and it is then discharged back into the lagoon, thus completing the closed cycle. The water cools as it flows through the man-made lagoon, where the heat is dissipated by evaporation, conduction, convection and radiation.

Compared to once-through cooling systems, the low-cost closed circuit Crystal Lagoons® technology not only removes the environmental impact generated by these cooling systems, it also eliminates the issue of biofouling found in most open cooling systems. The patented water treatment technology maintains the water quality at optimal levels, therefore significantly reducing equipment maintenance costs. Crystal Lagoons technology allows large amounts of waste heat that is currently wasted to be recovered from industrial processes, in order to use it in different processes.

Compared with cooling towers, sustainable cooling lagoons have lower energy and water consumption, all the while providing a high quality water reservoir for the facility, as well as an aesthetic and recreational feature. Furthermore, as the hot water is discharged back to the lagoon, it is being heated and it can later be used in processes such as residential and greenhouse heating, thermal desalination, drying processes, or used directly in year-round heated lagoons for recreational usage. Furthermore, the heat that is a byproduct of their sustainable cooling lagoons can be used to desalinate water with no additional energy, producing fresh water with energy that would otherwise go to waste.

It is important to mention that this technology has been patented in the United States under the Fast Track Green Technology Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), where only 1 out of 1,500 patents is granted through this program, confirming the sustainable nature of our state-of-the-art cooling lagoons.

Benefits of Crystal Lagoons®
Sustainable Cooling Technology

WASTE HEAT UTILIZATION: In conventional coal-fired power plants, only one third of the energy is transformed into electricity, while the remaining two thirds are lost to the environment through waste heat. Therefore, considerable amounts of thermal energy, in the form of large volumes of hot water, are wasted mainly through the cooling systems. It is estimated that the total amount of thermal energy wasted from industrial processes amounts to up to 10 times more than the energy produced by renewable energy plants (such as photovoltaic and wind power plants). In addition, if we were able to use all of the available thermal energy from power plants, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would be reduced by 50%. Crystal Lagoons® sustainable cooling technology allows facilities to capture waste heat from these processes and use it in different applications, such as residential heating, thermal desalination, greenhouses and pre-heating of fluids, among others.

RECREATIONAL VALUE: Crystal Lagoons® sustainable cooling technology can be coupled with real estate development and recreational projects, providing heated man-made lagoons all year round, for recreational purposes, bringing a view of the Caribbean anywhere in the world. These lagoons powered by Crystal Lagoons® technology provide high quality water and are an ideal venue for water sports, such as kayaking and sailing, as well as swimming, and of course it is a unique visual attraction. As such, the lagoons increase the property value of nearby communities, benefiting the local economy and tourism. Furthermore, in colder climates, closed domes can be used to create a tropical beach paradise by using the heat of a thermal power plant to provide a heated lagoon and also heat the air to create a temperate micro-climate within the dome.


Case Study: First Plant in Operation Using Crystal Lagoons® Sustainable Cooling Technology

The San Isidro Sustainable Cooling Lagoon was the first sustainable cooling lagoon in the world, and was part of a combined cycle power plant owned by Endesa (a subsidiary of Enel from Italy). Crystal Lagoons carried out the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the San Isidro Cooling Lagoon, cooling down a portion of the power plant’s water flow, which was previously operated using a cooling tower system fed by well water. This experience and project has validated the computational simulation models and laboratory tests of the cooling technology analysis. It also facilitated empirical testing of the lagoon’s heat dissipation capacity. The overall results confirmed the capacity of the sustainable cooling technology;
water analysis confirmed its excellent quality and that it eliminates scaling and biofouling in the piping and equipment. The cooling lagoon also provides an important feature for the power plant, generating a source of reserve water for the facility, as well as an aesthetical improvement to previously unused land, combining industrial and recreational opportunities.

Advantages of Industrial Cooling Systems Compared to Once-Through Cooling Systems:

  • They allow large amounts of thermal energy that is currently wasted and normally discharged into the sea to be used in industrial processes, for use in many applications, such as membrane distillation processes for fresh water production (desalination for producing freshwater with no additional energy), heating the lagoon for recreational purposes; using it for residential and industrial heating, and in drying processes, among others.
  • They eliminate environmental damage associated with withdrawing water directly from the sea (or other water bodies), which negatively affects marine flora and fauna.
  • They avoid thermal pollution and alteration of the marine ecosystem caused by the discharge of hot water into the sea (or other natural water sources).
  • They eliminate biofouling, reducing maintenance costs and increasing heat transfer efficiency.
  • They provide community benefits by using the lagoon for recreational purposes.
  • They allow facilities to be placed far from natural water sources (sea), and near centers where there is demand (cities).
  • They enable any type of water to be used (freshwater, seawater or even brackish).

Compared to Wet Cooling Towers:

  • They allow large amounts of thermal energy that is currently wasted and normally discharged into the air through evaporation to be used in industrial processes and in many applications, such as membrane distillation processes for producing fresh water (desalination for producing freshwater with no additional energy), heating of the lagoon, residential and industrial heating, drying processes, and many others.
  • Low installation costs.
  • Low power consumption, as it does not require fans.
  • Low water consumption.
  • It does not generate drift (water droplets with high chemical concentration that escape from cooling towers to nearby terrain).
  • It minimizes biofouling, which reduces maintenance costs and increases heat transfer efficiency.
  • It does not generate visible plume.
  • It brings aesthetical advantages.
  • It increases community value, using the lagoon for recreational purposes.

Industrial Cooling Systems

Crystal Lagoons has developed a technology that enables large bodies of water to be maintained with excellent water quality and at a very low cost. They can be built on the side of a commercial or residential facility in order to provide a stable media for heat transfer with Heat Pump systems and, therefore, provide air conditioning or heating to the facilities at very low costs, saving 50% in energy consumption compared to conventional systems.

Conventional air conditioning and heating systems (HVAC) operate by transferring heat to the outside air through heat pump systems. However, water has about four times more capacity for heat transfer; therefore, using water for cooling or heating spaces or facilities is more efficient than using air.

The Crystal Lagoons® solution provides turquoise, clear lagoons with excellent water quality at very low costs that can be built next to residential communities or commercial facilities (such as hotels, airports, etc.). This is ideal for supplying high-quality water for heat transfer and for providing air conditioning or heating as well to such facilities, all at low cost and generally saving up to 50% of energy consumption compared to conventional HVAC systems. Such lagoons can also be used for recreational purposes, enhancing the local landscape as the World’s Top Amenity.

Industrial Cooling Systems

As a sub-product of the sustainable cooling system, where a cooling lagoon is connected to a thermal power plant that operates in a closed circuit, high-quality hot water is generated. Such hot water flow can be used directly from the lagoon to generate fresh water through a Membrane Distillation process without requiring additional energy consumption. This technology promises to be a major breakthrough for the world.

Crystal Lagoons has developed a revolutionary technology for using large amounts of thermal energy wasted in industrial processes, which can generate a major breakthrough worldwide by producing fresh water with no energy.

In the world, more than 50,000 power plants and other industrial facilities currently waste huge amounts of energy, mainly through their cooling systems. Such enormous amounts of energy are lost in the form of large volumes of water at relatively low temperatures, referred to as “low-grade waste heat” or LGWH. The total amount of thermal energy that is lost is very high, and it is estimated that the waste heat from current power plants and other industrial facilities in the world is up to 10 times higher than the energy produced by renewable energy plants (such as photovoltaic and wind power plants). Also, the World Economic Forum has announced that the water crisis is the #1 long-term global risk based on its impact on society.

Crystal Lagoons has developed a technology that allows large amounts of waste thermal energy from industrial processes to be used in order to produce fresh water through membrane distillation, all at low costs, providing a possible solution to the most important problem in the world currently.

Membrane distillation is a desalination technology driven by a temperature gradient that allows fresh water to be extracted from hot salt water. The technology consists of water vapor passing through the membrane, forced by the temperature difference of the water that flows on both sides of the membrane. This technology requires hot seawater of high purity to avoid the membrane getting clogged, and to maintain the efficiency of the process. The biggest limitation to expanding this technology relates to the difficulty in obtaining large volumes of hot seawater of high quality and at low cost. However, this is solved by Crystal Lagoons ® technology that provides large volumes of excellent quality water for desalination purposes, and at low costs.

New Developments
Pump Storage: Providing Continuity to Renewable Energy

Crystal Lagoons® technology can also be used to maintain excellent water quality in pump storage systems, enabling stability and continuity to be provided in electricity generation at renewable power plants, such as wind farms or solar plants. When there is available renewable energy, the water is pumped to a high-level lagoon, storing potential energy. Then, when electricity is required, the water is discharged to a low-level lagoon, producing energy through a hydroelectric turbine.

Pump storage systems store and generate energy by moving water between two reservoirs at different elevations. Such systems provide electricity generation stability and continuity at renewable power plants with variable electricity generation because the natural resource used is not permanent, like solar or wind power plants that depend on the sun and wind, respectively. In such cases, water is pumped from a low-level lagoon to a high-level lagoon through renewable electricity during low electricity demand.

Water is released from the high-level lagoons to provide electricity during the night or periods of low wind, and electricity is generated, providing constant electricity output.

By using Crystal Lagoons® technology, excellent water quality is maintained in the water reservoirs used in pump storage systems, eliminating biofouling and minimizing equipment maintenance.

New Developments
Reverse Osmosis Cost Reduction

Crystal Lagoons® technology allows seawater to be pre-treated at low cost through a treatment lagoon, providing high-quality water for feeding the reverse osmosis process. This method considerably reduces investment and operational costs at the pretreatment stage, generating an efficient and sustainable alternative to current pre-treatment processes while creating a high-quality water reservoir that allows recreational use.

Reverse osmosis is a widely used technology that can produce freshwater from saltwater (seawater or brackish water). The process is driven by a pressure gradient between saltwater and freshwater flows, separated by a semi-permeable membrane. When saltwater exceeds the system’s osmotic pressure, it produces pure water flow through the membrane, generating fresh water. However, for this process to operate properly, high-quality seawater must be used to ensure membranes are not clogged and damaged. Therefore, the highest cost of the reverse osmosis process occurs in the complex and expensive seawater pre-treatment required to obtain high-quality water.

New Developments
Artificial Aquifer Recharge: The Future of Water Reservoirs

This technology allows, at very low costs, surface runoff water to be purified through a treatment lagoon, where the water is collected during the rainy season and after the lagoon treatment, the water is rapidly infiltrated into underground aquifers through wells, to be used during droughts or in the dry season.

The world is facing an important problem: water scarcity. During rainy seasons, most of the water that falls to the ground goes unused, and ends up being wasted.

An efficient way to take advantage of currently lost rainwater is to store the water underground through direct aquifer infiltration. This process consists of collecting surface runoff rainwater, injecting it through wells, and storing it underground. While this process is efficient, it has a big limitation: to directly inject collected water into the aquifers and store it underground, the water must be of the highest quality.

Crystal Lagoons has developed a technology that allows surface runoff water to be treated and purified at very low costs through a pristine clear lagoon so that water can rapidly infiltrate the underground aquifers through wells, complying with strict infiltration regulations. Subsequently, the water stored in aquifers can be pumped to the surface for agriculture, mining, and sanitary purposes. This provides a reliable and high-quality water supply during drought or water shortage.

The great advantage of this technology over reservoirs is that it does not require flooding large land areas. It does not produce evaporation or deterioration of water quality.

New Developments
Seawater Purification: Saltwater Without Biofouling

This technology allows the sustainable construction and maintenance of seawater purification systems on a large scale and at a very low cost, for mining purposes. In this way, a high-quality water reservoir is created, and it can be used for recreational purposes, benefiting local communities.

Freshwater scarcity is a big problem for the world’s mining industry. The mining sector has reacted to the problem by adopting several actions that optimize water consumption through operational improvements and studying new alternatives for using different types of water. As a result, mining companies increasingly use seawater for their processes, transporting seawater through long pipelines from the ocean to the mines. However, seawater has a high organic content, which causes biofouling and leads to several problems associated with its transportation, such as piping deterioration, load reductions, and expensive coatings, among others.

Crystal Lagoons has developed and patented a low-cost technology for the eco-friendly purification of seawater through man-made lagoons that completely eliminate biofouling and eliminates organic matter that currently attaches itself to pipelines, generating high maintenance costs and associated downtime. This technology considerably reduces investment and operational costs by replacing current high-cost treatment systems and generating an efficient alternative to current processes.

This patented technology allows the sustainable construction and maintenance of seawater purification systems on a large scale and at a low cost, competently replacing current water treatment technologies. The technology also generates a high-quality water reservoir that can be used for recreational purposes, benefiting local communities.

Crystal Lagoons City

The Crystal Lagoons® city is a conceptual project that brings together all the different recreational and industrial applications of the technologies Crystal Lagoons offers, in both the public and private sectors, and for local communities to benefit from clean energy and water at very low costs, solving large global problems, while enjoying all the benefits of an idyllic beach lifestyle that Crystal Lagoons® technology provides.

The Crystal Lagoons® city includes several pristine clear lagoons with different applications: solving problems of pollution, producing freshwater without energy, improving the quality of life for people around the world, generating a safe recreational amenity without the use of land, providing continuity to renewable power plants, reducing pre-treatment costs for reverse osmosis processes, purifying seawater at low costs, and generating high-quality water reservoirs for their use in times of drought.

In the image, we can see the main park with a pristine clear lagoon and beach life as a main attraction that allows the safe practice of water sports while providing air conditioning and heating for a large number of nearby residential and commercial buildings, through heat pump systems. We can also see a floating lagoon that enables developers to take advantage of lakes and water bodies with poor water quality, creating a unique attraction that enables recreational uses such as swimming and sailing in a safe environment without using additional land.

A sustainable cooling lagoon can also be found in the industrial area, whose function is to cool the electricity generation process of a thermal power plant. The high quality hot water (by-product of the cooling system) is then sent to a membrane distillation process, where fresh water is produced without the use of additional energy, which can be used as drinking water, for irrigation, or other applications.

Furthermore, we can use this technology in a pump storage system for the pre-treatment of seawater for reverse osmosis systems and, finally, for artificial aquifer recharge processes, creating underground water reservoirs that can be used in times of drought.