NASA Langley Research Center is seeking to upgrade their cooling towers to improve water efficiency at a reasonable cost to the facility. Solutions that provide water reduction in cooling tower operations without impact to the mission or increased risk to health, safety, or environment are of highest interest.


At NASA Langley, cooling towers account for 55% of total potable water usage for an average of 37 million gallons a year. Cooling towers draw potable water from the distribution system and pump water through a system, absorbing heat and cooling the system. Hot water returns to the cooling tower, where it passes over fill, material that facilitates evaporation, eliminating the excess heat as water vapor. Cooling water is treated with chemicals to reduce precipitation, scale formation, and biological growth. When certain parameters exceed operational limits, water is discharged to the environment, which carries pollutants of environmental concern. This cycle is continuous and contributes to the water usage intensity of evaporative cooling towers.


  • Reduce potable water usage in cooling towers or increase water efficiency
  • Avoid or minimize pollutants (especially copper, zinc, or chlorine)
  • Cost-effective
  • Able to work in humid climates

Possible Solution Areas

  • Retrofits of existing cooling towers
  • Chemical water treatments
  • Heat transfer and hydrophobic materials
  • Novel processes and designs to improve the water efficiency of cooling towers

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Provision or potential collaboration on technology that is able to reduce water usage in cooling towers. Proposed changes to water treatment chemistry are acceptable.