Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 17

Basic Desuperheater Types

Desuperheaters
The simplest type of desuperheater is an unlagged section of pipe, where heat can be radiated
to the environment. However, apart from the obvious risk of injury to personnel from such a hot
item of plant, and the expensive energy wastage, this approach does not adjust to compensate
for changes in the environmental conditions, steam temperature or steam flowrater.

Several designs of desuperheater are available and it is recommended that the following
properties be considered when sizing and selecting a suitable station for a given application:
• Turndown ratio - ‘turndown’ is used to describe the range of flowrates over which the
desuperheater will operate, as shown in Equation 4.2.1.

This is an important parameter, as any variation in inlet pressure, temperature or flowrate will
cause a variation in the requirement of cooling liquid.
In general, the two turndown values may be specified for a particular desuperheater:
Steam turndown ratio - This reflects the range of steam flowrates that the device can effectively
desuperheat.
Cooling water turndown ratio - This reflects the range of cooling flowrates that can be used.
Although this directly affects the steam turndown ratio, the relationship depends on the
temperatures of the superheated steam, the cooling water and the resulting desuperheated
steam. Equation 15.1.1 is the mass/heat balance equation for this application:

It should be noted that the steam and water flowrates are directly proportional to each other; the
constant of proportionality ‘k’ depends on the enthalpies of the superheated steam, the cooling
water and the required desuperheated steam.

If the required turndown cannot be achieved using a single desuperheater, two desuperheaters
can be installed in parallel, with operation switching from one to another; or both can be in
operation depending on steam demand.
It should be noted that the desuperheater itself is only one part of a desuperheating station,
which will include the necessary control system for correct operation.
• Operating pressures and temperatures.
• Steam and water flowrate.
• Amount of superheat before, and amount of desuperheated steam required after, the process.
• The water pressure available (a booster pump may be required).
• The required accuracy of the final temperature.
• In the case of in-line desuperheaters, the distance travelled by the steam before complete
desuperheating has occurred is also an important consideration. This is referred to as the
absorption length.
The following Sections include descriptions of the common types of desuperheater available,
their limitations and typical applications.

Indirect contact desuperheaters


Tube bundle type desuperheaters

This type of desuperheater (Figure 15.2.2) consists of a heat exchanger, typically a shell and
tube, with superheated steam on one side, and the cooling medium on the other.
The shell of the first heat exchanger (containing the cooling water) is fixed at both ends on the
inlet side, whereas on the outlet side, it is fixed at the bottom and open at the top. The floating
head allows the pressure in the two sections of the shell to equalise.
The cooling medium is water at saturation temperature and pressure. As superheated steam
enters the first and then the second set of tubes, it gives up heat to the water, some of which
will be evaporated by this addition of energy. Any evaporated cooling water passes through the
floating head and will accumulate in the outlet side of the shell. It then passes through the open
end of the shell where it is mixed with the desuperheated steam.

Advantages:

1. Turndown is only limited by the controls that are fitted.


2. This design is capable of producing desuperheated steam to within 5°C of the saturation
temperature.
3. High maximum operating temperatures and pressures, typically around 60 bar and 450°C.
4. Fast response.

Disadvantages:

1. Bulky - because there are now a number of in-line devices available, they have been largely
superseded.
2. Cost.
3. An important concern with this type of desuperheater is the efficiency of the heat exchange
process. The build up of air or scale films on the heat exchange surface can act as an extremely
effective barrier to heat transfer.

Applications:

1. Those applications that experience wide variations in load.

Direct contact desuperheaters


Water bath type desuperheater

This is the simplest form of direct contact desuperheater. The superheated steam is injected
into a bath of water. This additional heat will cause saturated steam to evaporate from the
surface of the bath. A pressure controller maintains a constant pressure in the vessel, and
hence the temperature and pressure of the saturated steam in the downstream pipe.

Since the superheated steam has more energy per unit mass than the saturated steam, more
steam will be evaporated than actually enters the desuperheater. Consequently, the water level
will fall and therefore provision must be made to maintain this level. This usually requires a
pump of similar design to a boiler feedwater pump, as the water must be pumped against the
vessel pressure.
A good non-return valve is required in the superheated steam supply to avoid any water from
the bath being drawn into the superheated steam system should the pressure in the
superheated main drop.

Advantages:

1. Simple
2. Steam is produced at saturation temperature.
3. Steam with a dryness fraction of 0.98 can be produced.
4. Turndown is only limited by the controls that are fitted.
Disadvantages:

1. Bulky.
2. Not practical for high temperatures.

Applications:

1. Wide variations in the flowrate.


2. Where no residual superheat can be tolerated.

Water spray desuperheating


This type of desuperheating represents the vast majority of desuperheating applications. In
water spray desuperheaters, superheated steam is passed through a section of pipe fitted with
one or more spray nozzles. These inject a fine spray of cooling water into the superheated
steam, which causes the water to be converted into steam, reducing the quantity of superheat.
The cooling water may be introduced into the superheated steam in a number of ways;
consequently, there are a number of different types of water spray desuperheater.
Despite this, most water spray desuperheaters are affected by the following factors:
• Particle size - The smaller the water particle size, the greater the ratio of surface area to
mass, and the higher the rates of heat transfer. Since the water is being directly injected into the
moving superheated steam, the smaller the particle size, the shorter the distance required for
heat exchange to take place.
The water is broken into small particles using either a mechanical device (such as a variable or
fixed orifice nozzle) or steam atomising nozzles.
• Turbulence - As the flow within the pipeline becomes more turbulent, the individual entrained
water particles reside longer in the desuperheater, allowing for greater heat transfer. In addition,
turbulence encourages the mixing of the cooling water and the superheated steam. Increased
turbulence results in a shorter distance being required for complete desuperheating to occur.
Turbulence can be created in two ways:
Pressure drop across the nozzle - Subjecting the cooling water to a higher pressure drop will
increase its velocity and induce greater turbulence.
Velocity - By increasing the overall velocity of the water and steam mixture, the amount of
turbulence is inherently increased. The increase in velocity is usually achieved by creating a
restriction in the steam path, which further generates turbulence by vortex shedding.
In addition to these high velocities, if poor piping design practices are used, the speed of the
superheated steam could in theory approach Mach 1. At such speeds a number of problems
would occur (including the generation of shock waves). However, this would be far in excess of
the velocities used in good piping design. Typical velocities of steam entering a desuperheater
should be around 40 to 60 m/s.
• Cooling water flowrate - The rate at which cooling water can be added to the superheated
steam is affected by a number of factors, which are related by Equation 4.2.11:

Bearing in mind that C and g are constants, reviewing Equation 4.2.11 shows that only two
factors can be manipulated to alter the cooling water flowrate, qv:
Changing the pressure drop over the orifice (nozzle), h - Expressing flowrate as a function
of pressure drop over the nozzle:

This means that if, for example, flow is increased by a factor of 5, the available pressure must
increase by a factor of 52 = 25. The effect of this relationship is to severely hamper the turndown
ratio.
In addition to affecting the cooling water flowrate, there are two other important considerations
when determining the required cooling water pressure:
1. The cooling water pressure must be greater than the superheated steam pressure at the
point of injection.
2. The greater the pressure drop across the nozzle, the better the atomisation of the cooling
water.
Changing the area of the orifice, A - Expressing flowrate as a function of the area of the orifice:
V A
This direct relationship means that if, for example, flow is to be increased by a factor of 5, the
available area must also increase by a factor of 5. This change may simply be achieved by an
orifice, which has the ability to change in area (see Figure 15.2.4), or alternatively by altering
the number of orifices passing the coolant.

• Thermal sleeves - Careful control of the spray is required to ensure that the water does not
fall out of suspension as this can result in thermal stresses being generated in the pipeline and
cracking may occur. However, in some cases, an inner thermal sleeve can be used to provide
protection from this.

The thermal sleeve also allows the circulation of superheated steam around the annular area
between the sleeve and the inside diameter of the pipe. This provides a hot surface upon which
the injected water can evaporate, as opposed to the walls of the desuperheater, which are
inevitably cooler.

Water spray type desuperheaters


Single point radial injection spray desuperheaters

The simplest method of injecting cooling water is to introduce a nozzle through the pipe wall.
The cooling water particles are sprayed across the flow of the superheated steam. The quantity
of cooling water injected is controlled by varying the position of the valve in the centre of the
nozzle.

Advantages:

1. Simple in operation.
2. Cost effective.
3. Minimum steam pressure drop.

Disadvantages:

1. Low turndown ratio, typically a maximum of 3:1 on both steam and cooling water flow.
2. Desuperheated steam temperature can only be reduced to 10°C above saturation
temperature.
3. Longer absorption length than the steam atomising type.
4. Most prone to cause erosion damage to the internal pipework. This can be overcome by the
use of a thermal sleeve.
5. Limited pipe sizes.

Applications:

1. Constant steam load.


2. Constant steam temperature.
3. Constant coolant temperature.
All of which mean a relatively constant cooling water requirement.

Multiple point radial injection spray desuperheaters

This is a progression of the single point radial injection spray desuperheater. Cooling water is
sprayed in from a number of orifices around the perimeter of the pipe.
Advantages:
1. The pressure of the cooling liquid is less than that in the single point version; therefore, it is
not necessary to use a thermal sleeve.
2. The absorption length is shorter compared with that of the single point version due to better
mixing of the water and the superheated steam. The absorption length is still significantly longer
than other types of water spray desuperheater.
Other advantages, disadvantages and applications are similar to those of single point radial
injection spray desuperheaters.

Axial injection spray desuperheaters


This is also a simple in-line injection spray desuperheater, but the point of injection is moved to
the axis of the pipeline. The cooling water is injected into the steam flow via one or more
atomising nozzles (see Figure 15.2.8). The unit usually employs a thermal sleeve.

Axial injection of the cooling water improves the mixing of the water and the superheated steam
by two methods:
1. As the water is injected along the centre of the pipeline, it will be more evenly distributed
throughout the superheated steam.
2. The cooling water delivery pipe that is inserted in the pipeline acts as an obstruction, creating
additional turbulence at the point of water injection due to vortex shedding.
A modification of this basic arrangement involves turning the nozzle so that the cooling water is
sprayed upstream, against the steam flow. The high velocity of the superheated steam reverses
the spray water flow pattern and sends it back through a mixing chamber. This achieves more
efficient mixing of the water and steam over a short absorption length.

Advantages:

1. Simple in operation.
2. No moving parts.
3. Cost effective across the entire range of sizes.
4. Minimal steam pressure drop.

Disadvantages:

1. Low turndown ratio, typically a maximum of 3:1 on both steam and cooling water flow.
2. Desuperheated steam temperature can only be reduced to 10°C above saturation
temperature.
3. Longer absorption length than the steam atomising type, but less than the radial type
desuperheaters.
4. Most prone to cause erosion damage to the internal pipework. This can be overcome by the
use of a thermal sleeve.

Applications:

1. Constant steam load.


2. Constant steam temperature.
3. Constant coolant temperature.
All of which mean a relatively constant cooling water requirement.

Multiple nozzle axial injection


desuperheaters
Rather than a single nozzle, the multiple nozzle axial injection desuperheater provides a
number of nozzles across the flow of superheated steam. This gives good dispersion of the
water droplets. There are three main types of multiple nozzle axial injection desuperheater:
1. Fixed area type - All the nozzles are open when the desuperheater is operating, and the
cooling water is regulated by a spray water control valve.

2. Variable spray type - The downstream temperature determines the number of exposed
nozzles. Cooling water enters the desuperheater through the water jacket to the sealing area
above the disc (see Figure 15.2.12). When an increase in the downstream steam temperature is
detected by the associated temperature control system, the actuator moves the stem down,
progressively exposing more nozzles. When the demand for the cooling water changes, the
stem and disc arrangement moves up and down as required. This has the effect of changing the
overall orifice area.

3. Spring-assisted type - This is essentially a combination of the two previous types. Instead of
the stem and disc arrangement being controlled by an actuator, the spring-assisted type
contains a spring-loaded flow plug, which moves in response to a change in the differential
pressure between the coolant and the superheated steam. The moving plug changes the
number of open nozzles, thereby adjusting the flow into the main pipeline. In addition, the
cooling water is regulated by a spray water control valve.
Being able to control both the pressure and flow of the cooling water enables accurate control
over the amount of water injected into the superheated steam. This type does, however, require
a high cooling water pressure.

Advantages:
1. Turndown ratios of up to 8:1 are possible with the fixed area type, up to 9:1 with the spring
assisted type and 12:1 for the variable area type.
2. Better dispersion of the water droplets means that the absorption length is less than that of
single nozzle devices.
3. Minimal steam pressure drop.

Disadvantages:

1. The desuperheated steam temperature can only be reduced to 8°C above saturation
temperature.
2. Longer absorption length than the steam atomising type.
3. Most prone to cause erosion damage to the internal pipework, if a thermal sleeve is not used.
4. Not suitable for small pipe sizes.
5. Requires high pressure cooling water (particularly true of the spring assisted type).
6. Variable area and spring assisted types can be expensive.

Applications:

1. Applications with a requirement for a higher turndown ratio than that offered by single nozzle
devices, but where the expense of more sophisticated devices is not justified.
2. Constant steam load.
3. Constant steam temperature.
4. Constant coolant temperature.
All of which require a relatively constant desuperheating load.

Other Types of Desuperheater


Venturi type desuperheaters
The venturi type desuperheater employs a restriction in the superheated steam pipeline to
create a region of high velocity and turbulence where the cooling water is injected. This helps to
establish intimate contact between the steam and the cooling water, improving the efficiency of
the desuperheating process.

The desuperheating process is carried out in two separate phases:


1. The first stage of desuperheating occurs in the internal diffuser. A portion of the steam is
accelerated in the internal nozzle and the velocity is used to atomise the incoming water. The
cooling water is injected into the diffuser through a number of small jets, which helps to further
atomise the water.
2. In the second stage of desuperheating, a saturated mist or fog emerges from the internal
diffuser into the main diffuser where it mixes with the remainder of the steam.
The main diffuser itself creates a restriction to the remainder of the steam thereby increasing its
velocity in this region. Thus, there is a region of turbulence where the second stage of
desuperheating occurs. This mechanism minimises cooling water contact with the sidewalls,
combining maximum desuperheating effectiveness with minimum pipe wear.
The steam flow turndown ratio does vary depending on the actual conditions, but 4:1 is typical.
In applications where there is a dedicated pressure reducing station upstream of the
desuperheater, the available steam turndown can be improved to over 5:1.
The cooling water turndown is usually satisfactory for most plant applications, with 20:1 possible
depending on the actual operating conditions. At cooling water turndowns beyond 20:1, the
need for a cooling water booster pump also increases.
Venturi type desuperheaters can be installed either horizontally or vertically with the steam flow
upwards. When installed vertically, better mixing occurs which can result in an improved
turndown ratio of over 5:1. The main problem with this is ensuring that there is enough vertical
space to install the desuperheater, as it will be more than several metres long.
A modification to the standard venturi type desuperheater is the attemperator desuperheater.
Thisessentially uses the same method of injecting the coolant into the superheated steam, but
does not utilise the venturi shaped mixing section. Attemperator desuperheaters are used in
place of the venturi type where there is sufficient space available to install a long absorption
pipe, especially where slightly higher turndown is required, but where the additional cost of a
steam atomising type cannot be justified.
The term attemperator is also generally used to refer to a desuperheater that is installed after a
boiler or superheater to give accurate control over temperature and pressure.

Advantages:

1. Steam turndown ratios of up to 5:1 and cooling water turndowns of over 20:1.
2. Simple operating principle (although more complex than the spray type).
3. No moving parts.
4. Accurate control of desuperheated steam temperature; typically within 3°C of the saturation
temperature.
5. Suitable for operation under steady or variable steam conditions.
6. There is reduced wear in the downstream pipework compared to a spray type desuperheater,
as the cooling water emerges as a mist rather than as a spray.

Disadvantages:

1. Pressure drop is incurred (although this is generally small and within acceptable limits).
2. The absorption length is still longer than the steam atomising type; so more space is required
for installation.
3. A minimum cooling water flow rate is required.

Applications:

1. Suitable for most general plant applications, except where high turndowns on steam flowrate
are required.

Steam atomising desuperheaters


Steam atomising desuperheaters employ a high-pressure auxiliary steam supply to atomise the
incoming cooling water.
The desuperheating process occurs in two stages:
1. The first stage occurs in the diffuser, where the cooling water is atomised by the high velocity
atomising steam. The auxiliary steam pressure needs to be at least 1.5 times the desuperheater
inlet pressure, typically with a minimum pressure of 4 bar a. The flowrate of atomising steam is
normally between 2% and 5% of the mainline flow. The use of atomising steam means that the
cooling water can be introduced into the diffuser at lower pressures. In general, the only
requirement is that the pressure must be greater than that of the superheated steam.
2. In the second stage, a wet mist or fog emerges from the diffuser where it mixes with the
mainline steam in the pipeline. Evaporation occurs in the pipework immediately downstream of
the desuperheater, where the remaining water droplets remain suspended in the steam and
gradually evaporate.
Using steam to atomise the cooling water produces finely atomised water particles, which
ensures efficient heat transfer and evaporation.
This arrangement allows for high steam turndown ratios; ratios of up to 50:1 are possible. It
should however be noted that at turndowns greater than 20:1, low pipeline velocities may result
in the ‘settling out’ of water, caused by the decreasing momentum of the water droplets. In this
case, a drainage and recycle arrangement is required (see Figure 15.3.3). If such a recycle
arrangement cannot be fitted, the turndown ratio will be reduced.
The typical installation of a steam atomising desuperheater is illustrated in Figure 15.3.3.
Advantages:

1. Good turndown – steam turndown of up to 50:1 is possible, but operation and control is most
efficient for a turndown of around 20:1.
2. Very compact – with a short absorption length relative to the other types.
3. Pressure drop is negligible.
4. The cooling water used can be cold, as the atomising steam will preheat it.
5. Low approach to saturation temperature – typically to within 6°C of saturation temperature.

Disadvantages:

1. Auxiliary high pressure steam is required.


2. The amount of extra equipment required and the additional pipework is relatively expensive.

Applications:

1. Suitable for applications where the steam flowrates will vary widely, for example in combined
pressure reducing and desuperheating stations.

Variable orifice desuperheater


The variable orifice desuperheater controls the flow of cooling water into the mainline by a free-
floating plug placed in the flow.
The variable orifice desuperheater consists of a plug that moves up and down in a cage. This
movement is limited by a travel stop incorporated into the top of the cage. Its position within the
cage depends on the flow of superheated steam in the mainline.
Under no-flow conditions, the plug rests on a seat ring, surrounded by an annulus of cooling
water. When superheated steam starts to flow through the desuperheater, the plug is forced off
the seat by the steam pressure. As the flow increases, the plug is lifted further away from the
seat, thereby creating a variable orifice between the plug and the seat. The increase in velocity
between the plug and the seat creates a pressure drop across the annulus, drawing water into
the superheated steam flow.
The low pressure drawing the water into the pipeline also helps to atomise the water into a fine
mist. The turbulence associated with the change in velocity and direction of the steam assists in
mixing the coolant and the steam. Vortices created immediately upstream of the plug ensure
that the coolant is completely mixed with the steam.
The efficient mixing of the coolant and the superheated steam within the desuperheater body
means that the absorption length is relatively short, and the temperature sensing element may
be installed within 4 or 5 metres of the desuperheater body.

The rate at which cooling water enters the annulus is varied by a control valve that is regulated
as a function of the downstream temperature.
The plug is typically fitted with a spring-loaded plunger, which increases the friction between the
plug and the cage, effectively damping the plug’s movement. Given a fixed pressure drop
across the valve this effectively enables the amount of cooling water to be varied when mixing
with the flow of superheated steam.
The plunger also provides stability under light load conditions.
The fact that the coolant is not sprayed into the desuperheater, and that virtually all the
desuperheating occurs in the body of the device, means that there is little wear of associated
pipework or the desuperheater itself. Therefore, thermal sleeves are unnecessary.
A typical installation of a variable orifice desuperheater is illustrated in Figure 15.3.6
Advantages:

1. The turndown is only limited by the cooling water control valve, and steam turndown ratios of
up to 100:1 can be readily achieved.
2. Low approach to saturation temperature – typically to within 2.5°C of saturation temperature.
3. Short absorption length.
4. The cooling water pressure need only be 0.4 bar superior to the superheated stem pressure.
5. Superheated steam velocities may be very low.

Disadvantages:

1. Significant pressure drop across the desuperheater.


2. Relatively higher cost.
3. The desuperheater has to be installed vertically. If a bend is located immediately after the
outlet, it must have a long radius.

Applications:

1. Suitable for applications where the steam flowrate will vary widely and a relatively high
pressure drop is not critical.
2. Where the steam velocity is likely to be very low.

Combined pressure control valve and


desuperheater
In some instances, it is convenient to integrate the pressure control valve and the
desuperheater into one unit.
The pressure reducing aspect is similar to a standard pressure reducing valve. Although a
number of different designs of pressure reducing valve could be used, angle or globe
configurations are most commonly used. In addition, the valve is typically of the balanced type
(with either a balancing plug or a balanced bellows arrangement) to reduce the required
actuator force.
As accurate pressure control is usually important in desuperheater applications, pneumatic
actuation of the valve is virtually universal, and so is the use of positioners. In addition, because
quite substantial pressure drops may be involved, the manufacturer will often offer a noise
reduction trim for the pressure control valve (see Figure 15.3.8).

The desuperheating aspect will also vary depending on the application, but it is common for a
multiple point radial injection type to be used. The mixing of the coolant and the steam is
improved due to the high velocity of the superheated steam after the pressure-reducing valve.
Radial injection type desuperheaters have the advantage that they can be easily combined with
the pressure reducing valve to produce a single unit.
In some combined pressure control and desuperheating stations, there are a number of baffle
plates installed immediately after the desuperheating station. These plates induce further
pressure drop and improve mixing of the steam and coolant.
Combined pressure control valve and desuperheating stations are commonly used in turbine
bypasses, where the valve dumps the flow directly to the condenser or to ‘cold reheat’.

Comparison of types of desuperheater


Table 15.3.1 compares the typical performance and installation characteristics of the different
desuperheater types. It should be noted that these properties may vary between different
manufacturers, and indeed, they may depend on the particular operating conditions of the
system.