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HVAC Cooling Condensate Recovery Applications

Todd Mowinski, Newcomb & Boyd

This poster will explore the various methods of recovering condensate from cooling coils. As warm, humid air is drawn across cooling coils in air handling units, the moisture in the air condenses out of the air stream and is collected at the bottom of the unit in a drain pan. Traditionally, this condensate is simply piped to the sanitary drain system and is lost. Collecting this water can save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water every year in a typical lab building for an acceptable first cost. An ideal use for this collected water is cooling tower make-up. As the cooling tower operates, water evaporates at a substantial rate. In most systems, this water is made up by adding water from the domestic water system. By simply adding some additional piping, storage tanks, and pumps, the collected water from the cooling coils can be used in lieu of the domestic water system during most of the cooling cycle. The poster will first outline the calculations required to determine the amount of condensate generated in a building using temperature bin data and then will discuss physical arrangement of the systems, equipment required, life-cycle costs, and control strategies and operation. The poster will stress the significant amount of water that is traditionally lost compared to the relatively simple and inexpensive strategies for recovery. Other uses of this collected water will also be discussed, such as toilet water make-up and landscape irrigation.


The poster will compare two systems with different design solutions with respect to the architectural constraints. These two options will illustrate the different design challenges unique to each from a first cost, energy cost, life cycle cost and maintenance standpoint. The poster will show that the location of the equipment involved (cooling towers and cooling coils) has a substantial impact on system design.

The poster will also discuss how using the equipment provided with every cooling tower (water sensing probes, cooling tower basin) can be used in a unique way to reduce additional equipment and controls required for the recovery system.

Labs21 Connection:

The condensate recovery system will address several principles of the Labs21 Approach to laboratory design. The life-cycle cost of the relatively small amount of additional equipment required versus the water efficiency of the building will show that this system is an attractive option for almost all building types. The system and building will be commissioned. The system also employs water flow meter technology to allow the users to quantify the amount of water saved by the condensate recovery system compared to the amount of water used by the traditional domestic water system. The building may achieve a LEED™ innovation point for the condensate recovery system.


Todd Mowinski earned his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997. During his seven years with Newcomb & Boyd, he has developed particular expertise in the design of mechanical systems for laboratory and research facilities. Todd's experience includes laboratory projects for Emory University, Tulane University, and University of North Carolina. His work totals more than 600 thousand square feet and over 100 million dollars in construction value.


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