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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESEARCH

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921


Published online 2 June 2005 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/er.1116

Condensation of vapour on sub-cooled liquid


columns}application to the thermal design
of shell-and-tube condensers
A. Briggsn,y and H. H. Bui
Department of Engineering, Queen Mary, University of London, London E1 4NS, U.K.

SUMMARY
Energy and mass transfer to a column of condensate draining by gravity between two successive tubes
has been analysed theoretically. The results of the model agree well with previous experimental data
where the variation in condensate temperature with distance from the upper tube was measured.
The analysis provides a basic tool for the thermal analysis of inundated tubes by eliminating the need
to make assumptions about the condensate inundation temperature and mass ow rate on such tubes.
Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
KEY WORDS:

condensation; inundation; temperature; mass transfer

1. INTRODUCTION
Thermal design of a shell-and-tube condenser involves interactions between vapour and falling
condensate. Previous analysis has shown some degree of success in determining the combined
eect of the vapour and condensate ows but there are still many areas of uncertainty. One such
area is condensation on the falling condensate between consecutive tube rows, which will eect
the temperature and mass ow rate of the condensate and hence have an inuence on the
thermal performance of the lower tube. Chen (1961) speculated that the falling condensate
would reach the temperature of the surrounding vapour before impinging on the lower tube,
while Jacobs and Nadig (1984) proposed that it will always be below the vapour temperature
when it reaches the lower tube and hence condensation will commence at the top of the lower
tube. In theory either of the above can be true since the condensate temperature will depend on
the initial mass ow rate of the condensate, the temperature dierence between the condensate
and the surrounding vapour and the spacing between the tubes, as conrmed experimentally by
Celata et al. (1989), Lui et al. (1989) and Karapantsios et al. (1995). In all three of these
investigations the liquid column in question was generated articially. Honda et al. (1989) on
the other hand, measured the bulk condensate temperature at various distances below active
condenser tubes. Mitovis and Ricoeur (1995) analysed the situation theoretically. They assumed
n

Correspondence to: A. Briggs, Department of Engineering, Queen Mary, University of London, London E1 4NS, U.K.
E-mail: a.briggs@qmul.ac.uk

Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received 9 September 2004


Accepted 26 January 2005

914

A. BRIGGS AND H. H. BUI

the liquid velocity and temperature at the start of the liquid column were uniform and found
that the velocity remained nearly uniform even at large vertical distances from the start of
the column.

2. THEORETICAL ANALYSIS
2.1. Governing equations
In the present work we will examine the case where the subcooled condensate is assumed to
drain from the upper tube to the lower tube in continuous columns. The physical situation and
co-ordinate system are shown in Figure 1. If we consider a control volume of height dz,
condensate enters the element with a mass ow rate m and a velocity v, the later assumed
constant across the element normal to the direction of ow. (See Mitovis and Ricoeur (1995),
who found very small deviations from uniformity even for column lengths up to 150 mm, far
larger than found in practical condensers.) From continuity we have
p
m r d2 v
1
4
As the condensate accelerates due to gravity, v increases, while condensation onto the column
causes m to increase. Neglecting vapour shear at the condensatevapour interface, conservation
of momentum in the z direction gives
@v
@P
rg 
2
rv
@z
@z
where P is the pressure dierence between vapour and liquid and is given by
2s
3
P
d
Substituting Equation (3) into Equation (2) and integrating will yield an expression for the
variation in d with z. The boundary condition on v (and hence d ) with respect to z is, however,
dicult to dene since the ow at z=0 is three-dimensional. Honda et al. (1987) used the

Figure 1. Physical situation and co-ordinate system.


Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

915

CONDENSATION OF VAPOUR

boundary condition v=0 (d=1) at z=0 which gives


1 2
2s
rv rgz 
2
d

Eliminating v from Equations (1) and (4) we have




m 2
2s
8r
rgz 
rpd 2
d

For small values of z Equation (5) gives negative values of d but the solution develops into
reasonable values after about 1 or 2 mm for the practical range of the relevant parameters.
Honda et al. (1987) assumed the condensate mass ow rate in the column, m, was constant
(i.e. neglecting condensation on the column). In the present analysis we will include
condensation on the condensate column and calculate the resulting increase in mass ow rate
and temperature with z. The increase in mass ow rate over the element dz is given by
q
dm
pd dz
6
hfg
where q is the heat ux from vapour to condensate at the interface given by
 
@T
qk
@r rR
where R=d/2.
Conservation of energy in the condensate column gives
 2

@T
@ T 1 @T
k
rcp v

@z
@r2
r @r

The left hand side of Equation (8) represents transport of enthalpy vertically by convection
(velocities, and therefore convection in the other two directions being neglected) while the right
hand side represents conduction in the radial direction (conduction in the tangential direction
being neglected since the problem is two dimensional and in the vertical direction because the
temperature gradients in this direction are small compared to the radial direction). Equation (8)
was solved using a nite dierence method with T=Tv at r=R and @T=@r 0 at r=0. The
boundary condition on T with respect to z is somewhat dicult to dene for the same reasons as
mentioned above in connection with those on d. In the present analysis we will approximate the
temperature prole at the rst step to a quadratic of the following form:
 r 2
T Tcl Tv  Tcl
9
R
where Tcl is the condensate temperature at the centre line of the column for the rst step only
and is given by
Tcl 2Tbo  Tv

10

where Tbo is the bulk mean temperature of the condensate. Equation (9) gives T=Tv at r=R
and T=Tcl at r=0.z
z

From Equation (11)


;Tcl 2Tbo  Tv :

we

have

Tbo

Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

RR
0

Tr dr=

RR
0

r dr

RR h
0


2 i
RR
Tcl Tv  Tcl r=R r dr= 0 r dr 12Tcl Tv

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

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A. BRIGGS AND H. H. BUI

Finally, noting that the velocity in the condensate column is independent of r, the bulk mean
condensate inundation temperature at any point z is calculated from
Z R
Z R
Tr dr
r dr
11
Tbz
0

2.2. Solution scheme


The following iterative scheme was employed to nd the variation of m, d and Tbz with z for
predened values of m0, Tbo and Tv.
1. At z=dz, calculate the condensate column diameter d from Equation (5).
2. Calculate the centre line temperature in the condensate column, Tcl and the initial
temperature prole, using Equation (10) and Equation (9), respectively.
3. Calculate the heat ux at the condensate surface using Equation (7).
4. Calculate the subsequent increase in condensate mass ow rate over the next element dz
using Equation (6).
5. Calculate the new condensate column diameter d and velocity v using Equations (5)
and (1).
6. Calculate the new condensate temperature prole and mean condensate temperature using
Equations (8) and (11), respectively.
7. Repeat steps 36 for the next element dz until z=Z, the vertical distance between tubes.

3. COMPARISON WITH EXPERIMENTAL DATA


Honda et al. (1989) reported measurements of inundation temperatures for condensation of
R-113. A small cup containing two thermocouples was used to catch the draining condensate at
various positions below the condensing tube. There was some diculty in collecting falling
condensate in the measuring cup due to vapour shear causing the condensate column to move
around randomly. It should be noted, therefore, that this method is subject to considerable
uncertainty and the resulting data should be viewed with caution.
In order to compare the results of Honda et al. (1989) with the present analysis the initial
mass ow rate in one column of condensate, m0 was calculated from
m0 Gl

12

where G is the mass ow rate of condensate draining from the bottom of the tube divided by the
tube length and l is the spacing between drainage sites, which here is assumed to be equal to the
well known Taylor instability wavelength as follows:
s
2s
l 2p
13
rg
An estimate is also needed of Tbo, the initial temperature of the draining condensate. Two
methods were used for this. In the rst Tbo was taken as the bulk mean temperature of the
condensate assuming laminar ow around the tube and using the assumptions of the Nusselt
(1916) approach, which predicts a parabolic velocity gradient and linear temperature gradient in
Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

917

Ref = 300, T = 9.7 K


Ref = 520, T = 23.0 K
0

10

15
z / mm

Tbz / K

(a)

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

Tbz / K

Tbz / K

CONDENSATION OF VAPOUR

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

20

25

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

Ref = 420, T = 11.5 K


Ref = 660, T = 22.6 K
0

10

15

20

25

z / mm

(b)

Ref = 480, T = 8.8 K


Ref = 880, T = 20.4 K
0

10

15

20

25

z / mm

(c)

Figure 2. Comparison of present model (lines) with data of Honda et al. (1989) (points) using initial bulk
mean temperature from laminar theory: (a) Tv=323.45 K, Uv=4.3 m s1; (b) Tv=323.45 K, Uv=7.9 m s1;
and (c) Tv=323.45 K, Uv=11.9 m s1.

the lm. This yields the following expression.


Tbo Tv  38 DT

14

where Tv is the vapour temperature and DT the vapour-side temperature dierence (vapour
temperature minus tube wall temperature). In the second method Tbo was estimated by
extrapolating the experimental data of Honda et al. (1989) back to z=0.
Figures 2 and 3 compare the experimental data of Honda et al. (1989) with the present
analysis using the above two methods of estimating the initial bulk temperature of the draining
condensate. From Figure 2 it can be seen that the bulk mean temperature calculated using the
laminar lm model (Equation (14)) gives relatively good agreement with the measurements at
low to moderate mass ow rates (i.e. low to moderate lm Reynolds numbers) but
underestimates the temperature of the draining condensate by up to 6 K at the higher mass
ow rates (i.e. lm Reynolds numbers above about 600). The disagreement between theory and
experiment is greatest when both condensate mass ow rate and vapour velocity are high. Both
these factors would tend to induce turbulence in the condensate lm and hence Equation (14)
would be increasingly invalid as both condensate ow rate and vapour velocity increase.
The results in Figure 3 show better agreement with the higher mass ow rate data than those
shown in Figure 2, but slightly worse agreement at lower mass ow rates. Overall, however, the
agreement between experiment and theory is much better, although this might be expected since
the theoretical curves are eectively anchored to the experimental data at z=0 due to the use of
Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

Ref = 300, T = 9.7 K


Ref = 520, T = 23.0 K
0

10

15
z / mm

Tbz / K

(a)

A. BRIGGS AND H. H. BUI

Tbz / K

Tbz / K

918

(c)

20

25

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

Ref = 420, T = 11.5 K


Ref = 660, T = 22.6 K
0

10

324
323
322
321
320
319
318
317
316
315
314

15

20

25

z / mm

(b)

Ref = 480, T = 8.8 K


Ref = 880, T = 20.4 K
0

10

15
z / mm

20

25

Figure 3. Comparison of present model (lines) with data of Honda et al. (1989) (points) using initial bulk
mean temperature from extrapolation of experimental data: (a) Tv=323.45 K, Uv=4.3 m s1; (b)
Tv=323.45 K, Uv=7.9 m s1; and (c) Tv=323.45 K, Uv=11.9 m s1.

the extrapolated value of Tbo. The theory does however continue to show good agreement for
increasing values of z for all the data sets.
Given the uncertainties in the measured condensate temperature mentioned above, and
considering the additional problem of estimating the initial bulk mean temperature of the
condensate, the agreement between theory and experiment can be considered satisfactory.

4. PARAMETRIC STUDY
The analytical model developed and validated above will now be used to investigate the eect of
initial mass ow rate and initial bulk mean temperature on the variation of condensate
temperature and mass ow rate for a practically relevant range of the controlling parameters.
Figure 4 shows the variation of condensate temperature with distance from the upper tube for
steam and R-123, for a single initial condensate mass ow rate and a range of initial condensate
temperatures. The value of the mass ow rate per length, G, draining from the upper tube for
each uid was chosen as the lowest value for which column drainage might be expected based on
the experimental observations of Briggs et al. (2000) for refrigerant and Briggs and Bui (2003)
for steam. The values are nominally equivalent to the condensation rate on one tube for R-123
and three tubes for steam. The initial mass ow rate in the condensate column, m0, was
calculated from G using Equation (12).
Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

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CONDENSATION OF VAPOUR

330
380

Tv = 373.15 K

Tv = 320 K

320
Tbo = 370 K
Tbo = 360 K

360

Tbz / K

Tbz / K

370

Tbo = 350 K
Tbo = 340 K

350

310

300

340
330

(a)

Tbo = 315 K
Tbo = 310 K
Tbo = 305 K
Tbo = 300 K
Tbo = 295 K

10

20

30

40

290

50

z / mm

(b)

10

20

30

40

50

z / mm

Figure 4. Variation of condensate temperature with distance from upper tube}eect of initial condensate
temperature: (a) steam, G=0.03 kg m1 s1; and (b) R-123, G=0.01 kg m1 s1.

330
380

Tv = 320 K

Tv = 373.15 K
320

360
 = 0.2 kg/m s
 = 0.1 kg/m s
 = 0.05 kg/m s
 = 0.03 kg/m s

350
340
330

(a)

Tbz / K

Tbz / K

370

10

20

30
z / mm

310

 = 0.15 kg/m s
 = 0.10 kg/m s
 = 0.05 kg/m s
 = 0.03 kg/m s
 = 0.01 kg/m s

300

40

50

290

(b)

10

20
z / mm

30

40

50

Figure 5. Variation of condensate temperature with distance from upper tube}eect of initial condensate
mass ow rate: (a) steam, Tbo=350 K; and (b) R-123, Tbo=300 K.

For both uids and all initial condensate temperatures there is a rapid increase in condensate
temperature just below the upper tube as expected, as vapour condenses on the subcooled liquid
in the condensate column. The rate of temperature rise falls o as the liquid temperature
approaches that of the vapour and condensation decreases. For a typical shell-and-tube
condenser, with 19 mm tubes in an equilateral triangular arrangement of 25 mm pitch the
vertical distance between a given tube and the one immediately below it (i.e. two rows down)
would be 36 mm. It can be seen from Figure 4 that for both uids the condensate column
temperature would be very close to the vapour temperature when the condensate impinged on
the next tube regardless of the degree of subcooling of the condensate as it leaves the upper tube.
Figure 5 shows the change in condensate temperature for steam and R-123 for a single initial
temperature and a range of mass ow rates. The maximum ow rate chosen for each uid is
equivalent to approximately 15 rows for refrigerant and 25 rows for steam. For the low ow
rates the condensate temperature quickly approaches that of the vapour while at the higher ow
rates the rate of increase is much smaller as expected and the condensate would still be
signicantly subcooled when it reached the next tube row.
Figure 6 shows the percentage increase in the mass ow rate in the condensate column against
initial mass ow rate for a range of initial condensate temperatures. The calculations are based
Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921

920

A. BRIGGS AND H. H. BUI

120

R-123
Tv = 320 K

m (z = 50 mm) / mo (%)

m (z = 50 mm) / mo (%)

103

102

101

Tbo = 340 K
Tbo = 350 K

115

110

Tbo = 295 K
Tbo = 300 K
Tbo = 305 K
Tbo = 310 K
Tbo = 315 K

105

Tbo = 360 K

100

(a)

Tbo = 370 K

50

100

150

/ (g /m s)

200

100

250

(b)

20

40

60

80

100

120

140

160

/ (g /m s)

Figure 6. Percentage increase in mass ow rate of condensate:


(a) steam, Tv=373.15 K; and (b) R-123, Tv=320 K.

on a column length (i.e. vertical spacing between tubes) of 50 mm. For steam the increase in
mass ow rate of condensate in the column never exceeds 4%, even for large initial subcooling
of the condensate. For R-123, however, up to an additional 15% of vapour, by mass, condenses
on the column compared to that draining from the upper tube.

5. CONCLUSIONS
In the present work the temperature distribution, condensate mass ow rate and diameter of a
column of condensate draining between two successive tubes has been calculated. The results of
the model are in satisfactory agreement with previous experimental data where the variation in
temperature was measured. There is some uncertainty, however, in the appropriate method of
estimating the initial bulk mean temperature of the condensate as it drains from the upper tube.
A parametric study using the model shows that for steam and refrigerant at low condensate
ow rates, i.e. equivalent to the condensation rate on 13 tubes, the draining condensate will be
close to the vapour temperature when it impinges onto the next tube in the bank. For higher
mass ow rates, however, the condensate will still be signicantly subcooled when it reaches the
next tube row.
The analysis provides a tool for studying the heat transfer to inundated tubes by eliminating
the need to make assumptions about the condensate inundation temperature and mass ow rate
on such tubes.

NOMENCLATURE
cp
d
g
hfg
k
m

=specic isobaric heat capacity of condensate (J kg1 K1)


=diameter of condensate column (m)
=specic force of gravity (N kg1)
=specic enthalpy of evaporation (J kg1)
=thermal conductivity of condensate (W m1 K1)
=mass ow rate in condensate column (kg s1)

Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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CONDENSATION OF VAPOUR

m0
P
q
R
Ref
r
T
Tbo
Tbz
Tcl
Tv
Tw
v
Uv
Z
z

=mass ow rate at top of condensate column (kg s1)


=pressure dierence between liquid column and vapour (Pa)
=heat ux to condensate column (W m2)
=radius of condensate column (m)
=lm Reynolds number at bottom of tube (=4G/m) (dimensionless)
=radial co-ordinate (see Figure 1) (m)
=temperature (K)
=bulk mean temperature of condensate for rst step (K)
=bulk mean temperature of condensate at z (K)
=temperature at centreline of condensate column for rst step (K)
=vapour temperature (K)
=tube wall temperature (K)
=velocity in condensate column (m s1)
=vapour velocity (m s1)
=distance between two tubes (m)
=vertical coordinate measured from bottom of tube (see Figure 1) (m)

Greek letters
G
DT
l
m
r
s

=mass ow rate of condensate draining from bottom of tube divided by tube


length (kg m1 s1)
=temperature dierence across condensate lm (=TvTw) (K)
=distance between drainage sites (m)
=dynamic viscosity of condensate (kg m1 s1)
=density of condensate (kg m3)
=surface tension (N m1)

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Copyright # 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Int. J. Energy Res. 2005; 29:913921