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Article in Desalination · September 2001
DOI: 10.1016/S00119164(01)003290
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Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
Soteris A. Kalogirou
Higher Technical Institute, PO Box 20423, Nicosia 2152, Cyprus Tel. +357 (2) 306266; Fax +357 (2) 494953; email: skalogir@spidernet.com.cy
Received 31 January 2001; accepted 14 February 2001
Abstract
The objective of this work is to design a lowcost evaporator. The new type of evaporator suggested here is of the spraytype, i.e., spaying the seawater into fine droplets to evaporate the water. The cost of this type of evaporator is comparatively low because no heat exchangers are required. The evaporator is designed based on the theory of cooling towers. The system is modeled and optimized using heat and mass transfer relations. With proper design the spraymode of evaporation is superior to both pool boiling and thinfilm evaporation. It is shown that the rate of evaporation is mainly influenced from the droplet size and temperature, i.e., the evaporation is enhanced by having smalldiameter and high temperature water droplets. A limitation of the suggested system is that either good filtration equipment needs to be used or the droplet size could not be low enough. Also it is desirable not to operate the systems with temperatures higher than 70°C, a temperature that can easily be obtained with comparatively cheap flatplate solar collectors. Typical expected results are presented which prove the viability of the proposed system. The complete system consisting of the evaporator, a solar collector 1 m ^{2} in area and pumps is modeled with TRNSYS. Such a system gives 11.2 m ^{3} /y of fresh water.
Keywords: Spray evaporator; Design; Modeling; TRNSYS program
1. Introduction
Many parts of the earth are suffering from water shortage problems. When the technical and economic conditions are favorable, governments often resort to desalination. The cost of water produced from desalination systems depends on the initial expenditure required and the running cost of the systems. The initial cost is very
important because it needs to be available right from the beginning of the project. If no money is available, governments often turn to external funding in the form of lowinterest loans. Also, countries like Cyprus, which depend entirely on imports for their energy needs, should as much as possible utilize renewable energy sources which are also nonpolluting.
Presented at the European Conference on Desalination and the Environment: Water Shortage. Lemesos, Cyprus, 28–31 May 2001.
00119164/01/$– See front matter © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved
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The objective of this work is to design a low cost evaporator that would use the lowest possible heat transfer areas. The heat exchangers in the boiling section of the evaporators are usually manufactured from corrosionresistant alloys and metals such as coppernickel, stainless steel or titanium, and constitute one of the major cost items of thermal evaporation systems. The new type of evaporator suggested here is of the spraytype, i.e., spaying the seawater into fine droplets to evaporate the water. Spraying has been used in other types of evaporators such as the multipleeffect stack type. In that case, however, the water spray was mainly used to create a thin film of water on the evaporator tubes, thus enhancing the evaporation, and therefore the size of water droplets was not very small. The proposed system has a very small number of heat exchangers, employed mainly on the condensation side. These heat exchangers are usually made from carbon steel pipes, as they are not exposed to the highly corrosive seawater/ acid–agent mixture. The cost of this type of evaporator is therefore comparatively low.
2. Spray evaporator design
A schematic diagram of the evaporator is shown in Fig. 1. As seen, the seawater passes first through the condenser tube where water evaporated in the evaporation section of the unit is condensed, at the same time preheating the seawater. Subsequently, the seawater is directed either to a heater or to a solar collector made from plastic tubing so as to avoid clocking; then it is directed to a set of nozzles where it is sprayed. The water remaining at the bottom of the evaporator section is directed to the collector where it is further heater and redirected to the nozzles. A model unit constructed as part of this project was made from Perspex so as to be able to visually check the various effects taking place within the evaporator. The design of the evaporator is based on the cooling tower theory developed by Baker and Shryock [1]. There is, however, one difference:
the main function of cooling towers is to cool the water whereas the main function of the
Fig. 1. Schematic of the spraytype evaporator.
S.A. Kalogirou / Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
347
evaporator is to evaporate as much water as possible. Fig. 2 shows schematically one water droplet and the processes of heat and mass interactions that occur. The bulk water is at temperature t surrounded by the bulk of air at dry bulb temperature t _{a} having enthalpy h _{a} and humidity ratio W _{a} . The interface is assumed to be a film of saturated air with an intermediate temperature t≤, enthalpy h≤ and humidity rati o W≤. Assuming a c onstant value of specific heat of water c _{p} , the total energy transfer from the water to the interface is:
(3)
The humidity ratio W can be obtained from [2]:

(4) 
where P _{w}_{s} is the saturation pressure given by 

Ln (P _{w}_{s} ) = 6096.938 (1/t) + 21.240964 2.71119×10 ^{} ^{2} t + 1.67395×10 ^{} ^{5} t ^{2} + 
(5) 
2.43350 Ln(t)
or
The heat transfer from interface to air is:
The heat transfer due to evaporation from film to air is:
(6)
The diffusion of water vapor from film to air is:
Fig. 2 Heat and mass transfer representation of a water bulb into air.
As can be seen in the above relations, the rate of energy or mass transfer is directly proportional to , i.e., the area of interface. Therefore, enhanced evaporation can be achieved with droplets of small diameter. The process will reach equilibrium when t _{a} = t and the air becomes saturated with moisture at that temperature. Under adiabatic conditions, equilibrium is reached at the temperature of adiabatic saturation or at the thermodynamic wet bulb temperature of the air. This is the lowest attainable temperature in the evaporator. The circulating water rapidly approaches this temperature when a low temperature of the spray water exists and vice versa. The process is the same when the spray water is at elevated temp erature, but the air enthalpy increases as it moves through the evaporator so the equilibrium temp erature increases progressively.
348 S.A. Kalogirou / Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
The Lewis relationship can be assumed to be equal to one in combining the transfer of mass and sensible heat into an overall coefficient based on enthalpy difference as the driving force, i.e.
(7)
where c _{p}_{m} is the humid specific heat of moist air on a dry air basis (J/kg K). Eq. (7) also explains why the wetbulb thermometer closely approaches the temperature of adiabatic saturation in an air–water vapor mixture. Setting water heat loss equal to air heat gain yields:
or
(8)
This equation considers the heat transfer from the interface to the air stream, but the interfacial conditions are intermediate. If the film resistance
is neglected and the ove r a l l coefficient K
is
postulated, based on the driving force of enthalpy h at the bulk water temper a t ure t, Eq. (8) becomes:
Fig. 3. Program SPRAY flow chart. Note: Numbers in parentheses refer to the respective equation numbers.
or
^{(}^{1}^{1}^{)}
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349
Fig. 4. Quantity of water evaporated against the bubble size or area of interface for various seawater temperatures.
It should be noted that the integrated value of Eq. (10) can also be referred as the number of transfer units (NTU) of the evaporator. This value gives the number of times the average enthalpy potential (h h _{a} ) goes into the tempera ture change of water ( T ) and is a measure of the difficulty of the task. Thus, one transfer unit has the definition of c _{p} T / (h h _{a} ) _{a}_{v}_{g} = 1. The above equations are not selfsufficient and are not subject to direct mathematical solu tion. They reflect mass and energy balance at any point in a tower and are independent of relative motion of the two fluid steams. Mechanical integration is required to apply the equations, and the procedure must account for relative motion. The integration of Eq. (10) gives the NTU for a given set of conditions. As the water is sprayed from the top of the evaporator and the opening of the air towards the condenser is at the top, as depicted in Fig. 1, a counterflow condition is encountered. The relationships giving mass exchange coefficient (K ) and the heat e xc hange coeffi cients (K _{w} , K _{a} ) as a function of the air flow rate (m _{a} ) and water flow rate (m _{w} ) are [4]:
and
(12)
As is already shown, the air–film heat transfer coefficient and the mass transfer coefficient on the air–water interface are coupled by the Lewis relation (see Eq. 7). For the estimation of the rate of the hourly water evaporated, a computer program, SPRAY, was used. It is written in BASIC computer language and employs the above relations for the necessary calculations. The flow chart of the program is shown in Fig. 3. By running the program for a range of values of inlet seawater temperature and the area of interface, the graph shown in Fig. 4 was con structed. As can be seen, the amount of water evaporated per hour increases with increasing inlet temperature and with decreasing bubble diameter, i.e., increasing the area of interface. It is thus desirable to keep the inlet temperature as high as possible and the bubble diameter as small as possible. The inlet temperature is limited by the type of scale inhibitor employed, and the
bubble size is limited by the possible operational
problems of nozzles when very small droplets are
produced, unless a very good filtration system is
350 S.A. Kalogirou / Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
employed. Additionally it is desirable that the inlet temperature is kept low so as to be able to use lowcost solar collectors to supply the required heat energy. Therefore, a compromise between the two needs to be made. The second constraint needs to be decided after experiment ing with the unit for a considerable time, and actual size can be decided by the frequency of maintenance required.
3. System model
The performance of the complete unit shown in Fig. 1, without the recirculation pump, is performed with the TRNSYS simulation program and the typical meteorological year (TMY) data for Cyprus developed by Petrakis et al. [5]. TRNSYS is an acronym for a “transient simulation program” and is a quasisteady simulation model. This program was developed at the University of Wisconsin by members of the Solar Energy Laboratory [6]. It is written in ANSII standard Fortran77. The program consists of many subroutines that model subsystem
components. The mathematical models for the subsystem components are given in terms of their ordinary differential or algebraic equations. With a program such as TRNSYS which has the capability of interconnecting system compo nents in any desired manner, solving differential equations and facilitating information output, the entire problem of system simulation is reduced to a problem of identifying all the components that comprise the particular system and formulating a general mathematical description of each. Once all of the components of the system have been identified and a mathematical description of each component is available, it is necessary to construct an information flow diagram for the system. The purpose of the information flow diagram is to facilitate identification of the components and the flow of information between them. Each component is represented as a box, which requires a number of constant PARA METERS and timedependent INPUTS and produces timedependent OUTPUTS. An infor mation flow diagram shows the manner in which all system components are interconnected. A given OUTPUT may be used as an INPUT to any
Fig. 5. Information flow diagram for the solar desalination system.
S.A. Kalogirou / Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
351
number of other components. A simplified information flow diagram for the system under investigation is shown in Fig. 5. From the flow diagram shown in Fig. 5, a deck file has to be constructed containing infor mation on all the system components, weather data file, and the format the output is given. The quantity of mass evaporated in the unit, operated with an value of 0.5 m ^{2} /m ^{3} (0.01 mm droplet size), as obtained from program SPRAY is given by:
M = 3.4×10 ^{} ^{6} *T ^{2} 0.0002527*T + 0.0055 (13)
where T is the seawater temperature entering the unit (=collector outlet temperature). This equation was inserted into a TRNSYS deck file to predict the mass of water evaporated each second from the unit. The rest of the units required, shown in Fig. 5, are standard TRNSYS components. The performance equation for the solar collector considered is given by:
n = 0.7 8.6 ( T/G _{t} )
(14)
The collector is 1 m ^{2} in area, made from lowcost plastic UPVC tubing. The results from the TRNSYS program give a total production from the unit equal to 11.2 m ^{3} /y. This is considered as a good figure, much better than the best enhanced solar still. The maximum collector outlet temperature is about 70°C and the maximum production of the unit at that condition is about 15.8 l/h.
4. Conclusions
The objective of this work is to design a low cost spraytype evaporator. The design of the unit was based on the theory of cooling towers. The complete unit was modeled with the TRNSYS program. The annual production of a unit with a collector area of 1 m ^{2} is 11.2 m ^{3} , which is a
satisfactory value — much better than the best enhanced solar still. An experimental unit which will be used for validation of the above results is under construction.
5. Symbols
— 

c _{p}_{m} 
— 
G _{t} 
— 
K _{a} 
— 
Area of interface, m ^{2} /m ^{3} Humid specific heat of moist air on a dry air basis, J/kg K Total solar radiation falling on the collector surface, W/m ^{2} Unit conductance sensible heat
transfer from interface to main air stream, W/m ^{2} K K _{w} — Unit conductance heat transfer from bulk water to interface, W/m ^{2} K
K
M
m
m
_{a}
m
_{w}
n
P _{w}_{s}
q
_{L}
q
_{s}
q
_{w}
— Unit conductance mass transfer from interface to main air stream, kg/s m ^{2}
— 
Quantity of water evaporated, kg/s 
— 
Mass transfer rate from interface to 
— 
air stream, kg/s Air mass flow rate, kg/s 
— 
Inlet water mass flow rate, kg/s 
— 
Collector thermal efficiency 
— 
Saturation pressure, Pa 
— 
Rate of latent heat transfer from 
— 
interface to airstream, W Rate of sensible heat transfer from 
— 
interface to air steam, W Rate of total heat transfer from 
bulk water to interface, W r — Latent heat of evaporation (con stant), kJ/kg
T
V
W _{a}
W≤
— Temperature difference, °C (i. e., inlet temperature to collector minus ambient temperature)
— 
Cooling volume, m ^{3} 
— 
Humidity ratio of air, kg/kg 
— 
Humidity ration of interface (film), kg/kg 
352 S.A. Kalogirou / Desalination 139 (2001) 345–352
References
[1]
D.R. Baker and H.A. Shryock, ASME Trans., J. Heat Transfer, August (1961) 339.
[2] Handbook of Fundamentals, ASHRAE, Atlanta, 1997, p. 6.8.
[3]
Handbook of Systems and Equipment, ASHRAE, Atlanta, 2000, p. 36.15.
[4] 
H.B. Bacha, M. Bouzguenda, M.S. Abid and A.Y. 
[5] 
Maalej, Renewable Energy, 18 (1999) 349. M. Petrakis, H.D. Kambezides, S. Lykoudis, A.D. 
[6] 
Adamopoulos, P. Kassomenos, I.M. Michaelides, S.A. Kalogirou, G. Roditis, I. Chrysis and A. Hadjigianni, Renewable Energy, 13 (1998) 381. S.A. Klein et al., TRNSYS 14.2. A Transient Simulation and Program. Solar Energy Laboratory, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1994. 
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