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Heat Transfer Engineering


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The Evaluation of a Vent Condenser by the Film and


Equilibrium Methods for Steam/Air Mixtures
a a
Julio C. Sacramento-Rivero & Peter J. Heggs
a
School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science , University of Manchester ,
Manchester, United Kingdom
Published online: 10 Oct 2011.

To cite this article: Julio C. Sacramento-Rivero & Peter J. Heggs (2009) The Evaluation of a Vent Condenser by the Film and
Equilibrium Methods for Steam/Air Mixtures, Heat Transfer Engineering, 30:7, 590-597, DOI: 10.1080/01457630802595066

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01457630802595066

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Heat Transfer Engineering, 30(7):590–597, 2009
Copyright 
C Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0145-7632 print / 1521-0537 online
DOI: 10.1080/01457630802595066

The Evaluation of a Vent Condenser


by the Film and Equilibrium Methods
for Steam/Air Mixtures

JULIO C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO and PETER J. HEGGS


School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
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The current design and performance evaluation methods for vent and reflux condensers include minimum safety factors of
30% or more. These oversized condensers incur high capital and operational costs. Experimental data are fundamental in
order to evaluate these design methodologies. This paper presents a new set of experiments performed in a steam/air vent
condenser at subatmospheric pressures. The experimental apparatus consists of a vertical, double-pipe condenser with a
length of 3 m and inner diameter of 0.028 m. The produced experimental data allow the evaluation of the local heat transfer
coefficients and the heat-flux profile on the coolant side. After comparing the predictions of the two main methods for the
design of vent and reflux condensers, that is, the film method and the equilibrium method as modified by Webb et al. (1996),
it becomes apparent that the film method is always better and should be always preferred when diffusive data are available.
The equilibrium method error in predicting the heat transfer area is shown to be a function of the Lewis number. Further
valuable observations are noted regarding the calculation procedures of the two mentioned methods and the risks of using
the equilibrium method.

INTRODUCTION use approximate methods. The current design and performance-


evaluation methods for vent and reflux condensers include min-
Vent condensers are vertical heat exchanger/separators that imum safety factors of 30% or more [3]. Experimental data are
involve film condensation. A vapor mixture enters the bottom fundamental in order to evaluate these design methodologies.
of the heat exchanger and as it flows upwards condensation In this paper, we present a novel experimental data set of
occurs on the cold heat transfer surface. The condensate film steam/air vent condensation. The data are compared with the
falls under gravity down the surface and exits from the bottom design predictions of the film and equilibrium methods in order
of the condenser. The coolant flows on the other side of the to assess their accuracy. Even though the experiments deal with
heat transfer surface in a counter-current direction to the rising a somehow simple binary mixture (steam/air), the conclusions
vapor. Vent condensers are often used to eliminate as much of this work may be extended to more complex systems using
vapor content as possible from wet-air streams, such as those the experience of the design engineer. Also, the way this paper
found in stirred-tank reactors or in the vent-cooling section of is structured allows the reader to get a good idea of the strengths
air-cooled steam condensers. and weaknesses of each design methodology. Special attention
Although studies on reflux condensation have been carried is given to a correction factor proposed by Webb et al. [4] for
out by many workers [1, 2], it is fair to say that the control- the equilibrium method. We present a quantitative comparison
ling mechanisms of heat, mass, and momentum transfer have between the predictions by the equilibrium method using the
not been fully elucidated. Additionally, the fundamental mech- correction factor and those by the film method. Finally, we pro-
anisms of the two-phase flow are not well understood. In con- vide qualitative recommendations on the use of the equilibrium
sequence, many designers of vertical condensers continue to method.
A brief note must be made regarding flooding, another major
source of uncertainty in the design of reflux/vent condensers.
Address correspondence to Mr. Julio Sacramento, School of Chemical
Engineering and Analytical Science, The University of Manchester, PO 88,
The flooding velocity is the vapor velocity that causes some of
Sackville Street, Manchester M60 1QD, United Kingdom. E-mail: juliosacra- the condensate to flow beyond the point where the condensate
mento@gmail.com film starts to form. For the design methodologies presented in
590
J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS 591

this paper to work, the vapor velocity must always be less than where the first term is Fick’s law for molar diffusive flux of com-
the flooding velocity. The estimation of the flooding velocity ponent 1 in the y direction with C being the concentration and
is subject to yet greater uncertainties than the design methods D12 the binary diffusivity, and the second term is the convective
themselves and is therefore subject of major interest. The role molar flux where ỹ1 is the molar fraction. The integration across
of the flooding phenomena in the design of vent condensers will the mass transfer film for a binary mixture yields:
be addressed in a future paper. φ
ṅ1 = β12 (ỹg − ỹδ ) + ỹg ṅ (2)
eφ − 1

CURRENT DESIGN METHODOLOGIES with φ = βṅ and β12 = CD δM


12
.
12
The binary mass transfer coefficient β12 is normally de-
The Colburn or Film Method termined using the Chilton–Colburn analogy. For the case of
gas/vapor condensation, ṅ1 = ṅ.
It is widely accepted in the literature that the film model gives The condensation process cannot be described solely by mass
good agreement with experimental data for vertical condensa- transfer equations and thus a heat transfer balance analogous to
tion of binary mixtures [4, 5]. This model was first introduced Eq. (1) is needed to give the heat flux at the interface as follows:
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by Colburn and Drew [6] for the condensation of vapor mixtures dT


and involves the solution of the heat and mass transfer equations. q̇δ = −λg + ṅc̃pg
fa
(T − Tδ ) (3)
dy
It assumes that the resistances to heat and mass transfer on the
gas and coolant phases take place in a one-dimensional film that Integration across the heat transfer film gives:
forms adjacent to each boundary, that is, a gas film adjacent to q̇δ = q̇g + q̇conv = αg ξT (Tg − Tδ ) + αg ε(Tg − Tδ ) (4)
the gas/condensate interface and a coolant film adjacent to the
fa
wall, respectively (see Figure 1). Note that a distinction is made ṅc̃pg λ
with ε = αg and αg = δTg . Also, q̇g is the conductive heat
in the thicknesses of the heat transfer film (δT ) and the mass
flux across the gas film and q̇conv is the convective heat flux of
transfer film (δM ). An indicator of their relative size is given
the condensable species approaching the interface. In Eq. (4),
by the Lewis number, Le = Sc/Pr. A mass transfer balance at
the Ackermann factor ξT is defined as ξT = ε/[exp(ε) – 1] and
the condensation interface solved for the flux of condensation
appears due to the presence of phase convection, making the
of component 1, ṅ1 , in a binary mixture gives:
conductive term inversely proportional to the condensation rate.
d ỹ1 The heat conservation at the gas/condensate interface com-
ṅ1 = −CD 12 + ỹ1 ṅ (1) pletes the system of equations. If we neglect the subcooling
dy
of condensate, particularly valid for countercurrent vent con-
densers, the heat conservation at the interface is given by:
fa
q̇c = q̇δ + ṅh̃fg = Ucδ (Tc − Tδ ) (5)
where Ucδ is an overall HTC based on the outer diameter and
includes the resistances of the condensate film, wall, fouling on
both sides of the wall and the coolant film.

The Silver or Equilibrium Method

Originally proposed by Silver [7] and later modified by Bell


and Ghaly [8], the equilibrium or Silver method is a simpli-
fied method that makes the following assumptions: (1) At any
point x along the condenser, vapor and condensate phases are
in equilibrium, (2) the subcooling of condensate is minimised
in counter-current flow of vapor and condensate film, and thus
the sensible heat in the condensate phase is negligible, and (3)
the mass transfer resistance in the vapor phase is proportional
to the sensible-heat resistance in the same phase and is taken
at the necessary value to maintain saturation conditions on the
vapor phase. Thus, no mass diffusion properties are required for
calculations.
The method relies on the construction of a cooling curve
Figure 1 The film theory model. that must describe adequately the type of condenser in question.
heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009
592 J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS

This is equivalent to a condenser where the condensate formed


at every stage is withdrawn as it is formed. Thus, the differential
cooling curve adjusts better to horizontal condensers where the
condensate gathers at the bottom of the unit and also to vertical
in-tube condensers with a low-flow, laminar condensate film.
The latter can be visualized as various layers of laminar falling
film where new condensate “buries” the condensate formed in
previous stages.
From this discussion it can be seen that, at least theoretically,
neither the integral nor the differential cooling curve fully de-
scribes vertical condensation in a counter-current arrangement.
Even though the true condensation path will be somewhere in
between these two cooling curves, experience has shown that the
integral curve describes better the countercurrent arrangement.
The equilibrium method is a stepwise calculation. The total
duty estimated from the cooling curve must be divided into
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several intervals, for which limits of local temperatures of both


Figure 2 Integral and differential condensation. coolant and vapor must be known.

There are mainly two types of cooling curves, describing two


dissimilar condensation processes: integral and differential con-
Comparing the Design Methods
densation.
The equilibrium method is the most widely used method to
The Integral Cooling Curve design vent/reflux condensers, perhaps because of its simplicity
and because it does not require mass transfer transport prop-
The integral condensation assumes that vapor and condensate erties. On the other hand, the film model has provided good
remain in equilibrium throughout the entire process. Figure 2 predictions of experimental data for many years. Nevertheless,
is a T –xy diagram for the steam/air system. The points A and there is some reluctance to use it in industrial design since the
B represent respectively a superheated and a saturated mixture simpler equilibrium method has been considered to be good
of initial composition y1 . The vertical line ABC corresponds enough and avoids the tedious calculations implicit in the film
to a single-separation stage, and a point on the cooling curve. method. Moreover, for some mixtures there is simply not enough
The temperature Tl is the temperature of the final condensate. data available to use the film method.
The integral cooling curve is the collection of all the possible Regardless of the popularity of the equilibrium method, its
lines ABC, corresponding to single separations, resulting from reliability is not guaranteed for all cases and the error incurred
moving point C vertically within a specified temperature range. can be on the unsafe side for a range of applications, i.e., under-
Notice that every ABC line is independent of previous lines and estimating the heat transfer area. Webb et al. [4] conclude that
the enthalpy of each point depends only on thermodynamic data the reliability of the equilibrium method depends on the Lewis
of the resulting vapor/liquid after that single-separation process. number. The classic interpretation assumes that when Le = 1,
The integral cooling curve describes better co-current flow that is, when the thickness of both mass and heat films are equal,
condensers where the condensate is completely mixed, so that both methods should be in good agreement. However, Webb
the composition is the same along the whole condenser. Webb et al. suggest that when Le = 1, the Silver method is unsafe, i.e.,
[9] states that the integral curve should describe reasonably ver- underpredicts the condensation area, with errors up to 50%, and
tical, in-tube or baffled shell condensers with good condensate good agreement is found typically in the range 0.6 < Le < 0.8.
mixture promoted by turbulence. As the value of the Le number becomes larger, the predictions
of the equilibrium method become increasingly unsafe.
The Differential Cooling Curve Other factors that lead to significant errors are a large tem-
perature driving force, high condensation rates, and a nar-
The differential condensation is a stage-wise process, where row condensation range, such as those encountered in partial
the vapor mixture entering any given stage is that remaining condensers.
from the previous stage; see point D in Figure 2. For the same For both methods, the overall heat transfer coefficient based
example explained earlier, only this time considering a four- on the outer diameter Uo can be derived from Eqs. (4) and (5),
stage differential condensation, if a condensate of composition giving:
y2 is targeted, the duty required for the differential condensation
will be higher due to the formation of higher temperature con- 1 1 Zi Do
= + (6)
densate in the previous stages: points E, F, and G in Figure 2. Uo Ucδ αg ξT Din
heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009
J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS 593

where Zi is defined as the ratio of the gas side to total heat


fluxes, and the subscript i = f , e denotes whether the factor
corresponds to the film or to the equilibrium method, respec-
tively. For the film method, the expression for Zf is:
q̇g
Zf = . (7)
q̇c
In the Silver method, the factor Ze is defined at each interval j
as the local ratio of the sensible heat of the vapor phase to the
total heat duty Q̇ as given by the cooling curve, as follows:
 
(Ṁcp )g Tg
Ze,j = (8)
Q̇ j

where j refers to every interval in the cooling curve and (Ṁcp )g


is the mass-flow heat capacity of the vapor phase.
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Webb et al. [4] propose a correction factor to approximate Ze


to the corresponding value of the film method Zf , accounting
for the effect of the Lewis number, as follows:
  
Tg − Tδ ξT 2/3 dTg sat
Zf = Ze Le (9)
ỹg − ỹδ ξM d ỹg
where ξM is the rate factor, defined by the fraction on the right-
hand side of Eq. (2).

THE EXPERIMENTAL SYSTEM

A simplified process and instrumentation diagram (P&ID)


of the experimental facility in the Morton Laboratory at the
University of Manchester is detailed in Figure 3. The air/steam Figure 3 Simplified P&ID of the experimental rig.
mixture is generated inside a boiler tank, heated by means of a
mineral oil, which in turn is heated by electric heaters. Fresh dry Temperature measurements of the coolant are available at the
air is fed directly into the boiler’s vapor space. The steam flow annulus inlet and outlet. In addition, temperature measurements
generated is manipulated by changing the heat input from the of the coolant and the tube wall are taken at six equally spaced
electric heaters, and the composition of the resulting steam/air points along the length of the test tube. The wall thermocouples
mixture is calculated by measuring the pressure at the bottom of are welded to the inner tube and the measured temperature is as-
the condenser. The flow of fresh air is also measured to double- sumed to be constant along its thickness, due to the high thermal
check the calculated composition. The test condenser consists conductivity of copper. The pressure at the top of the condenser
of a 3 m long vertical copper tube with an internal diameter of (vapor outlet) can be kept constant during the experiments by
0.028 m. The annulus is a stainless-steel jacket with an internal means of a vacuum pump, which ensures a continuous flow
diameter of 0.063 m and is designed to allow the cooling water of air through the system. Other manipulated variables are the
to enter in three different locations, so the working length of flow and the inlet temperature of the coolant and the flow of the
condensation can be adjusted to 1 m, 2 m, or 3 m (see Figure 3). supplied vapor, with the latter controlled by adjusting the boiler
Cooling water flows in the annulus countercurrent to the vapor, heat load until a constant partial pressure of steam is attained in
but co-current to the falling condensate film. Some of the coolant the vapor space within the boiler.
is recirculated and its inlet temperature is controlled by a fresh-
water makeup stream. Before the vapor mixture hits the test
tube, it enters into an inlet pot that distributes the vapor evenly THE QUALITY OF THE EXPERIMENTAL DATA
over the tube surface. The test tube is tapered at the bottom end
with a 30◦ angle. This should allow an increase of 5% in the All the temperature measurements are made with T-type ther-
vapor velocity before the system floods, compared to the same mocouples with a calibrated uncertainty of ± 0.15◦ C. The abso-
tube without a taper [3]. The vapor that does not condense in lute pressures are measured using pressure transducers with an
the test section is knocked out in an oversized after-condenser. accuracy of ± 0.004 bar. The pressure drop across the condenser
heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009
594 J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS

Table 1 Range of experimental conditions

Parameter Minimum Maximum

Operating pressure [bar] 0.17 0.40


Vapor flow [kg/h] 2.80 7.14
Condensate flow [kg/h] 1.62 3.54
Inlet steam mass fraction 0.71 0.99
Heat load (test section) [kW] 1.06 2.34
Vapor inlet temperature [◦ C] 55.5 70.2
Coolant inlet temperature [◦ C] 43.7 61.3
Lewis number 0.58 0.67

wall. Although in practice a small pressure drop was realized


across the condenser, this was assumed negligible for simulation
Figure 4 Comparison of experimental heat loads. purposes.
For the equilibrium method, both integral and differential
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is measured by a differential pressure cell with an uncertainty of cooling curves were compared. As expected, the differential
± 0.26 inches H2 O (0.0006 bar). However, the variations in the curve consistently predicted larger HTAs than the integral curve,
pressure drop are similar to the accuracy of the pressure trans- but for reasons of space these results are not included here.
ducers because of the variations in the outlet pressure, which The film method requires a stepwise solution of the following
are in turn fixed by the vacuum pump. The flows of condensate set of design differential equations:
from both condensers and the flow of the makeup stream are
measured by direct collection of the condensate for a known (continuity in gas and liquid phases respectively)
volume and time. The coolant flow on the test condenser and
the flow of the dry-air feed into the boiling tank are measured d Ṅg d Ṅl
by rotameters, with an average accuracy of 2.2% and 2.7%, re- × = −ṅ and = −ṅ (10)
dA dA
spectively. The uncertainty on the calculated composition of the
steam/air mixture entering the test condenser is around ± 6%. (energy balance for counter-current coolant)
The energy balances for each experimental run have been
validated by the comparison of the heat load on the boiler and dTc Tδ − Tc
the total condensation duty (see Figure 4). The working con- × = −Ucδ (11)
dA (Ṁcp )c
densation length is inferred from the temperature profiles; i.e.,
the temperature profiles on the wall and on the coolant must (energy balance for vapor mixture cooling)
present a clear increasing trend from the top of the condensing
surface. The maximum propagated uncertainty associated with dTg Tg − Tδ
the energy balances was in the order of ±9% on the annulus × = −αg ξT (12)
dA (Ṅ c̃p )g
side. The agreement of the experiments with the energy balance
was better than 10% for 87% of the experimental runs and better With Eq. (12), the gas/vapor temperature is allowed to depart
than 15% for 96% of the experiments, as illustrated in Figure 4. from saturation conditions. For more details about the ratio-
It was considered that the process had reached a steady state nale of the standard design equations just shown, the reader is
when the temperature profiles on the coolant and process side of referred to HEDH [9]. The preceding equations were solved
the condenser and also the temperature on the boiler presented with the Euler forward-difference method as follows: The outlet
random variations no larger than ± 0.15◦ C. temperature of the coolant is assumed in order to have an initial
value problem and convergence is tested against the known

THE CALCULATION ALGORITHMS


Table 2 Average deviation from the convergent HTA by using
different numbers of intervals for splitting the integral cooling curve
Two procedures were programmed in Visual Basic .NET, one
for each design method, in order to compare the experimental Number of intervals
Steam/air
results with the predicted values. The experimental data fed to mass fraction 5 10 20 50 70 ∞
the design algorithms were: the vapor, condensate and coolant
flows, the temperatures of the inlet vapor and inlet coolant, 1.0–0.9 2.7% 0.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
the operating pressure, and the composition of the inlet vapor. 0.9–0.8 23.4% 16.3% 7.3% 0.6% 0.0% 0.0%
0.8–0.7 18.6% 13.2% 9.3% 3.5% 1.8% 0.0%
The simulations predicted the heat transfer area (HTA), the Average 14.9% 10.0% 5.5% 1.4% 0.6% 0.0%
condensing duty, and temperature profiles of the coolant and the
heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009
J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS 595

Figure 5 Temperature profiles and process conditions for experimental runs (a) using low air concentration and (b) using high air concentration.
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coolant inlet temperature. Also, the following boundary condi- fraction (ysteam = 0.78), respectively. The operation conditions
tions were considered: are also included in the figures. The HTA is given by the length
  of the temperature profiles, and it can be observed in both fig-
Ṅl A=0 = 0 and Ṅl A=AT = Ṅlout ures that the Silver method overestimates it and the film method
   slightly underestimates it. Let us examine Figure 5a first. At
Tg A=AT = Tgin = T sat ygin , P in low vapor flows of steam, as in these experiments, the mixture
is expected to remain close to saturation. The film method pre-
Tc |A=0 = Tcin (13) dicts vapor temperatures close to saturation and thus the good
agreement with the Silver method predictions. Also, the wall
ESDU [3] presents a comprehensive comparison of corre- temperature remains close to the vapor temperature and is al-
lations and experimental data for the calculation of the HTC most constant throughout the condensing path. Consequently,
for the gas phase and the condensate film for reflux and vent the condensing temperature difference tends to decrease rapidly
condensation. We followed their recommendations and used the as the coolant flows downward.
Petukov equation and the Nusselt model to calculate the HTC on On the other hand, in Figure 5b, all three temperature profiles
the gas side and the condensate film, respectively. The coolant follow a more parallel path and the change in the temperature
HTC was calculated using the correlation by Dirker and Meyer difference will highly depend on the relative flows of both the
[10] for annular flow. coolant and the gaseous phases. Also, the predictions of the
vapor temperature by the two methods do not match as well as
for purer air due to the departure from equilibrium; i.e., the air
tends to gather close to the condensing interface and will remain
DISCUSSION OF RESULTS slightly cooler than the bulk steam/air mixture, which will be
saturated. This layer of colder air also acts as an additional mass
The experimental conditions used for this analysis are within transfer resistance, reducing the condensation rate compared to
the ranges listed in Table 1. ESDU [3] recommend splitting pure-steam condensation. This is explained as a required steam
the cooling curve into five intervals when using the equilibrium
method. This assumes that the cooling curve is linear within
each interval. When programming the method it is usual to split
the cooling curve in intervals of equal size. This approach re-
quires splitting the curve in more intervals in order to avoid
underprediction of the HTA caused by nonlinearity of the cool-
ing curve, especially toward the top of the condenser. Table 2 is
a summary of the average deviations from the convergent HTA,
that is, the value of area calculated by splitting the cooling curve
in an infinite number of intervals. For small air fractions, the rec-
ommendation by ESDU is safe, but more and more intervals are
required as the air fraction of the inlet vapor increases.
Figure 5a and Figure 5b are plots of the experimental and sim-
ulated temperature profiles for representative runs condensing
virtually pure steam (ysteam = 0.98) and steam with a higher air Figure 6 Predicted condensation heat loads.

heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009


596 J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS

design factors of 30% normally recommended for this type


of condenser [1]. Thus, an overdesign must not always be
considered a good practice.
2. The degree of overdesign that should be expected using the
Silver method is a function of the Lewis number. This can be
as high as 40% and decreases as Le approaches to 0.68. There
is evidence [2] that for higher Lewis numbers, the Silver
method can even underestimate the HTA, which makes the
problem worse as this surely leads to flooding.
3. When programming the equilibrium method, the shape of
the cooling curve determines the number of intervals to be
used. For steam/air mixtures it is safe to use 70 even inter-
vals to ensure an average deviation of 1.8% from the con-
Figure 7 Predicted heat transfer areas. vergent HTA. For steam mass fractions of 0.9 or higher,
using 10 even intervals is enough to get an average error of
0.6%.
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diffusion through the stagnant air to reach the condensation


interface and, ultimately, condense. 4. The assumptions of saturated vapor and negligible pressure
The duty of the vent condenser was predicted to within 10% drop across the condenser are valid for the studied process
by the Silver method and within 2–3% by the film method for conditions.
all the experimental runs (see Figure 6). The Silver method 5. Using the Webb correction factor requires diffusivity data,
underpredicts the overall HTC, relative to the film method. This which rules out one of the advantages of the Silver method.
leads to a relative overprediction of the HTA. This behavior is The only reason for not using the film method in such a case
accentuated at lower values of Le, below 0.6 (see Figure 7). is the difficulty of programming the film method. However,
Similar findings have been reported by Webb et al. [4]. if a serious estimation of the HTA is to be made, it is highly
All the results involving the Silver method include the Webb recommended to use the film model, even for simple systems
correction factor, that is, the large factor on the right-hand side of like steam/air.
Eq. (9). Although this factor causes the predictions of the Silver
method to be closer to those of the film method, differences of
up to 40% can still be seen in the predicted values of the HTA,
NOMENCLATURE
as can be seen in Figure 7.
A heat transfer area, m2
C concentration, kmol/m3
CONCLUSIONS cp heat capacity at constant pressure, kJ/kg K
c̃p molar heat capacity at constant pressure, kJ/kmol K
From the discussions of this paper, it becomes apparent that D12 binary diffusivity, m2 /s
the design of reflux/vent condensers is an area where much h̃fg molar latent heat of vaporization, kJ/kmol
improvement can still be made. The excellent predictions of Le Lewis number, Sc/Pr
the film method for the value of the HTA are subject to the Ṁ mass flow rate, kg/s
availability of accurate physical properties of the condensing Ṅ molar flow rate, kmol/s
mixtures. When these are not available, the Silver method can ṅ molar flux, kmol/m2 s
provide a good design estimate. However, some design safety Pr Prandtl number, cp µ/λ
factor has to be incorporated to accommodate for the differences Q̇ heat load, kW
between predicted and experimental data. This is where the q̇ heat flux, kW/m2
judgment of the heat transfer engineer comes to play. To help Sc Schmidt number, µ/ρD12
make this judgment less subjective, we present the following T temperature, K
conclusions: U overall heat transfer coefficient
x Cartesian coordinate, along the heat transfer surface,
1. The apparent success of the Silver method in industrial design m
of air/steam vertical condensers operating under vacuum is x̃ molar fraction of liquid
due to a recurrent overdesign of the units (see Figure 7). This y cartesian coordinate, normal to the heat transfer sur-
is fine for knock-out condensers. However, for partial con- face, m mass fraction of vapor
densers, an overdesigned unit will achieve a higher separation y mass fraction of vapor
and this additional condensate would most probably lead to ỹ molar fraction of vapor
flooding. This situation gets worse after applying the safety Z ratio of gas-side to total heat fluxes

heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009


J. C. SACRAMENTO-RIVERO AND P. J. HEGGS 597

Greek Symbols [2] Girard, R., and Chang, J. S., Reflux Condensation Phenomena in
Single Vertical Tubes, International Journal of Heat Mass Trans-
α heat transfer coefficient, kW/m2 K fer, vol. 35, pp. 2203–2218, 1992.
β12 binary mass transfer coefficient, kmol/m2 s [3] ESDU Data Item 89038, Reflux Condensation in Vertical Tubes,
Engineering Sciences Data Unit, 1998. Available online at: http://
δ thickness of boundary layer
www.esdu.com/egi-bin/ps.pl?sess=unlicensed 1081218204908jlf
ε ratio of convective to conductive heat transfer
&t=di&p=89038
φ ratio of condensing flux to mass transfer coefficient [4] Webb, D. R., Fahrner, M., and Schwaab, R., The Relationship
λ thermal conductivity, kW/m K Between the Colburn and Silver Methods of Condenser Design,
ξT Ackermann factor International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, vol. 39, pp.
ξM rate factor 3147–3156, 1996.
[5] Al-Shammari, S. B., Liquid Mixing in Reflux Condensation,
Ph.D. thesis, UMIST, Manchester, UK, 2001.
Subscripts [6] Colburn, A. P., and Drew, T. B., The Condensation of Mixed
Vapours, Transactions of the AIChE, vol. 33, pp. 197–215,
c coolant 1937.
conv convection [7] Silver, L., Gas Cooling With Aqueous Condensation, Transac-
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e equilibrium method tions of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, vol. 25, pp. 30–42,
in inner 1947.
[8] Bell, K. J., and Ghaly, M. A., An Approximate Generalized Design
f film method
Method for Multicomponent Partial Condensers, AIChE Sympo-
g gas phase sium Series, vol. 69, pp. 72–79, 1972.
k arbitrary component [9] Webb, D. R., Condensation of Vapour Mixtures, in Heat Exchang-
M mass transfer film ers Design Handbook, ed. G. Hewitt, Begell House, Reading, CT,
o outer pp. 2.6.3-1–2.6.3-25, 1998.
T thermal film [10] Dirker, J., and Meyer, J. P., Heat Transfer Coefficients in Concen-
w wall tric Annuli, Technical Notes, Transactions of the ASME, Journal
δ condensate-film thickness of Heat Transfer, vol. 124, pp. 1200–1203, 2002.

Julio Sacramento is a Ph.D. student in the School of


Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, The
Superscripts
University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He is a
chemical engineer and graduated from the University
fa flux averaged of Yucatan, Mexico in 2004. His current research fo-
sat saturation cuses on the analysis of design methodologies of vent
and reflux condensers by direct comparison between
experimental and simulation data.
Abbreviations
Peter Heggs is Professor of Chemical Engineering
HEDH Heat Exchangers Design Handbook at The University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
ESDU Engineering Sciences Data Unit He is a former Head of Department at UMIST and
was the Chairman of the CEMIST Steering Com-
HTA heat transfer area
mittee and principal investigator of the CEMIST JIF
HTC heat transfer coefficient grant worth £6.5M. His research interests include
P&ID process and instrumentation diagram the design, control, and operability of process equip-
ment and plants. He is the researcher responsible for
the commercial-scale heat transfer equipment in the
Morton Laboratory (pilot plant at UMIST)—thermo-
REFERENCES
siphon reboiler, horizontal condensers, and reflux condensers. He is currently
the Chairman of the Heat Transfer Steering Panel of ESDU International, a
[1] Jibb, R. J., and Drogemuller, P., Design and Application of Reflux member of the UK Heat Transfer Committee, and is a past President of the UK
Condensers for Separating Vapour Mixtures, Proceedings of the Heat Transfer Society. He has supervised 52 master’s students and 50 Ph.D.
3rd International Conference on Process Intensification, pp. 191– students, published approximately 230 research papers, and contributed to 34
206, 1999. books or parts of books.

heat transfer engineering vol. 30 no. 7 2009