The Steam and Condensate Loop
Heat Exchangers and Stall
Fig. 13.1.1 An air heater battery suffering the effects of stall
Steam inThe control valve is throttlingto meet a reduced heat loadSteam inthe top ofthe heaterFresh air inAir ductingWaterlogged condensate inthe bottom of the heaterThe steam trap goes cool or coldCooler air comingoff the bottomof the heaterHot air comingoff the top ofthe heaterCondensate returnLift and/or backpressure
What is meant by stall?
Stall is the reduction or the cessation of condensate flow from the heat exchanger, and occurswhen the pressure in the heat exchanger is equal to, or less than, the total backpressure imposedon the steam trap.Lower than expected pressure in a heat exchanger may occur as a result of any of the following circumstances:
The secondary fluid inlet temperature rising as a result of a falling heat load.
The secondary fluid flowrate falling as a result of a falling heat load.
The secondary fluid outlet temperature falling due to a lowering of the set point. As the control valve reduces the steam pressure to meet a falling heat load, the lack of differential pressureacross the steam trap causes condensate to waterlog the steam space, as shown in Figure 13.1.1.Due to applied safety factors and because heat exchangers are sold in pre-determined sizes, theyoften have more heating area than required. This has the effect of increasing the heat transfercapability of the exchanger above that required. It also means that the operating steam pressurewill be lower than in a comparable heat exchanger perfectly sized for the same duty. The result isthat less steam pressure is available to push out the condensate than may be expected. The steampressure in the heat exchanger is important because it influences the stall condition, which in turnaffects trap selection.Before any trap selection and sizing can take place, it is necessary to determine whether or not stallwill occur, and if it does, to what degree. If this is not done, it is likely that the heat exchanger willsuffer from waterlogging for some or all of its operating life. This, when it occurs, may not beimmediately recognised by the observer or operator, as operating performance might not be reducedin an oversized heat exchanger. However, waterlogging can have severe financial consequences,short and long term, unless the heat exchanger is designed to operate this way.
Consider an oversized heater battery operating as a frost coil and fitted with the wrong type (orsize) of trap, as in Figure 13.1.1.In this example, the frost coil is preheating chilled air before it passes on to the main heater battery.Though the frost coil is fulfilling its thermal expectations (because it is oversized for the duty), it willdo so with the bottom half of its coils waterlogged. Incoming cold air approaching 0
C (typicallyflowing at 3 m/s) passing over the coils can easily cause the water in them to freeze. This results inhaving to repair or replace the heater battery, either causing inconvenience or unexpected outlay.Waterlogging and freezing will not arise if the application is correctly designed.