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The Function (undated; late 1960s)
Bernhard and Hilla Becher

The function of cooling-towers is to cool off the cooling-water which has become warm in the progress of work. Cooling-water is used to bring down the temperature of liquids or gases or regain water otherwise lost through condensation.

Modern power stations have an average hourly water consumption of 100,000 cubic meters. Nowadays it is seldom possible to extract such huge water supplies from rivers or lakes without disturbing their biological structure. Mains-water is either insufficient or too expensive. The problem is solved relatively simply:

As soon as the water has completed the job of cooling (during which its temperature has risen a few degrees) it is piped into the lower part of the cooling-tower and, by means of a canal system, is distributed evenly over the complete bisection.

Spray-plates built into the bases of distributing canals spray the water in fine drops, which then drop through several layers of lattices. By checking the fall of the waterdrops the water is exposed as long as possible on as many surfaces as possible to the surrounding atmosphere.

Three processes take place successively:
    1) The water radiates some of its heat into the air.
    2) The warm air fuses the water and causes condensation-coldness.
    3) The rising warm air and water mixture draws up cold air from below.

The cooled water is collected in a concrete basin beneath the tower and from there it repeats the complete process.