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Flash Steam and Steam Condensates in Return Lines

Jayanthi Vijay Sarathy, M.E, CEng, MIChemE, Chartered Chemical Engineer, IChemE, UK
In power plants, boiler feed water is 4. Proper sizing of stem condensate return
subjected to heat thereby producing steam lines requires consideration of all
which acts as a motive force for a steam operating scenarios, chiefly start up,
turbine. The steam upon doing work loses shutdown and during normal running
energy to form condensate and is conditions. During plant start up, steam is
recycled/returned back to reduce the not generated instantly. As a result, the
required make up boiler feed water (BFW). condensate lines would be filled with
liquids which gradually turn two-phase
Recycling steam condensate poses its own
until reaching normal running conditions.
challenges. Flash Steam is defined as steam
During shutdown conditions, with time,
generated from steam condensate due to a
flash steam in the lines condense leaving
drop in pressure. When high pressure and
temperature condensate passes through behind condensates due to natural cooling.
process elements such as steam traps or 5. Condensate return line design must also
pressure reducing valves to lose pressure, the consider the effects of water hammering.
condensate flashes to form steam. Greater the When multiple steam return lines are
drop in pressure, greater is the flash steam connected to a header pipe that is routed
generated. This results in a two phase flow in to a flash drum, flash steam in the presence
the condensate return lines of cooler liquid from other streams would
condense rapidly to cause a water hammer.
General Notes
1. To size condensate return lines, the Fraction of Flash Steam
primary input data required to be Taking an example case, condensate flows
estimated is A. Fraction of Flash Steam and across a control valve from an upstream
condensate, B. Flow Rates of Flash Steam pressure of 5 bara to 2 bara downstream. The
& condensate, C. Specific volume of flash saturation temperature at 5 bara is 151.84 0C
steam & condensates, D. Velocity limits & 120.20C at 2 bara. The specific volume of
across the condensate return lines. water at 5 bara is 0.001093 m3/kg & 0.00106
m3/kg at 2 bara. The latent heat of saturated
2. Sizing condensate return lines also require
steam upon reaching 2 bara is 2201.56 kJ/kg.
lower velocity limits for wet steam since
liquid droplets at higher velocities cause The % flash steam generated is estimated as,
% 𝐹𝑙𝑎𝑠ℎ
internal erosion in pipes and excessive ℎ𝑓,1 = ℎ𝑓,2 + [ × ℎ𝑓𝑔 ] (1)
100
piping vibration. A rule of thumb, for
Where,
saturated wet steam is 25 – 40 m/s for
short lines of the order of a few tens of hf,1 = Upstream specific enthalpy [kJ/kg]
metres and 15 - 20 m/s for longer lines of hf,2 = Downstream specific enthalpy [kJ/kg]
the order of a few hundred metres. hf,g = Latent Heat of Saturated Steam [kJ/kg]
3. Condensate return lines work on the The upstream specific enthalpy, hf1 of
principle of gravity draining. To effectuate saturated water at 5 bara is 640.185 kJ/kg
this, drain lines are to be sloped downward and hf2 of 504.684 kJ/kg at 2 bara. The steam
at a ratio of atleast 1:100. specific volume at 2 bara is 0.8858 m3/kg.

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The fraction of flash steam is calculated as, The dynamic viscosity for calculating the
[640.185−504.684] Reynolds number can be chosen as the
% 𝐹𝑙𝑎𝑠ℎ = × 100 = 6.15% (2)
2201.56
viscosity of the liquid phase or a quality
Therefore the condensate fraction is, averaged viscosity, µh.
% 𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑑 = 100 − 6.15 = 93.85% (3)
𝜇ℎ = 𝑥𝜇𝑣 + [1 − 𝑥]𝜇𝐿 (8)
The steam volume is calculated as,
The homogenous model for gravitational
𝑚3
𝑉𝑆𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑚 = 0.8858 × 0.0615 = 0.05448 𝑘𝑔
(4) pressure drop is applicable for large drop in
pressures and mass velocities < 2000
The condensate volume is calculated as,
kg/m2.s, such that sufficient turbulence exists
𝑚3
𝑉𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑑 = 0.00106 × 0.9385 = 0.000995 𝑘𝑔 (5) to cause both phases to mix properly and
ensure the slip ratio (uv/uL) between the
Condensate Return Pipe Sizing
vapour and liquid phase is ~1.0. For more
To size the condensate return line, the bulk
precise estimates capturing slip ratios and
properties and mixture properties can be
varying void fraction, correlations such as
used to estimate the pipe size. It must be
Friedal (1979), Chisholm (1973) or Muller-
remembered that as the two-phase mixture
Steinhagen & Heck (1986) can be used.
travels through the pipe, there is a pressure
profile that causes the flash % to change The total pressure drop is the sum of the
along the pipe length. Additionally due to the static head, frictional pressure drop &
pipe inclination, a certain amount of static pressure drop due to momentum pressure
head is added to the total pressure drop. gradient.
To estimate the pipe pressure drop across the ∆𝑃𝑇 = ∆𝑃𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐 + ∆𝑃𝑚𝑜𝑚 + ∆𝑃𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑐 (9)
pipe length, a homogenous model for
modelling the two phase pressure drop can The Static Head [Pstatic] is computed as,
be adopted. The homogenous mixture acts as 𝐻×𝜌ℎ× 𝑔×𝑆𝑖𝑛𝜃
∆𝑃𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐 [𝑏𝑎𝑟] = (10)
a pseudo-fluid, that obeys conventional 105

design based on single phase fluids Where,


characterized by the fluid’s average
H = Pipe Elevation [m]
properties.
 = Pipe inclination w.r.t horizontal [degrees]
The mixture properties can be estimated as,
The pressure drop due to momentum
𝜌ℎ = 𝜌𝐿 [1 − 𝜀ℎ ] + 𝜌𝑣 𝜀ℎ (6) pressure gradient [Pmom] is,
Where,
𝑑𝑃 𝑑(𝑚⁄𝜌ℎ )
L = Condensate Density [kg/m3] = (11)
𝑑𝑍 𝑑𝑍

v = Steam Density [kg/m3] If the vapour fraction remains constant across


the piping, the pressure drop due to
h = Homogenous void fraction for a given
momentum pressure gradient is negligible.
steam quality [x] [-]
The frictional pressure drop is calculated as,
The homogenous void fraction [h] for a given
𝑓×𝐿×𝜌ℎ ×𝑉 2
steam quality [x] can be estimated as, ∆𝑃𝑓 = (12)
2𝐷
1
𝜀ℎ = 𝑢 1−𝑥 𝜌𝑣
(7) Where, P = Pressure drop [bar]
1+[ 𝑣 × × ]
𝑢𝐿 𝑥 𝜌𝐿
f =Darcy Friction Factor [-]
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L = Pipe Length [m] The Colebrook equation was developed
taking into account experimental results for
h = Mixture Density [kg/m3]
the flow through both smooth and rough pipe.
V = Bulk fluid Velocity [m/s] It is valid only in the turbulent regime for
D = Pipe Inner Diameter, ID [m] fluid filled pipes. Due to the implicit nature of
DVρh this equation it must be solved iteratively. A
Re = (13)
µh result of suitable accuracy for almost all
Where, µh = Dynamic Viscosity [kg.m/s] industrial applications will be achieved in less
than 10 iterations. For Reynolds number up
h = Homogenous Density [kg/m3]
greater than ~4000,
The Darcy Friction Factor [f] depends on the
1 ε⁄DH 2.51
Reynolds number follows the following = −2 log10 [ + ] (18)
√f 3.7 Re√f
criteria,
Homogenous Property Calculations
If Re <= 2100 ; Hagen Poiseuille’s Equation
The two phase mixture flows through the
If Re <= 4000 ; Churchill Equation condensate return line. The associated
If Re > 4000 ; Colebrook Equation density and viscosity of flash steam and
The Laminar Flow equation also referred to condensate at 2 bara and 120.20C is,
as the Hagen Poiseuille’s equation is, 𝜌𝑣 =
1
= 1.129
𝑘𝑔
(19)
0.8858 𝑚3
64
f= (14) 1 𝑘𝑔
Re 𝜌𝐿 = = 943.4 (20)
0.00106 𝑚3
The Churchill equation combines both the 𝑘𝑔
𝜇𝑣 = 0.000229 (21)
expressions for friction factor in both laminar 𝑚.𝑠

& turbulent flow regimes. It is accurate to 𝜇𝐿 = 0.0000128


𝑘𝑔
(22)
𝑚.𝑠
within the error of the data used to construct
The homogenous void fraction [h] for a slip
the Moody diagram. This model also provides
an estimate for the intermediate (transition) ratio (uv/uL) of 1.0, i.e., uv = uL, and a steam
region; however this should be used with quality [x] of 6.15% is,
caution. 𝜀ℎ =
1
1−0.0615 1.129 = 0.9821 (23)
1+[1× × ]
The Churchill equation shows very good 0.0615 943.4

agreement with the Darcy equation for The two phase homogeneous density is,
laminar flow, accuracy through the 𝜌ℎ = 943.4 × [1 − 0.9821] + [1.129 × 0.9821] (24)
transitional flow regime is unknown & in the
𝑘𝑔
turbulent regime a difference of around 0.5- 𝜌ℎ = 18.01 (25)
𝑚3
2% is observed between the Churchill
The two phase homogeneous viscosity is,
equation and the Colebrook equation. For
0.0615×1.28 [1−0.9821]×2.29
Reynolds number up to ~4000, 𝜇ℎ = + (26)
10−5 10−4
1⁄
8 12 1 12 𝑘𝑔
f = 8 [(Re) + 1.5
] (15) 𝜇ℎ = 0.000216 𝑚.𝑠 (27)
(A+B)

16 Pressure Drop Calculations


1
A = [2.457ln ( 7 0.9 ε
)] (16) The return condensate line from the control
( ) +0.27
Re D
valve discharge is sloped at a ratio of 1:100
16
B = [(
37,530
)] (17) for gravity drain. The layout of the return
Re
condensate line is,
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The condensate return line mixture fluid
velocity is calculated as,
1000 1
Q 4×[ ]×
18.01 3,600
V= = = 11.7 𝑚/𝑠 (30)
A π×[0.04094]2

The Reynolds number is estimated as,


ID×V×𝜌ℎ 0.04094×11.7×18.01
Re = = (31)
𝜇ℎ 0.000216

Figure 1. Condensate Return Line to Receiver Re = 39,971 (32)

The condensate receiver operates at 1.1 bara Since the Reynolds number is much higher
pressure. The mechanical details of the piping than 4,000, the flow is fully turbulent and the
for a flow rate of 1,000 kg/h, pipe size of 1.5”, friction factor is calculated based on
100m length & pipe roughness of 45.2 m is, Colebrook equation. The friction factor is
estimated as,
Table 1. Condensate Return Line Details
𝑓 = 𝑓𝐶𝑜𝑙𝑒𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑜𝑘 = 0.0251 (33)
Parameter Value Unit
The frictional pressure drop is now calculated
Mass Flow rate [m] 1000.0 kg/h
using the Darcy-Weisbach expression as,
Volumetric Flow [Q] 55.51 m3/h 0.0251×100×18.01×11.72
∆𝑃𝑓 = (34)
Pipe Length [L] 100 m 2×0.04094×105

Pipe Roughness [ε] 45.2 μm ∆𝑃𝑓 = 0.757 𝑏𝑎𝑟 (35)

Pipe Outer Diameter [OD] 48.3 mm The slope angle is calculated as,
1 180
Pipe SMYS [Carbon Steel] 30,000 psi 𝜃 = [𝑇𝑎𝑛−1 (100)] × = 0.6° (36)
𝜋
Pipe Design Pressure [DP] 7 bara
The static pressure drop [Pstatic] becomes
Pipe Wall Thickness [WT] 0.08 mm 18.01×9.81×[(1+5)×𝑠𝑖𝑛(0.6°)]
∆𝑃𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐 = (37)
Corrosion Allowance [CA] 1.0 mm 105

Calculated WT 1.08 mm ∆𝑃𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐 = 0.000106 𝑏𝑎𝑟 (38)

Selected WT 3.68 mm Therefore the total P with negligible P due


to momentum pressure gradient [Pmom].
Pipe Inner Diameter [ID] 40.94 mm
∆𝑃𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 = ∆𝑃𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐 + ∆𝑃𝑓 (39)
The pipe wall thickness chosen is based on
ASME/ANSI B36.10M and is calculated based ∆𝑃𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 = 0.757 + 0.000106 = 0.757 𝑏𝑎𝑟 (40)
on the hoop stress created by internal The condensate exit pressure is 2 – 0.757 =
pressure in a thin wall cylindrical vessel as, 1.243 bara which is higher than the receiver’s
DP×OD
48.3
[7×14.5]×[ ] operating pressure of 1.1 bara.
WT = = 25.4
× 25.4 (28)
2×SMYS 2×30,000 References
WT = 0.08𝑚𝑚 (29) 1. “Engineering Data Book III”, Ch 13, Two
Adding CA of 1 mm, the WT becomes 1.08 Phase Pressure Drop, Wolverine Tube, Inc.
mm. Based on ASME/ANSI B36.10M, the 2. “Steam Handbook”, Dr. Ian Roberts, Philip
selected WT is 3.68mm. The inner diameter Stoor, Michael Carr, Dr. Rainer Hocker,
calculated for the selected WT is 40.94 mm. Oliver Seifert, Endress+Hauser
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Appendix A

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