Cooling towers and condensers both heat exchanger equipment but operate in opposite ways.
Condensers turn a substance from gas to liquid by way of cooling it (with either air or water that would come from a cooling tower). Latent heat is then given up by the substance during condensation (as liquids have a lower energy state then gasses) and transported to the cooling medium (again, air or water mostly). Condensers come in different sizesand can be used in various areas such as air conditioning, industrial and chemical processes, power plants and other heat exchange systems.
Cooling towers on the other hand are specialized heat exchangers in which both air and water are carried into direct interaction with each other so that the water’s temperature will be reduced which happens predominantly via evaporation. Energy that is required to evaporate the water (normally 1% of circulating water is evaporated for approximately 5C of temperature drop) is withdrawn from the water stream that can be cooled down below ambient temperature approaching the so-called wet bulb temperature. The cooling tower water of a so-called open loop cooling tower normally circulates over a condenser or heat exchanger to transport excess heat from the processes.