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Section 2.

Evaporators

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Scale Deposition
2.3 Scale Prevention
2.4 Approvals

NALFLEET
Technical Support Manual

2.

Sea-Water Evaporators

2.1

Introduction

Sea-Water Evaporators - Page 2

The evaporator (Figs 1, 2&3) is a critical part of the integrated water systems found on seagoing vessels.
These units are essentially low or negative pressure boilers designed to evaporate,
condense and collect pure water from sea-water make-up.
They are normally fed with warm sea-water that has been used to cool the engine cooling
system and extra heat is applied to cause evaporation. Pure water is condensed and
collected for subsequent use in:

Engine cooling circuits

Boiler Make-up water

Potable drinking water supply

2.2

Scale Deposition

There are numerous suppliers and types of evaporators and they all function to produce
pure water with concentrated sea-water as waste.
This concentration effect can lead to the formation of damaging scales within the
evaporator and lead to downtime for cleaning and maintenance.
Over concentration is usually prevented by having a continuous stream of sea-water
passing through the unit thus maintaining a satisfactory dilution of the sea-water side of the
evaporator. However, because of the high salt content, when sea-water is elevated to
temperatures above 30 C scales can begin to form on heat transfer surfaces.
Depending on the degree of concentration these scales can be:

Calcium carbonate
Magnesium carbonate
Calcium/magnesium sulphate

Additionally as the majority of evaporators operate under vacuum there is a tendency for
the make-up water side to foam, which can give rise to carry-over and contamination of the
pure water stream.
There are many mechanisms governing the rate of scale formation but the main ones are:
2.2.1

Supersaturation

This is where the concentration of dissolved salts exceed their solubility at the particular
temperature encountered and precipitation begins to occur.
When deposition occurs under these conditions heavy scale deposits can rapidly build up
and lead to a loss of heat transfer efficiency.
Scale deposition due to supersaturation is often localised in areas of elevated temperature
such as heat transfer surfaces in heat-exchangers. This is because of localised over
concentration of salts with respect to the temperature of the thin water layer at the surface
of the metal.
Scale deposition can therefore occur on heat-exchange surfaces even when the conditions
in the bulk of the water are not scale forming.
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2.2.2

Sea-Water Evaporators - Page 3

Nucleation

This effect describes the initial precipitation of scale particles which can occur in a
spontaneous manner or when a foreign particle acts as a seed or nucleation site for the
scale to bind onto and form around.
The roughness of internal surfaces plays an important factor in this process and metal
surfaces contain many microscopic peaks and valleys that act as nucleation sites for scale.
2.2.3

Contact Time

In the environment at the heat transfer surface, scale is being precipitated and re-dissolved
continuously and it is only when the rate of precipitation exceed the rate of dissolution that
scale deposition occurs.
In general the contact time required for scale deposition to occur will reduce as temperature
at the surface rises and as flow rate reduces.

2.2.4

pH and Alkalinity

As the pH and alkalinity of a water increase there is naturally a greater tendency for the
water to be scale forming.
2.2.5

Temperature

Compounds such as calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate exhibit an inverse solubility
with temperature i.e. as temperature rises these compound become less soluble.

To minimise the rate of scale deposition it is recommended to strictly adhere to the


manufacturers recommended operating temperatures and procedures. However, for the
reasons previously explained, scale deposition is always likely to occur at the operating
temperatures found at the heat transfer surfaces

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2.2.6

Sea-Water Evaporators - Page 4

Flow velocity

Low flow rates can lead to non-turbulent or laminar flow across heat transfer surfaces.
This effect will increase the incidence of scaling as it will allow the water to reach higher
temperatures and increase the contact time in an environment for scale formation.

2.3

Scale Prevention

2.3.1

Concentration Factor

In order to prevent excessive concentration of salts in the body of sea-water in the


evaporator it is necessary to apply a continuous blowdown.
The maximum concentration which can be tolerated before calcium and magnesium
sulphate or carbonate scales will begin to form is around 2. Thus for an evaporator
producing 5 tons/day or distilled water the minimum feed rate should be 10 tons/day, and 5
tons of blowdown is required to maintain the concentration factor below 2.
The concentration factor of the evaporator can be calculated from the amount of feed
divided by input, less the output of distilled water:
Concentration Factor

Total Sea-water Feed


Total Sea-water Feed - Evaporated water Output

The maximum concentrations permitted in an evaporator is governed by the design


characteristics of the unit and is normally quoted by the manufacturer in their operating
manuals.
2.3.2

Chemical Treatment

Even when the concentration factor is maintained in recommended limits there is still a
great risk of scale formation at the heat transfer surfaces due to the mechanisms already
described and it is necessary to apply a suitable scale inhibitor to the sea-water make up
line to further prevent scale deposition and foaming.
NALFLEET MAXI-VAP is a scale inhibitor and anti-foam treatment specially designed for
sea-water evaporators which will prevent scale build up at heat transfer surfaces and
prevent impurity carry over with the distillate.
NALFLEET MAXI-VAP is normally dosed at 100 ml per 10 tons of evaporator output.
A suitable automatic dosing system can be fitted to provide accurate treatment application.
Successful evaporator performance will be achieved by paying close attention to the
following parameters:

Ensure correct mechanical operation


Ensure correct Feed-water flow
Work to specified design temperatures
Apply and control a suitable scale inhibitor/antifoam

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2.4

Sea-Water Evaporators - Page 5

Approvals

MAXI-VAP is approved by the U.K. Department Of Transport, Marine Safety Agency,


Norwegian National Institute for Public Hygiene and Health, Japan Food Research
Laboratories for use as a scale inhibitor in the feed-water to evaporators used to produce
fresh water for drinking and culinary purposes.
Fig.1 Typical Evaporator Layout

Fig 2. Alfa Laval Multi-Effect Evaporator

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Sea-Water Evaporators - Page 6

Fig 3. Weir Single Effect Evaporator

1. Vapour Shell - Aluminium Brass


2. Heat Input Shell 2b. Tubes
3. Lower Cover
4. De-mister
5a. Tube Plate. 5b. Tubes
6. Distiller Cover
7. Ejector Body
8. Ejector Nozzle
9. Inlet Strainer
10. Flow indicator
11. Input Controller
12. Output Controller

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