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1 Regenerative Steam Cycle

The regenerative feedwater heating or regeneration is one of the most commonly used
methods to increase the thermal efficiency of steam power plants.
This chapter deals with working principles and analysis of regenerative feedwater heating
Some examples on open and closed feedwater heaters and their possible arrangements
are presented.

Feedwater Tank

P1.1 Acknowledgements
Author: Birute Bunkute, KTH, 2004, Reviewed and modified by Catharina Erlich, 2006
Reviewer: Marianne Salomon, KTH, 2004
Editor: Vitali Fedulov, KTH, 2005

P1.2 Literature (recommended further reading)

Michael J. Moran, Howard N. Shapiro; 1993
Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics
Toronto: John Willey & Sons, Inc. 1993, ISBN 0-471-59275-7
T.D. Eastop, A. McConkey; 1986
Applied Thermodynamics for Engineering Technologists
New York: John Willey & Sons, Inc. 1986, ISBN 0-582-30535-7
Weston, K, 1992 "Energy Conversion – The EBook",

P1.3 Prerequisites
It is expected that the reader has knowledge about:

Basic steam cycle
Basic thermodynamics (at least 160 LU = 4 weeks of fulltime studies),
At least one year of studies in an engineering career at university level.

P1.4 LU and TU
Learning Units: 6
Teaching Units: 2

P1.5 Feedwater tank

Feedwater tank at heat and power laboratory, Energy Department, KTH, Stockholm Sweden
(year 2004)

S.2 Educational Objectives

After this chapter the student should:

Understand thermodynamic principles of regenerative feedwater heating,

Know differences between open and closed feedwater heaters,
Sketch a flow diagram of a regenerative steam cycle
Be able to perform thermodynamic analysis of a steam cycle with several feedwater

S.3 Working Principle of Feedwater Heating

The commonly used method for increasing the thermal efficiency of a steam power plant is
regenerative feedwater heating or regeneration.

Regeneration is a procedure of heating the feedwater before it enters the boiler in order to
decrease the temperature difference in the boiler.

Regenerative feedwater heating can be preformed in two ways:
– Feedwater passes through coils around the turbine (theoretical method),
– Extraction of steam into one or several heaters (practical method).

Boiler Turbine

Pump Heater Pump


P3.1 Thermal efficiency

The thermal efficiency of a power plant is the ratio between useful work obtained and
energy rate of the fuel input.

P3.2 Temperature difference

The heat supply in the boiler of a steam cycle is a non-isothermal process; the temperature
of the working fluid in the boiler increases during the heat supply.

T 1



1-2: Expansion of steam in the turbine

2-3: Condensation in the condenser
3-4: Pumping of feedwater to boiler pressure
4-5-6-1: Heat supply in boiler which generates steam

P3.3 Around the turbine
The condensed liquid passes through coils around the turbine and receives heat from
the fluid expanding in the turbine.
This is not done in a practical cycle

Theoretical Regenerative steam cycle flow diagram

P3.4 Steam into one or several heaters

Extraction of steam into heaters is the practical approach of regeneration.
There are two types of feedwater heaters:
- Closed feedwater heaters, in which the streams (feedwater and extracted steam) do not
- Open feedwater heaters, in which the streams (feedwater and extracted steam) mix


Boiler Turbine

6 5

Open Pump
Feedwater Condenser
Single extraction regenerative cycle flow diagram with an open heater

The heat (kJ/kg steam) to be supplied in the boiler is given by (h1 – h7); heating the working
fluid from temperature T7 up to temperature T1

1-2-3: expansion process in the turbine,
3-4: condensation process in the 1

4-5: pumping of feedwater to achieve

open-heater pressure, 7 T
5-6: heating of feedwater in the heater by 6
mixing with steam from turbine (open a
5 T
feedwater heater) 3
2-6: Cooling and condensing of extracted

6-7: pumping of heated feedwater to

achieve boiler pressure,
7-1: heating in the boiler.
Single extraction regenerative cycle flow
diagram. The temperature differences, ∆T:s, are
a-1: heating required in the boiler if no
not necessarily equal
feedwater preheating is employed

S.4 Thermal Efficiency Consideration

The maximum thermal efficiency of all reversible power cycles operating between two
temperatures Thigh and Tlow is the Carnot efficiency.

The Carnot efficiency is defined as:

T 1
ηCarnot = 1 −
Tin1 (Thigh) Thigh
Tin2 (Thigh) where Thigh is the mean temperature of
4 the heat supply in the boiler,
Tlow is the temperature at the steam side in
the condenser.
3 2
The regenerative steam cycle has higher
thermal efficiency than the basic steam

P4.1 Mean temperature
The temperature of the working fluid increases during the heat supply, which means that it
is a non-isothermal process.
For cycle efficiency analysis, the mean temperature of heat addition is considered. This
reflects what the temperature would be if the same amount of heat would be added all at
one temperature.
The mean temperature of heat addition is:

Tin =
Qin is heat transfer from energy source into the working fluid passing through the boiler,
∆s is entropy increase of the working fluid during heating in the boiler.

P4.2 Higher thermal efficiency

The temperature-entropy diagram shows the mean temperature of heat supply for a simple
steam cycle (Tin2) and a regenerative steam cycle (Tin1).

Qin1 (Qin2)

3 2

s1 s

T-s diagram for a steam cycle with three closed feedwater heaters

1-2: expansion in the turbine,

2-3: condensation process in the condenser,
3-4: feedwater preheating in closed heaters,
4-1: heat addition in boiler.

- the amount of heat transferred from extracted steam (from turbine) to the feedwater.

∆s1 = s1 - s4: entropy increase of the working fluid during heating in the boiler with feedwater
∆s2 = s1 - s3: entropy increase of the working fluid during heating in the boiler without
feedwater preheating

Qin1 = heat supply to the steam cycle with feedwater preheating (heating needed from
temperature T4 to T1)

Qin2 = heat supply to the steam cycle without feedwater preheating (heating needed from
temperature T3 to T1)

According to Carnot, the higher is the temperature of heat supply, the higher is the thermal
efficiency of the cycle.

The mean temperature of heat addition with preheating , Tin1 is higher than mean
temperature of heat addition without preheating Tin 2 , thus the thermal efficiency for the
steam cycle becomes higher with feedwater preheating.

The regenerative feedwater heating has a larger impact on the thermal efficiency than the
power lost in the turbine caused by steam extraction.

S.5 Open Feedwater Heaters

An open feedwater heater is a direct contact-type heat exchanger in which the streams at
different temperatures mix to form a stream at an intermediate temperature.


Boiler Turbine

6 5

Open Pump
Feedwater Condenser

T-s diagram

Thermodynamic analysis
The special type of the open feedwater heater is the feedwater tank.

P5.1 Direct contact-type heat exchanger
The principle scheme of open feedwater heaters is given below:

Tw2 = Ts(p)


The advantage of using open feedwater heaters is that the feedwater is heated to the
saturation temperature of the extraction steam; the temperature efficiency is therefore
Pumps are needed in between the heaters, as the heaters are working at different pressure
levels. The need of pumping power is a disadvantage (from cost perspective) when using
only open feedwater heaters in a steam cycle.

P5.2 T-s diagram


a 6
5 3

1-2-3: expansion process in the turbine,

3-4 : condensation process in the condenser,
4-5: pumping of feedwater to achieve feedwater heater pressure,
5-6: heating feedwater in the heater by mixing with steam extracted from the turbine.
(2-6: cooling and condensation of steam extracted from turbine)
6-7: pumping to achieve pressure in the boiler,
7-1: heating needed in the boiler with feedwater preheating.
a-1: heating in the boiler without feedwater preheating

P5.3 The thermodynamic analysis

An important initial step is the evaluation of the mass and energy flow rates through each
of the components.


Boiler Turbine

6 5

Open Pump
Feedwater Condenser

Heat balance for one open heater:

m& extr ⋅ h2 + (m& − m& extr ) ⋅ h5 − m& extr ⋅ h6 = 0

mextr, h2

m, h6 m-mextr, h5

The turbine power output with one extraction point:

Pt = m& ⋅ (h1 − h2 ) + (m& − m& extr ) ⋅ (h2 − h3 )

The total pumping power that is required:

Pp1 = m& ⋅ (h7 − h6 ) ≈ 0 as h7 ≈ h6 (liquids are incompressible)

Pp 2 = (m& − m& extr ) ⋅ (h5 − h4 ) ≈ 0 as h5 ≈ h4 (liquids are incompressible)

Pp ,tot = P1 + P2 ≈ 0

m, h7
h5 m-mextr
m, h6

Pump 1 Pump 2

Heat addition in the boiler:

Q& boiler = m& ⋅ (h1 − h7 )

m, h7 m, h1

P5.4 Feedwater tank

The feedwater tank has three purposes:
– Water container. This is to be able to operate the cycle at part load, i.e. to
decrease massflow through the cycle.
– Open-type feedwater heater,
– Deaerator (for releasing gases out). Dissolved gases in the working fluid may
cause erosion in cycle components; thus there is a need for venting the gases.

Gas out

Feedwater inlet

Steam from Plates


2 - 10 bar

to boiler

Feedwater Tank

S.6 Closed Feedwater Heaters

Closed heaters are shell-and-tube-type recuperators in which the feedwater temperature
increases (5-6) when the extracted steam first cools and thereafter condenses (2-7) on the
outside of the tubes.

The condensate of extracted steam is commonly lead through a pressure trap (7-8) to the
next lower pressure heater or to the condenser where it is added to the main stream.

T-s diagram

5-6: feedwater heating in the heater,

2-7: cooling and condensation of steam in the heater. Observe that the steam extracted from
the turbine most often is at superheated state, thus cooling takes place before condensation.

7-8: condensate pressure decrease in a trap

Thermodynamic analysis
There are several arrangements of closed feedwater heaters.

P6.1 Shell-and-tube-type recuperators

The closed type of feedwater heater is shown below. This is tube-type heat exchanger.

Steam from


Support plate Drainage

P6.2 T- s diagram

6 7 2

4 8

1-2-3: expansion process in the turbine,

3-4: condensation process in the condenser,
4-5: pumping of feedwater to boiler pressure
5-6: feedwater heating in the closed-type heater,
(2-7: cooling and thereafter condensation of extracted steam)
6-1: heat addition in the boiler when a closed feedwater heater is utilised,
7-8: pressure decrease of the condensate along the constant enthalpy line (isenthalpic
process) in a trap. The enthalpy change is thus zero; i.e. h8 = h7.

P6.3 The thermodynamic analysis

Steam cycle analysis is based on analysis of separate cycle components. To calculate the
power output of the cycle, it is needed to know the steam extraction massflow.
Heat balance for one closed heater (energy is conserved)

m& extr ⋅ (h2 − h7 ) = m& ⋅ (h6 − h5 )

The turbine power output for one extraction point:

Pt = m& ⋅ (h1 − h2 ) + (m& − m& extr ) ⋅ (h2 − h3 )

The pump work:

Pp = m& ⋅ ( h5 − h4 ) ≈ 0
m, h5
m, h4

Work required for pump can be neglected, because a liquid is incompressible (negligible
temperature increase when pressure is increased) i.e.:

h5 ≈ h4
The heat supply in the boiler:

Q& boiler = m& ⋅ ( h1 − h6 )

m, h6 m, h1

P6.4 Arrangements
Arrangement 1:

The most common arrangement of closed-type heaters is where the condensate is led
to the next lower pressure heater as indicated in the figure below.
Condensate from the preheater with the lowest pressure (i.e. the last preheater) is led to
the condenser.
The condensate from the higher pressure preheater passes a trap to reduce the
pressure before entering the lower pressure preheater.
The condensate from the higher pressure preheater will partly change phase after the
pressure trap, as indicated earlier in the T-s diagram.
However, the throttling is isenthalpic, i.e. takes place at constant enthalpy. Therefore
the enthalpy of condensate exiting the high pressure preheater is the same as when
entering the lower pressure preheater.
This condensate will contribute to the feedwater to be heated in the lower pressure
In an arrangement with only closed feedwater heaters, there is simplified only need for
one pump after the condenser, as the feedwater does not mix with the steam extracted.
Practically, the pumping can be divided into two steps:

• First pump after the condenser (before the first heater) to raise the pressure of
feedwater to such a level so that steaming of feedwater into the heaters is
(Example: Feedwater with 2.0 bar pressure enters a closed preheater in which
the temperature of the extracted steam is 130ºC. As water at 2.0 bar boils at
120ºC, there is an overwhelming risk that part of the feedwater will start to
boil. The feedwater pressure thus needs to be higher than 2.7 bar, which is
the saturation pressure of 130ºC)

• Second pump after the last preheater to increase the pressure up to the boiler

P Ts(p)

Tw2 Tw1
Tw1 Tw2<Ts(p)

Arrangement 2:
The closed-heater is physically divided into a separate steam cooler and a condensing
This can be done as the steam from the turbine extraction most often is superheated at the
given pressure and thus needs cooling before it can condense.
The feedwater is first entering the condensing heater and afterwards it is heated in the
steam cooling part.


T Td


Arrangement 3:

The feedwater first enters a heater where the condensate from the closed feedwater heater
is sub-cooled, thus leaving heat to the feedwater. Thereafter the feedwater is further
heated in the closed heater.

I Ts(p)
Tw2 Tw1


Ts(p) L

S.7 Multiple Feedwater Heaters

The thermal efficiency of the regenerative cycle can be increased by incorporating several
feedwater heaters at suitably chosen pressures.

The choice of the number of heaters is based on a balance between efficiency increase
and investment cost.
Power plants with multiple heaters have at least one open-type heater.
Analysis of the regenerative steam cycle with multiple heaters

P7.1 Number of heaters

Increasing the number of heaters, the capital cost also increases of power plant (heater,
piping, pumps, etc.).
For each heater added the efficiency of the power plant is increased, but there is a larger
gain in increasing the number of heaters from one to two, than from five to six.
A large number of heaters may be employed if the running costs of the plant are that high
(for example an expensive fuel to the boiler), so that each tenth of a percent in efficiency
increase give significance to the overall economy.
Computer codes are employed to simulate the thermodynamic and economic performance
of different designs to help deciding:
– The number of heaters to use,
– Which types of heaters to be employed,
– And at which pressures the heaters should operate.
Up to seven feedwater heaters are common in modern steam power plants.

P7.2 Have at least one

Power plants with multiple feedwater heaters normally have at least one open feedwater
heater (often the deaerator) operating at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure in
order to ventilate oxygen and other dissolved gases from the cycle.
The feedwater tank also serves as water storage, making possible to increase or decrease
the massflow through the cycle, so that the cycle can run on part load (and thus less fuel is
fed into the boiler)

P7.3 Analysis
To clarify the quantities of matter flowing through the various plant components, heat
balances are employed.

(m) T

2 5 G
5 4
6 (m-m1-m2) 10 5
9 13
(m) (m2) 8

10 7
7 6
9 8
(m1) 13

The steam extraction flows are determined from mass and energy balances for control
volumes around each of the feedwater heaters, starting with the highest pressure heater

– Heat balance for the closed heater:

m& ⋅ (h11 − h10 ) = m& 1 ⋅ (h2 − h12 )

– Heat balance for open heater:

m& 2 ⋅ h5 + (m& − m& 1 − m& 2 ) ⋅ h8 + m& 1 ⋅ h13 − m& ⋅ h9 = 0

where h13 = h12 ;h8 ≈ h7 and the flow exiting at 9 normally is at saturated liquid state

m2, h5

m, h9 m-m1-m2, h8

m1, h13

Power output from the turbine

First stage:

Pt1 = m& ⋅ (h1 − h2 ) + (m& − m& 1 ) ⋅ (h2 − h3 )

Second stage:

Pt 2 = ( m& − m& 1 ) ⋅ ( h4 − h5 ) + ( m& − m& 1 − m& 2 ) ⋅ ( h5 − h6 )

The pump work can be neglected, because the enthalpy change in the pump is almost
equal to zero.
The total heat added into this exemplifying cycle is the sum of energy added by heat
transfer during boiling/superheating and reheating:

Q& in = m& ⋅ ( h1 − h11 ) + ( m& − m& 1 ) ⋅ (h4 − h3 )

m-m1, h4

m-m1, h3

m, h1

m, h11

S.8 Summary
The thermal efficiency of the steam power cycle can be increased using regenerative
heating of feedwater before the boiler, as heat in the boiler thus will be supplied at a higher
average temperature (Carnot's efficiency expression).
Feedwater heating can be performed in the direct contact-type exchangers, which are
called open heaters.
The shell-and-tube-type recuperators, so called closed heaters can be also applied for
feedwater heating.
In most steam power plants, arrangements with several heaters and with at least one open-
type heater (feedwater tank) are employed.

S.9 This you must know

The maximum thermal efficiency for reversible power cycles is:
Ideal Rankine efficiency
Carnot efficiency
Rankine efficiency

Regeneration is:
Heating some fraction of steam in the boiler
Feedwater heating with steam extracted from boiler
Feedwater heating before boiler with extracted steam from turbine
Feedwater heating before heat exchanger with extracted steam from boiler

Open feedwater heater is

Direct contact-type heat exchanger
Shell-and-tube type heat exchanger

Closed feedwater heater is
Shell-and-tube type heat exchanger
Feedwater tank
Direct contact-type heat exchanger

Feedwater tank functions are:

Water container
Condense steam from turbine
Deaerator (Gases out)
Open-type feedwater heater
Closed-type feedwater heater

Steam cycle usually has at least one open feedwater heater because
It is economically more feasible
It is technically more feasible
It removes air from cycle
It increases cycle efficiency