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Desuperheating
BasicDesuperheating
Theory
BasicDesuperheaterTypes
OtherTypesofDesuperheater
TypicalInstallations

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BasicDesuperheatingTheory

Desuperheating

BasicDesuperheatingTheory
Superheated steam has important advantages on
certain applications, for example, when used in
power stations to drive turbines. For efficient use
on heating applications however, the steam must
be desuperheated. This tutorial considers basic
desuperheatingtheoryandcalculations.
Use the quick links below to take you to the main
sectionsofthistutorial:

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ControlSystems
Browsethefullrangeof
controlsystemssuitablefor
thisapplication.

Desuperheating

ControlValves

Superheatedsteamissteamthatisatatemperaturehigherthanthesaturationtemperatureforthesteam
pressure.Forexample,steamatapressureof3barghasasaturationtemperatureof143.762C.Iffurther
heatweretobeaddedtothissteamandthepressureremainedat3barg,itwouldbecomesuperheated.
Thisextraheatresultsinsteamwhich:

Usethecalculatortosize
thecoolingcontrolvalve.

Ishigherthansaturationtemperature.
Containsmoreenergythansaturatedsteam.
Hasagreaterspecificvolumethansaturatedsteam.

Feature
TheSteamand
CondensateLoopBook

The relationships between these three properties are well documented and can be found in most texts
relatingtothethermodynamicpropertiesofsteam.

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practiceguidetosaving
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andcondensatesystems.
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Fig.15.1.1Steamsaturationdiagram
Superheatedsteamisprincipallyusedinpowergenerationplantsasthedrivingforceforturbines.Areview
of the Rankine gas cycle will demonstrate that, for driving turbines, superheated steam is more thermally
efficientthansaturatedsteam.

Superheatingthesteamhasfurtherimportantadvantages:
Wetsteamwithinaturbinewouldresultinwaterdropletsanderosionoftheturbineblades,aswell
asincreasedfriction.

Higherpipelinevelocities(upto100m/s)canbeused.Thismeansthatsmallerdistribution
pipelinescanbeused(providedthatthepressuredropisnotexcessive).
Forcontinuouslyrunningplants,superheatedsteammeansthereisnocondensationinthe
pipework,therefore,thereisonlyarequirementforsteamtrappingduringstartup.

Theuseofsuperheatedsteamhasanumberofdisadvantages
Althoughsuperheatedsteamcontainsalargeamountofheatenergy,thisenergyisinthreeforms
enthalpyofwater,enthalpyofevaporation(latentheat)andenthalpyofsuperheat.Thebulkofthe
energyisintheenthalpyofevaporation,andtheenergyinthesuperheatrepresentsasmaller
proportion.
Forexample,takesuperheatedsteamat10baraand300C,then:
Enthalpyofwater=763kJ/kg
Enthalpyofevaporation=2015kJ/kg
Enthalpyofsuperheat=274kJ/kg

Fig.15.1.2Enthalpyinsuperheatedsteam
Thecoefficientofheattransferwhenusingsuperheatedsteamastheheatingmediumisvariable,
lowanddifficulttoquantifyaccurately.Thismakesaccuratesizingandcontrolofheattransfer
equipmentdifficult,andwillalsoresultinalargerandmoreexpensiveheatexchanger.
Oncethesuperheatedsteamiscooledtosaturationtemperature,theheattransfercoefficient
increasesdramatically,andthetemperatureatwhichthesteamcondensesbackintowateris
constant.Thisgreatlyassistsaccuratesizingandcontrolofheattransferequipment.
Thepresenceofhighheattransfercoefficientsassociatedwithsaturatedsteamleadstosmallerand
cheaperheatexchangersthanthosewhichutilisesuperheatedsteam.
Someprocesses(forexample,distillationcolumns)performlessefficientlywhensuppliedwith
superheatedsteam.
Thehighertemperaturesofsuperheatedsteammaymeanthathigherrated,andhencemore
expensiveequipmentisrequired.
Thehighertemperatureofsuperheatedsteammaydamagesensitiveequipment.
These disadvantages mean that superheated steam is generally undesirable for thermal process
applications.However,sitesexistwheresuperheatedsteamisraisedforpowergeneration,anditmakes
economicsensetodesuperheatsomeofthissteamfromsomepointinthepowergenerationcycle,andthen
useitforprocessapplications.(MoreinformationonsuperheatedsteamcanbefoundinTutorial2.3).
Sites also exist where large quantities of waste are used as fuel for the boiler. If the quantity of waste is
sufficientlylarge,thensuperheatedsteammaybeproducedforpowergeneration.Examplesofthistypeof
plantcanbefoundinthepapermakingandsugarrefiningindustries.
In plants that have superheated steam available for process use, it makes sense to distribute the
superheated steam to remote points in the plant, as this will ensure that the steam remains dry. This
becomessignificantiftherearelonglengthsofpipeseparatingthepointofgenerationandthepointofuse.

Basicsteamdesuperheating
Desuperheating is the process by which superheated steam is restored to its saturated state, or the
superheattemperatureisreduced.
Most desuperheaters used to restore the saturated state produce discharge temperatures approaching
saturation(typicallytowithin3Cofthesaturationtemperatureasaminimum).

Designsfordischargetemperaturesinexcessof3Cabovesaturationarealsopossibleandoftenused.
Therearebasicallytwobroadtypesofdesuperheater:
IndirectcontacttypeThemediumusedtocoolthesuperheatedsteamdoesnotcomeintodirect
contactwithit.Acoolerliquidorgasmaybeemployedasthecoolingmedium,forexample,the
surroundingair.Examplesofthistypeofdesuperheaterareshellandtubeheatexchangers.Here
thesuperheatedsteamissuppliedtoonesideoftheheatexchangerandacoolermediumis
suppliedtotheotherside.Asthesuperheatedsteampassesthroughtheheatexchanger,heatislost
fromthesteam,andgainedbythecoolingmedium.
Thetemperatureofthedesuperheatedsteamcouldbecontrolledbyeithertheinletsuperheated
steampressureortheflowrateofthecoolingwater.Controlofthesuperheatedsteamflowforthis
purposeisnotnormallypracticalandmostsystemsadjusttheflowofthecoolingmedium.
DirectcontacttypeThemediumusedtocoolthesuperheatedsteamcomesintodirectcontactwith
it.Inmostcases,thecoolingmediumisthesamefluidasthevapourtobedesuperheated,butinthe
liquidstate.Forexample,inthecaseofsteamdesuperheaters,waterisused.Atypicaldirectcontact
desuperheatingstationisshowninFigure15.1.3.
Whenthedesuperheaterisoperational,ameasuredamountofwaterisaddedtothesuperheated
steamviaamixingarrangementwithinthedesuperheater.Asitentersthedesuperheater,the
coolingwaterevaporatesbyabsorbingheatfromthesuperheatedsteam.Consequently,the
temperatureofthesteamisreduced.
Controloftheamountofwatertobeaddedisusuallyachievedbymeasuringthetemperatureofthe
steamdownstreamofthedesuperheater.Thesettemperatureofthedesuperheatedsteamwould
typicallybe3Cabovethatatsaturation.Therefore,insucharrangementstheinletpressureofthe
superheatedsteamshouldbekeptconstant.

Fig.15.1.3Atypicaldirectcontactdesuperheatingstation

Desuperheatingcalculations
Theamountofwateraddedmustbesufficienttocoolthesteamtothedesiredtemperaturetoolittlewater
andthesteamwillnothavebeencooledenough,toomuchandwetsaturatedsteamwillbeproducedwhich
willrequiredryingthroughaseparator.
UsingEquation15.1.1,whichisbasedontheconservationofenergy,thecoolingliquidrequirementcanbe
easilyandquicklydetermined:

Equation15.1.1
Where:
cw

= Massflowrateofcoolingwater(kg/h)

s = Massflowrateofsuperheatedsteam(kg/h)
hs

= Enthalpyatsuperheatcondition(kJ/kg)

hd

= Enthalpyatdesuperheatedcondition(kJ/kg)

hcw = Enthalpyofcoolingwateratinletconnection(kJ/kg)

Example15.1.1
DeterminetherequiredcoolingwaterflowratefortheconditionsinthefollowingTable:

Solution:
The necessary information can be obtained or interpolated from hard copy steam tables the relevant
extractsareshowninTable15.1.1andTable15.1.2.Alternatively,theSpiraxSarcoonlinesteamtablescan
beused.

Table15.1.1ExtractfromsteamtablesSaturatedwaterandsteam

Table15.1.2ExtractfromsteamtablesSuperheatedsteam
TheinformationrequiredtosatisfyEquation15.1.1istherefore:
s

= Massflowrateofsuperheatedsteam=10000kg/h

hs = Enthalpyatsuperheatcondition(Fromsteamtables300Cat10bara)=3052kJ/kg
hcw = Enthalpyofthecoolingliquid=4.2kJ/kgCx150C=630kJ/kg
Determiningtheenthalpyatthedesuperheatedcondition,hd :

From steam tables, the saturation temperature (T s) at 10 bar a is 180C, therefore at the required
desuperheatedcondition,thetemperaturewillbe:
Ts+5C=185C
Interpolatingbetweentheenthalpyofsteamat10baraanditssaturationtemperature,andat10baraand
200C:
Enthalpyat10bara,Ts(saturatedsteamtables)=2778kJ/kg
Enthalpyat10bara,200C(superheatedsteamtables)=2829kJ/kg
Interpolatingforenthalpyat10baraand185C:

Finally,applyingEquation15.1.1:

Equation15.1.1

Notethatthedesuperheatedsteamissuppliedatarateof:
10000+1208kg/h=11208kg/h
Had the requirement been for 10 000 kg / h of the desuperheated steam, the initial superheated steam
flowratecanbedeterminedusingasimpleproportionalmethod:

WhatdoIdonow?
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