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Falling-film evaporator A.

Lehnberger1,
plant for a cane sugar F. Brahim1 and
S.S. Mallikarjun2
factory: Presentation of
the concept and operating
results* BMA Braunschweigische
1

Maschinenbauanstalt AG, Germany


2
Indian Cane Power Ltd, India

Contact author: engineering@bma-de.com | icpldvg@yahoo.com

Abstract

In the cane sugar industry, Robert evaporators are generally considered the preferred evaporator design
because of the issues associated with the scaling of heating surfaces. An evaporator set concept has been
developed in collaboration with a supplier to utilise falling-film evaporators in the cane sugar industry in order
to benefit from the numerous advantages of this technology. In 2011, a new 5-effect evaporator set composed
entirely of falling-film evaporators was designed, supplied and commissioned for the Indian Cane Power
Limited (ICPL), Uttur, a sugar cane factory located in the State of Karnataka, India. The design targets for this
evaporator plant were smooth operation of falling-film evaporators in the cane sugar industry, considerable
reduction of the steam consumption of the sugar factory and clear increase of power export to the local
power supply network. The supplier BMA accompanied this project with the preparation of mass and energy
balances, process flow diagrams and process layout concepts. BMA also assisted with commissioning and
chemical cleaning of the plant.

Keywords: falling film evaporator, scaling, cleaning, non-condensables

Introduction production have been further reduced by shifting the bleedings


down to later evaporation effect and increasing the thick juice
Nowadays, cane sugar factories are not only companies that brix.
produce sugar from sugarcane, but are increasingly also defining Falling-film evaporators allow advanced steam-saving
themselves as sellers of by-products. One such by-product is the concepts to be implemented for sugar production. This publication
cogeneration and sale of surplus electricity shares the experience and results of a full evaporator set with
The cane sugar factory of Indian Cane Power Ltd (ICPL) in falling film evaporators in a cane sugar factory with particular
the federal state of Karnataka derives considerable economic view to scaling and non-condensable gases, which both have a
benefits from feeding electrical power into the local grid, and the distinct heat transfer reducing effect in falling-film evaporators.
company is attempting to increase their co-generation proceeds
by employing new technologies in sugar production and gaining Elements of the evaporation plant
surplus electricity from bagasse.
In order to increase their power yield, ICPL is trying to The evaporation plant with all five falling-film evaporators is
minimise the specific steam consumption in the sugar production designed for 7000 tonnes of sugarcane per day, the 3rd vapour
process. In ICPL’s original concept to increase cogeneration, being used for crystallisation. Each of the first three effects have
the evaporation plant was equipped with Robert and falling-film a surface area of 4000 m² (FFE1, FFE2, FFE3), while the last two
evaporators, and used continuously operating vacuum pans in effects have 1000 m² (FFE4, FFE5) (Figure 1). All evaporators are
the sugar house. of BMA’s 'Beta’evaporator design.
Since the new concept proved to be promising, the capacity Additional equipment complements the plant. This equipment
was, as a second step, increased with a new 5-effect evaporation includes a central condensate tank for gradual condensate
plant in 2011. The evaporation plant now entirely consists of expansion. Pumps for clear juice, juice circulation and thick juice
falling-film evaporators, and the steam requirements for sugar are installed.

604 International Sugar Journal | August 2014


Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
______________________________________________________________________________________

film evaporators in a cane sugar factory with particular view to scaling and non-condensable gases,
which both have a distinct heat transfer reducing effect in falling-film evaporators.
Elements of the evaporation plant
The evaporation plant with all five falling-film evaporators is designed for 7000 tonnes of
sugarcane per day, the 3rd vapour being used for crystallisation. Each of the first three effects have a
surface area of 4000 m² (FFE1, FFE2, FFE3), while the last two effects have 1000 m² (FFE4, FFE5)
(Figure 1). All evaporators are of BMA’s "Beta’evaporator design.
Figure 1. New falling-film evaporators and condensate tank during installation at ICPL These pumps ensure that the
evaporators are supplied with
the required amount of juice for
concentration. For better heat
utilisation, the clear juice is gradually
heated in heat exchangers before it enters
the first evaporator. Storage tanks and
feed tanks, as well as separate pumps are
available for chemical cleaning.
Measuring and control equipment and
a central process control system provide
for easy control of the complete system.

Special features of the


evaporation plant concept

ICPL conceived and implemented the


new evaporation plant in collaboration
with BMA. The basic conditions that
had to be considered were defined by
the classical front-end operations of a
cane sugar factory, which include liming,
clarification with the aid of flocculants,
and subsequently clear juice sulfitation.
The modern steam bleeding system
Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar
(FigureCane Technol., by
2) is characterised Vol.
the28,
fact2013
that
______________________________________________________________________________________
3rd effect vapour is used for crystallisation.
Fig. 1—New falling-film evaporators and condensate tank during installation
TheatrawICPL.
juice is heated with 5th effect
evaporators is always maintained, because wetting of the heating tubes with circulating juice is
Figure 2. New evaporation system of ICPL, with typical operating conditions
independent of the amount of clear juice that enters the system.
Additional equipment complements the plant. This equipment includes a central condensate
tank for gradual condensate expansion. Pumps for clear juice, juice circulation and thick juice are
installed.
These pumps ensure that the evaporators are supplied with the required amount of juice for
concentration. For better heat utilisation, the clear juice is gradually heated in heat exchangers
before it enters the first evaporator. Storage tanks and feed tanks, as well as separate pumps are
available for chemical cleaning.
Measuring and control equipment and a central process control system provide for easy
control of the complete system.
Special features of the evaporation plant concept
ICPL conceived and implemented the new evaporation plant in collaboration with BMA.
The basic conditions that had to be considered were defined by the classical front-end operations of
a cane
Fig.sugar
2—Newfactory, whichsystem
evaporation include liming,
of ICPL, withclarification withconditions.
typical operating the aid of flocculants, and
subsequently clear juice sulfitation. www.internationalsugarjournal.com 605
The heating tubes of the evaporators are easily accessible
The modern steam bleeding system (Figure 2) is characterised fromby
thethe
upper
facttube
that plate to
3rd effect
Falling-film evaporator plant for a cane sugar factory:
Presentation of the concept and operating results

Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
Figure 3. Daily crushing capacity and specific steam consumption
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Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
______________________________________________________________________________________
Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
______________________________________________________________________________________

Lehnberger, A. et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
______________________________________________________________________________________

Fig. 3—Daily crushing capacity and specific steam consumption.


Scaling Fig. 3—Daily crushing capacity and specific steam consumption.

A higher temperature gradient Scaling


in the different evaporators is an indicator of increasing
scaling during operation. The temperatureAgradient higher temperature
relative togradient in the different
the processing rate canevaporators
serve as ais an indicator of increasing
simple measure of intensifying scaling. scaling during operation. The temperature gradient relative to the processing rate can serve as a
As longFig. as 3—Daily
no changescrushing
simple
are made inmeasure
capacity
of intensifying
the heating
and system,
specific steam
scaling.
this value reflects the development of
consumption.
Fig. 3—Dailyheat
the reciprocal crushing
transfer capacity andAs
coefficient. specific
long as nosteam
changes consumption.
are made in the heating system, this value reflects the development of
Scaling
ScalingIn Figure 4, specific A higher
the reciprocal
temperature
temperature gradient heat
gradient
transfer
is in
shown coefficient.
for
the differenteachevaporators
falling-filmisevaporator
an indicator atof
ICPLincreasing
In Figure 4,The
for the firstth21 days of evaporation plant operation. specific
curve temperature
for the 3rdgradient is shown
evaporator effectforclearly
each falling-film evaporator at ICPL
vapour andA4 higher
shows that, after day temperature ofgradient in the different evaporators iscurve
an indicator ofa increasing
scaling during
effect vapour. operation. The temperature gradient relative
Scaling to the processing rate can
the serve as
3rd evaporator
10, the extentfor the first 21
vapour days
bleeding of from
evaporation plant
this effect operation.
was reduced Theand for
extra effect clearly
simple measure of intensifying scaling.
scaling during operation. The temperature gradient
The ‘Beta’
bleeding type
shifted to falling-film
the 2nd
effectevaporators
shows
instead. operate
that, after with
day 10, an
the extentrelative to the processing rate can serve
of vapour bleeding from this effect was reduced and as a
extra
independent juice circulation As longsystem.
as nobleeding
changes are
themade
Even ifshifted to the
clear injuice
2the
nd
heating
effect Asystem,
instead. this value reflects
higher temperature gradientthe development
in the of
different evaporators is an
simple
feed rate measure of intensifying
shouldthefluctuate,
reciprocal heat transfer
correct scaling.
coefficient.
operation of the different indicator of increasing scaling during operation. The temperature
evaporators As long maintained,
is always asInno changes
Figure are
4, specific
because madeof theinheating
temperature
wetting the heating
gradient is shown
gradient system,
for eachtothis
relative the value
falling-film reflects
evaporator
processing rate canatthe development
ICPL
serve as a simple of
for the firstis21 days of evaporation plantofoperation. The curve for the 3rd scaling.
evaporator effect clearly
the reciprocal heat
tubes with circulating juice
transfer coefficient.
independent of the amount clear measure of intensifying
juice that enters shows that, after day 10, the extent of vapour bleedingAsfrom
the system. longthis effect
as no was reduced
changes are madeandin extra
the heating system, this
In Figure
bleeding 4, specific
shifted to thetemperature
2 nd
effect instead.
The heating tubes of the evaporators are easily accessible gradient is shown for each falling-film
value reflects the development of the reciprocal evaporator at ICPL
heat transfer
rd
for the
from first tube
the upper 21 days
plate toofprovide
evaporation plant operation.
for easy inspection and, if The curve for the 3 evaporator effect clearly
coefficient.
shows that, after day 10, the extent of vapour bleeding
necessary, mechanical cleaning with high-pressure water.
from this effect was reduced and extra
In Figure 4, specific temperature gradient is shown for each
nd falling-film evaporator at ICPL for the first 21 days of evaporation
bleeding processing
Achieved shifted to the rate2and effect instead.
specific steam plant operation. The curve for the 3rd evaporator effect clearly
requirements shows that, after day 10, the extent of vapour bleeding from this
effect was reduced and extra bleeding shifted to the 2nd effect
The evaporation plant was supplied and commissioned in instead.
January 2012. Figure 3 is an overview of the crushing capacity Since each evaporator effect is affected by scaling, the
and specific steam consumption values that were recorded during specific temperature gradient that is required for operation of the
a period of three weeks. evaporation plant is on average twice as high after 21 days than
The intended crushing rate of 7000 tonnes of cane per day at that of the clean plant. This is particularly evident with the 1st, 2nd
33% steam on cane was maintained without any interruptions. and 4th effects.
As long as the evaporation plant was clean (the first 10 4 days of Scale on evaporator tubes is recognised as hampering the
operation), the recorded capacity was almost 10% higher than heat flow by a solid 4 layer with low heat conductivity. Further, the
the design value with a specific steam consumption 10% lower heat transfer coefficient of clean tubes drops with rising dry
than designed. substance content from the first to the last evaporator.
As the heating surfaces gradually become scaled, i.e. after The operation figures show approximately the same increase
the 18th day of operation, the capacity and specific steam of the specific temperature difference from clean to scaled
consumption values remained slightly below the rated values. tubes in all evaporators. This indicates that the scale thickness
After day 21, the evaporators were cleaned. 4increases from the first to the last effect, comparable to the drop
of heat transfer coefficients by rising dry substance content in

606 International Sugar Journal | August 2014


FigureLehnberger, A.ofetthe
4. Development al.specific temperature gradient in the fiveProc. Int. evaporators
falling-film Soc. SugarasCane Technol.,
a measure Vol.plotted
of scaling, 28, 2013
against______________________________________________________________________________________
time

clean tubes. The raw material and operating conditions generally have an
Fig. 4—Development
The scales that formed of the specific
in the different evaporator temperature
effects at effect on thegradient in theoffive
composition thefalling-film
scale specifically:
evaporators as a measure
ICPL were analysed. The main inorganic components in the of scaling, plotted against time.
• Composition of the processed cane, which is in its turn
scale are calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, influenced by the soil and climatic conditions,
Since
calcium sulfite and each
silicon evaporator
compounds; effect
how these areis affected by• scaling,
represented pH value of thethespecific temperature gradient that is
clear juice,
in the different evaporator effects is shown in Table 1. • Phospho-defecation for juice purification results in scale with a
required for operation of the evaporation plant is on average twice as high after 21 days than that of
The composition of the scale is typical of evaporators in the high phosphate content in the first effects,
the clean plant. This is particularly evident with the
cane sugar industry, where phospho-defecation with clear juice
1st, 2nd and 4th effects.
• Sulfitation for juice purification results in a high sulfite content
Lehnberger, A. et juice
Scale
sulfitation is used for al.on cleaning;
evaporator tubes
Dahi Ali is recognised asProc.
(1986). in the Int.
hampering Soc. Sugar
the heat
first effects. flowCane
by aTechnol.,
solid layerVol.
with28,
low2013
______________________________________________________________________________________
heat conductivity. Further, the heat transfer coefficient of clean tubes drops with rising dry
substance content from the first to the last evaporator.
Table 1 Scale from falling-film evaporators at ICPL: analysis of main inorganic components (February 2012)
The operation figures show approximately the same increase of the specific temperature
difference from clean
Effect FFEto1 scaled tubes in all
FFE 2 evaporators.
FFEThis
3 indicatesFFE
that4 the scale thickness
FFE 5
increases from
Calcium carbonate the first
2.8 % to the last effect,
3.1 % comparable to the
< 0.1 % drop of heat transfer
1.5 % coefficients
2.9 % by
rising dry substance content in clean tubes.
Calcium phosphate 42.8 % 6.6 % 3.5 % 3.0 % 1.4 %
The scales that formed in the different evaporator effects at ICPL were analysed. The main
Calcium sulphate 11.2 % 19.7 % 32.3 % 31.8 % 27.5 %
inorganic components in the scale are calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate,
Calcium sulphite
calcium sulfite and0.1 % compounds;
silicon 14.4 how
% these are< 0.1 %
represented 1.8 %
in the < 0.1 % effects
different evaporator
is shown in Table 1.
Silicate 0.4 % 9.3 % 21.1 % 34.9 % 31.8 %
Table 1—Scale from falling-film evaporators at ICPL: analysis of main
inorganic components (February 2012).
Scale samples
Effect FFE 1 FFE 2 FFE 3 FFE 4 FFE 5
Calcium carbonate 2.8 % 3.1 % < 0.1 % 1.5 % 2.9 %
Calcium phosphateSoft, thin
Scale structure 42.8 layer.
% Soft,6.6thin
% layer. 3.5 %thick
Hard, 3.0
Very% hard, thin 1.4Very
% hard and
Calcium sulphate Can easily
11.2 %be Can19.7
easily
% be layer.
32.3 Difficult
% layer.%Very
31.8 compact,
27.5 % thick
Calcium sulphite scraped
0.1 off.
% scraped
14.4 % off. to<remove
0.1 % difficult
1.8 % to layer.
< 0.1 % Very
mechanically. remove difficult to
Silicate 0.4 % 9.3 % 21.1 % 34.9 % 31.8 %
mechanically. remove
mechanically.

The composition of the scale is typical of evaporators in the cane sugar industry, where
www.internationalsugarjournal.com 607
phospho-defecation with clear juice sulfitation is used for juice cleaning; Dahi Ali (1986).
5
Falling-film evaporator plant for a cane sugar factory:
Presentation A.
Lehnberger, of the concept and operating results
et al. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol., Vol. 28, 2013
______________________________________________________________________________________

At ICPL,
• Scales are, the evaporation
in addition, plant
normally caused wasfollowing
by the chemicallyencrustations
cleaned not thatlater than abeen
have already 30 days operation
formed.
period.
factors: Alkaline cleaning (a combination of a 6% caustic soda solution with 70% on solids of
• caustic
Dissolvedsoda
salts,NaOH and 30%
whose solubility ondown
goes solids of sodium carbonate
as temperatures Chemical Nacleaning
2CO3 as well as an EDTA-based
scale
and thesoftener) was followed
sugar concentration go up,by acid cleaning
deposit (formic acid with corrosion inhibitor), always at
on the heating
surfaces, Chemically cleaning the evaporators for removing scale is to
temperatures near 100 °C. The exposure time was always 8 h, the concentration of the cleaning
• Suspended solids in the clear juice, which are not properly regularly restore the original condition of the evaporators. Any
solution being adapted to the scale thickness.
separated in the juice cleaning process, are caught on
Table 2 shows how successful cleaning was for the
remaining scale has to be removed with an additional mechanical
different evaporators.
Table 2 Heating tubes in the different evaporator effects; before and after chemical cleaning
Table 2—Heating tubes in the different evaporator effects; before and after chemical cleaning.
Effect Before cleaning After cleaning Cleaning effect
FFE 1 Very good.

Heating tubes are


clean.

FFE 2 Very good.

Heating tubes are


clean.

FFE 3 Good.

Heating tubes are


largely clean.

FFE 4 Poor.

Heating tubes still


covered with
considerable
encrustations.

FFE 5 Poor.

Heating tubes still


covered with
considerable
encrustations.

7
608 International Sugar Journal | August 2014
process in which a high-pressure water jet is used. effect calandria, which is what had been expected. The turbine
Hugot (1972), and later also Rein (2007), provided a general exhaust steam only contains traces of non-condensable gases
description of the experience that has to be considered when that cannot be quantified in detail.
cleaning evaporators: • FFE2: With the clear juice concentration in the 1st evaporator
• Calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) primarily occurs in the first two effect, dissolved gas is entrained into the calandria of the
evaporator effects; it forms soft scales that can fairly easily be second evaporator together with the 1st vapour. The amount
removed in a chemical process with caustic soda solution and that has to be discharged is about 10 g of non-condensable
diluted sulfamic acid. gases per tonne of cane that is processed.
• Calcium sulfate (CaSO4) forms in the last effects; it tends to • FFE3: With the clear juice concentration in the 2nd evaporator
form as a hard and compact scale that can only slowly be effect, dissolved gas continues to be entrained into the calandria
attacked with acids. of the third evaporator with the 2nd vapour. The amount that has
• Encrustations with silicon compounds in the last two effects are to be discharged is about 3 g of non-condensable gases per
very hard and difficult to remove even in cleaning processes in tonne of cane that is processed.
which alkaline-acid methods are combined. The non-condensable gases always collect in the calandrias
At ICPL, the evaporation plant was chemically cleaned at the bottom tube plate, from where they are discharged in
not later than a 30 days operation period. Alkaline cleaning (a a concentrated form. The reduced condensation temperature
combination of a 6% caustic soda solution with 70% on solids therefore only affects part of the evaporator heating area.
of caustic soda NaOH and 30% on solids of sodium carbonate By defining that the concentration of non-condensable gases
Na2CO3 as well as an EDTA-based scale softener) was followed should not exceed 1% (w/w) at the discharge nozzle, steam
by acid cleaning (formic acid with corrosion inhibitor), always at losses of less than 0.1% o.c. can be adjusted for each evaporator.
temperatures near 100 °C. The exposure time was always 8 h,
the concentration of the cleaning solution being adapted to the
scale thickness. Table 2 shows how successful cleaning was for Summary
the different evaporators.
While combined alkaline followed by acid cleaning produces In the cane sugar industry, too, falling-film evaporators allow
satisfactory results in effects 1 to 3, the scale in effects 4 and 5 steam-saving concepts to be implemented for sugar production.
are much more difficult to remove because of the silicate content. Because of the lower temperature gradient between heating
When the plant was cleaned for the first time, the heating tubes steam and vapour, scaling and non-condensable gases have a
were mechanically cleaned with high-pressure water. For the distinct heat transfer reducing effect in falling-film evaporators.
following cleaning periods, the chemical procedure was varied for Properly adapted cleaning procedures and adequate
the 4th and 5th effects in order to receive longer operation period discharging of non-condensable gases allow falling-film
between the cleaning cycles. evaporator plants to be operated with stable operation phases
• Finally, the cleaning effectiveness of 4th and 5th effect remains between cleaning intervals.
at lower level compared to 1st, 2nd and 3rd effect and limits The specific steam consumption for sugar production is between
the operation period of both last evaporators. In order to 30 and 33% o.c., and helps maximise the electric power generation
ensure continuous operation of the cane sugar factory, the old in comparison with concepts that have been in use so far.
evaporation set is operated during the cleaning cycle taking
into account a break down in crushing capacity to 6000 tonnes Acknowledgements
of cane per day.
The authors appreciate the kind support from and discussions
Removal of non-condensable gases from with colleagues and personnel at the cane sugar factory and the
evaporator calandrias supplier's enterprise.

To provide for an unobstructed heat transfer in evaporators, *Paper presented at the XXVIII Congress of the
non-condensable gases have to be removed from the evaporator International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, Sao
calandrias. Non-condensable gases reduce the condensation Paulo, Brazil, 24-27 June 2013 and published here with
temperature of the heating steam. the agreement of the Society.
The presence of these gases makes itself felt in particular
in falling-film evaporators which, unlike Robert evaporators, are
operated with a lower temperature gradient between heating References
steam and vapour. If the condensation temperature is not to be
influenced by the non-condensable gases by more than 0.25 K, Dahi Ali, S. (1986). Untersuchung des Mechanismus der Belagbildung
the concentration of these gases must remain below 1% (w/w). aus technischen Sucroselösungen bei der Wärmeübertragung [Survey
The amount of non-condensable gases was determined for on mechanism of scaling from technical sucrose solutions during heat
the calandrias of evaporator effects 1, 2 and 3 by measuring transfer]. Berlin, Techn. Univ., Thesis.
the quantity of non-condensables in the venting line of the Hugot, E. (1972). Handbook of Cane Sugar Engineering. Elsevier Science
evaporators: Ltd., 2nd edition.
• FFE1: No non-condensable gases were analysed for the 1st Rein, P. (2007). Cane Sugar Engineering. Verlag Bartens, Berlin.

www.internationalsugarjournal.com 609