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Part II. Practical Aspects of Carbon Dioxide Installations
Initial evaporation, %
Evaporation rate, % of R508A
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 R404A R410A R507A R407C R508A R143a R41 R116 R125 R32 R1270 R290 R218 CO2 NH3 R22 R23
1. A leakage above the liquid surface.
Initial liquid level
2a. If the CO2 temperature drops to below the triple point, dry ice can form and sink to the bottom. 2b. Dry ice can then destroy pumps and block valves.
2c. In a tank with a horizontal exit, both vortex formation and the risk for dry ice entering the pipe are decreased. 3a. A leak below the liquid surface. 3b. If the leakage is here, the complete tank is drained, except for CO2, see text.
Figure 14. Leakage of refrigerants and the formation of dry ice in CO2.
The diagram is valid for a leakage above the liquid level. The absolute evaporation rate depends on insulation, refrigerant mass, shape of the vessel, etc. See also text.
3. Some design considerations for carbon dioxide installations.
3.1. Corrosion by carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide itself is inert to practically all metals and elastomers but some care should be taken: ♦ Metals. When CO2 is mixed with water, the carbonic acid, H2CO3, is formed. This is corrosive, especially if oxygen is present as well. Stainless steels are not affected but carbon steel, brass, copper and copper alloys are. The corrosive behaviour is impaired by the addition of corrosive breakdown products of the oil. Stainless steel PHEs (PHEs) have not had any problem with corrosion due to CO2, but there are cases of compressor breakdowns due to too high water content. Thus, some precaution should be taken, §3.9. ♦ Oil. The oil is not chemically affected by CO2 but CO2 dissolves in some oils and at a pressure decrease there will be foaming. Oil can deteriorate by wear and tear and high temperature and form corrosive products. Water and oxygen form corrosive organic acids with oil decomposition products. ♦ Elastomers. CO2 will not corrode or affect these chemically but if high pressure CO2 diffuses into an elastomer it can sometimes break this when the pressure is released and the elastomer removed. somewhat devious though. Ice can get stuck, tighten the leak and then release when the pressure increases. The positive aspect of it is that a large part of the filling might remain even for a leak at the bottom of a vessel. Carbamate formation. A special case is the formation of ammonium carbamate when CO2 leaks into the ammonia side in a cascade condenser/evaporator. As the CO2 pressure is practically always higher than the ammonia pressure, the leak is into the ammonia side. Ammonium carbamate is corrosive and abrasive, i.e. it can destroy a compressor. It can be detected as white powder in the vapour after a direct expansion evaporator, e.g. by breaking a light circuit. The detection can be rapid and if action is taken quickly compressor breakdown can be avoided. Carbamate dissolves readily in water and it can be decomposed to ammonia and CO2 by heating to above 60 ° The temperature has to be C. kept until the gases have left the system otherwise they will recombine. Welded or semi welded PHEs are safer than HEs where the CO2 channel is entirely surrounded by ammonia channels. The reason is that leakage through a weld of a PHE is to the exterior. Flooded flow evaporator are probably safer as the carbamate is dissolved in the liquid ammonia and rendered relative harmless what regards the compressors. It will accumulate in the separator-evaporator loop. The detection will be more complicated though.
A leak in a plant can be of either two types, figure 14: ♦ A leak at a vessel or its adjoining pipes above the liquid level, figure 14.1. There is an initial flashing down to the ambient pressure followed by an isobaric evaporation of the refrigerant. In a well insulated vessel the evaporation is slow. It is proportional to the temperature difference and inverse proportional to latent heat. Ammonia has very little initial evaporation and the evaporation rate is slow, i.e. it takes along time to empty a vessel. R508 leaves the vessel quickly. This is due to large initial evaporation, large t to the outside and low latent heat. ♦ A leak below the liquid level In a leak (figure 14.3a) is between the lowest point and the liquid level, the vessel drains to the leak, followed by evaporation. If the leak is at the lowest point (figure 14.3b), the vessel drains completely. Carbon dioxide is special. It solidifies, when it reaches the triple point and remains solid, i.e. it will not drain from a vessel. The initial evaporation remains though. The behaviour is
3.3. Carbon dioxide close to the triple point.
If a vessel with liquid CO2 is operating close to the triple point (-55.6 °C), a sudden pressure decrease could cause the temperature to drop below this. Dry ice then forms and as this it heavier than the liquid it sinks to the bottom of the vessel. A lump of dry ice can then move along a pipe to e.g. a circulation pump or a valve and destroy or block this. If the exit from a vessel feeding a circulation pump is hydraulically correctly executed in order to prevent vortices, this danger is substantially decreased, see figure 14.2. A vortex free exit should be horizontal. In a vertical exit, at the bottom of a vessel, vortices can easily form especially in CO2 with its low viscosity. There are vortex breakers inserted at the exit but the author is not fond of inserts in vessels, which cannot be opened for inspection. Note also, dry ice is heavier than liquid CO2 thus freeze damages as in water circuits will not occur. See also figure 11 for pressure increase in enclosed spaces.
1. The emergency valve opens, no other actions. 2. Managed release of CO2.
5. At least two of critical components.
3. Emergency cooler unit.
4. A liquid receiver design for the vapour pressure at maximum ambient temperature.
Figure 15. Plant shut down.
3.4. Plant shut-down.
In case of a compressor shut down, the pressure in the CO2 circuit starts to increase. There are some different responses to this, see figure 15 as well: 1. No response, the emergency valves release CO2 when the set pressure is reached. The CO2 is then replaced. 2. A managed release of CO2, similar to 1 but all pressures and temperatures are carefully monitored. This can mean a saving of the lost CO2. 3. A special emergency cooling unit starts and condenses the vaporized CO2 4. Pump the liquid CO2 to a vessel, which can stand the highest possible pressure.. 5. The HP system is built with a redundancy e.g. at least two each of the critical components. 4 & 5 can obviously only be used in case of planned shut down but not in case of a power outage.
3.5. Condensate subcooler/vapour superheater.
Sometimes subcooling of the condensate is done by superheating the suction vapour; mainly for three reasons: ♦ Capacity increase. When the condensate is subcooled less refrigerant evaporates after the expansion valve, i.e. a higher liquid fraction remains. As it is the liquid, which gives the capacity, the capacity increases. On the other hand, the vapour density at the suction inlet decreases. As the volume flow is constant, the mass flow decreases, which decreases the capacity. Less refrigerant circulates but with a higher liquid fraction. The capacity thus depends on the balance between increase of the liquid content and decrease of the total flow. At the AC temperature program, 2/40 ° some refrigC, erants – e.g. R404A and R507A – gain, others – especially NH3 and R22, loose and the capacity decreases. In the temperature program studied here, -40/-10 ° all C, except the unimportant R116 and R508A, loose, but the decrease is for most refrigerants unimportant. ♦ Drying of the oil. Some compressor manufacturers require that the suction inlet superheat is in the order of 18 to 25 K in order to evaporate as much refrigerant as possible from the oil droplets. Especially R1270 and R1290 but also carbon dioxide are very soluble in the oil, which otherwise might enter the compressor diluted. ♦ The superheat is controlled after the condensate subcooler/vapour superheater, i.e. the evaporator can run with little superheat or even wet. This increases the evaporator performance. Two methods may be used, see figure 16: 1. A dedicated condensate subcooler/vapour superheater is used for larger superheats. PHEs are suitable but in case of some low pressure refrigerants, the low vapour density causes to many channels as the number of channels are controlled by the pressure drop. Carbon dioxide with its large vapour density does not have this problem. 2. If the site permits, the vapour and condensate lines could run together inside the insulation. This is a cheap way of getting a sufficient superheat for oil drying but it should not be used to control the superheat at the suction inlet as the response time will be far too long.
2. The condensate and vapour pipes are running together inside the insulation. 1. Dedicated condensate subcooler/vapour superheater
Figure 16. Condensate subcooler/ Vapour superheater.
Cascade condenser with two separate condenser circuits. 12 4 11 17 . 1a 1b 16 13
“Through” liquid receiver (TLR). Place all inlets at one end of the LR and all exits at the other. To DX evaporators. 9. Drain. 10. Drain.
“Surge” liquid receiver (SLR).
14a. To DX evaporators. 14b. To flooded evaporators.
Figure 17. Vents, drains, compressor connections and equalization lines.
3.6. Vents, drains, compressor connections and equalization lines at condensers.
Figure 17 shows some dos and don’ts when arranging the condenser piping. A. Connection of the compressor discharge to the condenser inlet (1a) versus to the liquid receiver (2a, b). If the hot gas from the compressor passes the liquid receiver (3) it heats up the liquid, but its temperature is lowered, which reduces the stress on the condenser. The drawback is that a refrigerant close to the bubble point can cause cavitation in the pumps and in general a loss of capacity. If the vapour connection is at (2b) there is no larger heating of the condensate but a certain dampening of pressure variations occurs B. Another method to dampen excessive pressure and/or temperature variations is to connect a muffler, a vessel or the like (4), which can impart inertia to the flow. C. A drain from this vessel (4) to the liquid receiver should be closed (5) during normal operation. See §3.6 K. D. Vents (or drains) should never be placed directly on a pipe (6-10) or a vessel, particularly not at low temperature operation. Moisture can enter from the outside, freeze and block the valve. E. The same is valid for safety valves. F. In general, place safety valves, drains, vents, equalization lines valves, etc. well away from vessels and main pipes. G. The discharge vapour in (11) proceeds in a straight flow from the discharge exit, possibly via a muffler (4), into condenser and finally into the “through” liquid receiver (TLR). There might be pressure drops along the flow path but these will not disturb the flow. As the inlet to the TLR is flush with the shell, thus free access to the vapour space, the condensate drips into the TLR together with possible inerts. The inerts can be vented from the TLR (12) but also at the condenser exit, as shown for the SLR (13). H. The other liquid receiver is of the “surge” type (though it is not exactly a true “surge” SLR). The condensate pipe ends at the very bottom of the SLR, well below the liquid surface. Inerts cannot pass this lock and are vented at the condensate exit (13). Vent (7) has a double error; inerts cannot be vented from here and it is too close to the shell. I. The refrigerant leaves through the pump (14b) to the flooded flow evaporators and returns partly vaporized at (15). The two-phase mixture separates and the liquid returns to the pump (14b) The discharge vapour from the compressor (2a or 2b) of the DX system enters the liquid receiver as well. The vapour flows, via the equalization line (16), back to the condenser inlet (1b) for recondensation. However, the pressure in the SLR is lower than at the condenser inlet, there is the condenser pressure drop, Pcond, and possibly others. At start up, the pressure is equal in all points 1b, 3 &16 – 18. The liquid levels in the pipe (18) and the vessel (3) are equal. Once the cold water enters at the lower port, the vapour starts to condense and the pressure decreases to reflect the liquid temperature in 17. The lower pressure sucks vapour from the inlet port and the pressure drop but it also cause the liquid to mount in the pipe (18) until there is a balance between the resulting liquid column and the pressure drop. The process is the same as drinking through a straw from a glass of water. The pressure is lower at the condenser exit (the mouth) than in the liquid receiver (the water surface in the glass) and refrigerant (water) mounts in the condensate pipe (the straw). J. Theoretically, the two-phase flow from the flooded evaporators could enter directly to the condenser but it is very difficult to design a condenser, where all the liquid and vapour a distributed equally from channel to channel. More important, the additional liquid gives an extra resistance to the heat transfer K. Note! A faulty placed or open equalization line is a frequent cause of underperforming condensers. L. The error can be insidious. The equalization line was maybe not installed deliberately as such, it is simple a connection, through various pipes and vessels from the condenser inlet to the liquid receiver.
4. Detection of inert gases, a vibrating needle.
6. Venting of CO2 50 ° C
The inlet vapour temperature is substantially decreased, from 50 ° to 0 ° in a desuperheater. C C Note, the superheat is decreased as well.
2. t to inlet 5. Venting and recovery of HFCs. 0° C 3. t to cold side. 5K -10 ° C -14 ° C The pinch point is approaching.
7. Can CO2 1. Detection and venting of be vented into ammonia waammonia ter? To waste water treatment
-10 ° C -14 ° C
Figure 18. Detection of inerts and venting.
3.7. Detection of inerts and venting, figure 18.
1. Ammonia is the easiest refrigerant what regards detection and venting. Connect a hose to the vent, dip the other end as deep as possible into a bucket of cold water. The result is clear Bubbles emerge => Inerts are present No bubbles emerge => Inerts are not present Bubbles or no bubbles, practically no ammonia smell is noticeable. Other refrigerant are harder to detect. There are mainly three methods to indicate inerts: 2. A temperature difference, between condensate out and cooling medium in, of less than a couple of degrees. 3. There is a large temperature drop from the saturation temperature in to the condensate temperature out. Note! It is practically impossible to distinguish between a condensate flooding and inerts by using methods in 2 or 3. See also 6 below. 4. A vibrating needle in an undampened pressure gauge, type Bourdon, indicates the presence of inert gases. If inert gases are suspected, venting has to be done. 5. In case of H(C)FCs, venting should only be done into a recovery unit. 6. Carbon dioxide can be vented directly to the atmosphere but to an outside location. Note, valve well away from the vessel and no pipes after the valve. Carbon dioxide does not actually need any detection, it can be vented and the result checked. However, if there is a lot of inerts, the venting can take quite some time. The author once vented an ammonia system for four hours. Thus some detection is useful. A vent placed on the upper side of the condensate exit can be used to detect if too low capacity is due to flooding or inert gas presence. When the valve is opened: ♦ If liquid droplets leave, flooding is likely. ♦ If no liquid droplets leave, inerts are likely. It can be difficult to detect liquid droplets, though 7. Question? Can CO2 be absorbed if vented into a bucket with ammonia water and thus detected?
Fig. 19. The temperature program in a cascade unit.
3.8. Temperature difference in a cascade unit.
Figure 19 shows the temperatures in a cascade condenser evaporator. The vapour enters superheated at 50 ° C, condenses at -10 ° and leaves slightly subcooled at mayC be -11 ° The cooling refrigerant evaporates at -14 ° C. C and superheats with 5 K to -9 ° C. If the vapour temperature is decreased, e.g. by a desuperheater or mixing with vapour from a flooded evaporator, the temperature difference to the evaporating refrigerant decreases and it might even be impossible to keep the condensing or evaporating temperatures. The “pinch point” is then approached and the evaporator size approaches infinity. Compare also with an evaporator, § 2.8, figure 13. There are various carbon dioxide qualities, differing mainly in the water content. Check with the compressor maker of the CO2 quality and oil type to be used. ♦ A compressor in the CO2 cycle. R744, Refrigerant quality 4.0 (Ref. 3) with < 10 ppm O2 and < 10 ppm H2O should be used. This is expensive, though. ♦ Note that some oils, e.g. ester oils are hygroscopic and their use is thus somewhat questionable. ♦ Pump circulation (without compressor). Practically any CO2 can be used. PHEs has been used for many decades in treating all type of CO2 qualities, including with a high water content without any problem. Other components, e.g. valve & pumps, could be more sensitive. As for compressors: check with makers for a suitable CO2 quality.
3.9. Carbon dioxide quality.
3.10. Fouling in carbon dioxide circuits.
Fouling usually ends up in the evaporators, especially flooded evaporators, which then should be inspected regularly and cleaned if necessary. A source of fouling in the refrigerant circuit is oil and its decomposition products. As no oil is completely insoluble in carbon dioxide, it is flushed away be the liquid CO2 . Fouling is usually a sign of excessive wear and tear or corrosion somewhere else and excessive fouling should thus entail an investigation to the causes.
Single section cascade condenser/evaporator
Double section cascade condenser/evaporator CO2 -10 °C NH3 -15 ° C
CO2 -40 ° C DX evaporators Liquid receiver Flooded evaporators with pump circulation CO2 -10 °C
CO2 -40 °C
Liquid receiver & DX evaporators
LR & flooded evaporators. -10 ° C
Fig. 20. Single or double carbon dioxide circuits.
A. Single circuit.
Advantages: Less costly, only one liquid receiver. The same CO2 quality – but expensive - is used in both the DX and the flooded, pumped circuit. DisadvanBetter quality – more expensive – CO2 is tages: necessary. Oil in the flooded circuit will foul the evaporators and decrease the performance.
B. Double circuit.
Advantages: CO2 of a lesser quality but cheap can be used in the flooded circuit. The flooded section is oil free, important for the performance of the evaporators. DisadvanIt is easy to mix up the CO2 qualities for the tages: DX and the flooded circuits. Expensive, two liquid receivers and two condenser sections are necessary. ♦ Be aware of dry ice formation if evaporation just above the triple point (-56.6 ° C). ♦ There is no problem with distribution of liquid carbon dioxide to parallel connected evaporators as is the case with pump circulation, see § 3.15. The high pressure drop in the parallel legs compared to the header pipes, ensures an almost perfect distribution.
3.11. Carbon dioxide filling.
Follow the gas manufacturer’s instruction. In general, the filling should start from the gas phase until a pressure well over the triple point (5.2 bar) is reached otherwise dry ice can form and block valves and pipes. When the pressure is reached continue the filling from the liquid phase.
3.12. One or two liquid receivers.
Figure 20 gives an overview of one or two liquid receivers. The advantages and disadvantages can be summed up as: ♦ The CO2 in the isothermal system is not very sensitive to the water content and more important, it is oil free, an important point for the operation of heat exchangers ♦ The compression cycle needs CO2 of a higher quality, which is more expensive. ♦ As a compression cycle usually contains oil, an oil management system is necessary. Insoluble oil is also detrimental for the operation of heat exchangers as it can cover the nucleation sites, which are responsible for a major part of the boiling heat transfer coefficients. ♦ It is questionable to use two qualities of a refrigerant in the same plant. Sooner or later, the qualities will be mixed up, with compressor break down as a result. ♦ The benefit of two separate circuits is thus nullified, e.g. two emergency cooling circuits are necessary, ♦ As the circuits are separate, they can operate at different temperature levels, here one is condensing at -10 ° and the other at -15 ° albeit the temperatures C C, should not be too different. ♦ Another – better - option is two separate cascade units.
3.14. The flooded evaporator.
The condenser-liquid receiver has been treated in chapter 3.6 and 3.7. Here we will give some points on the design and installation of flooded evaporators, either the cascade evaporator – in flooded flow mainly ammonia – or a process cooler with CO2 as refrigerant, see figure 21. The main aspects are on PHEs, but most information are valid for other evaporator types as well. ♦ In flooded flow the refrigerant leaves the evaporator wet, sometimes as little as ten weight percent is vapour. ♦ The driving force is a liquid column L, which has to overcome the pressure drops in the drop leg Pd, evaporator Pe and return leg Pr. It can do this as the
3.13. Dry expansion evaporators.
The installation and selection of expansion valves and other components do no differ from other high pressure refrigerants, there are sufficient components available. The main points to consider for carbon dioxide are: ♦ Flash gas before the expansion valve. Liquid carbon dioxide is sensitive to overheating of the condensate, less so for a moderate pressure decrease in a subcooled condensate.
L Liquid head Pd(rop Leg) Pe(vap) H Pump head Evaporator
Fig. 21. The separator-evaporator.
B D C E
F. A downwards loop makes back flow more difficult.
Side placed (A) with three bends.
Top placed (B) or horizontal exit (C), both with two bends. Inclined (D) is questionable.
E. The pump is placed in a pit to reduce cavitation danger.
G L H K
Avoid inlet from the top (G)- P with out benefits - as well as letting the flash vapour enter the liquid (H). An ejector inlet (J) is questionable as there will be maldistribution in the evaporator. A simple tube (K) is useless. L. Short but wide separator. The design is expensive and the separation efficiency is questionable, see also (O).
M. Two symmetrical return legs. At least the return leg at the movable frame plate should have a flange.
N. Two symmetrical exits, joined before entrance to the separator. It is probably more expensive than (M).
O. Avoid asymmetric return legs. A long and slender separator is cheaper than (L) and the flow is more stream lined with better efficiency.
Figure 22. Separator placement.
density in the drop leg is much higher than the twophase density in the evaporator and the return leg. ♦ It is also possible to add a pump to give the natural circulation a boost. ♦ Natural circulation is normally used if the evaporator and separator are in the immediate vicinity. Pumped flow is used for far away evaporators. ♦ The optimal circulation rate - inverse of the exit vapour fraction – ranges from less than 1.1 to 10 for CO2 and 1.15 to 2 for ammonia. It varies with the thermal duty, evaporator type and pipe length. As the evaporator is usually the most critical component the manufacturer should be consulted to get a proper circulation rate. ♦ The design of the return leg is especially critical in case of natural flow, also called thermosiphon. A too small pipe diameter, too many bends or too long pipes could lead to a far too small circulation with an impaired heat transfer. A too large pipe diameter could mean that the vapour cannot lift the liquid in the vertical sections. ♦ If the pressure drop in the return leg is too large there is a danger of oscillation; the vapour cannot leave the return leg as fast as it is produced and the liquid is pushed out backwards into the drop leg. When no more liquid in the evaporator, the vapour flow decreases, the vapour leaves the return leg and the liquid enters the evaporator again, too much vapour is produced and the process repeats. A good design rule is to maximize the return leg pressure drop to 25 % of the total. ♦ Pumped flow systems are less critical. The pump can be rated for a fairly large circulation. If the pressure drops in the system turn out to be larger than expected, the circulation decreases but this is already taken into consideration and most evaporators are fairly flexible. Figures 22 and 23 shows some do’s and don’ts for separators-evaporator systems. ♦ If design conditions permit, a horizontal exit as in (22C) allows very large load variations. An inclined return leg as in (22D) should be avoided, especially for low pressure drop or expected very low load as instable flow could result. Top inlet (22G) means an extra lift and should be avoided. If the liquid level is used for control, injection of the flash gas in the liquid body (22H) is unsuitable as the level will be unstable. ♦ Ejector designs (22J) have in general proved to be unsatisfactorily as the two-phase mixture tends to distribute unevenly over the plate pack. Especially unsuitable is a simple pipe (22K) in the inlet; back flow is assured. ♦ A long and slender separator is cheaper and performs better than a short and wide (22 L & O).
♦ Figure 23 shows some design elements for a thermosiphon separator-evaporator loop. ♦ Place all inlets at one end and all exits at the other. ♦ The separator can be divided into a separator (7) and a receiver part (1, 1c). The liquid filling is minimized and if the liquid level is used to control an expansion valve, the operation will be more stable. ♦ Use a horizontal exit (1a, 1b & 1c) to the drop leg if possible. Vortex formation is suppressed and in case of CO2, dry ice is less likely to enter the pipes. ♦ A valve (2) in the drop leg can be used to suppress unstable evaporation. ♦ Never put a control valve in the return leg. If a stop valve is necessary use a ball or gate valve, globe valves are questionable as the pressure drop is too high. ♦ In case of insoluble oil, heavier than the refrigerant, drain the oil at the lowest point (3). Oil separation is improved if the pipe inclines slightly upwards. ♦ Especially for a low pressure vapour, the return leg (4) should be as smooth as possible. The pipe exit should be slightly pointing downwards, here by a 45 ° cut of a pipe (5). Elbow bends (6) are very suitable. ♦ Figure 23 shows a two pass design on the liquid side. It is used for cooling of water/brine to a temperature close to the evaporation temperature. The liquid inlet and exits are at the top. In this way the evaporating refrigerant meets roughly the same liquid temperature when entering the channels at the bottom A plate heat exchanger is one of the few evaporator types, which can cool water close to the freezing point without evaporator damage should freezing occur. ♦ Design of a two-phase circuit is difficult but an experienced evaporator manufacturer should be able to assist in this. 1a 1
1c 4 6
Fig. 23. Separator elements.
the UCs and the attached pipe work are equal, then the distribution could be as required. The danger is that if the capacity of lowest placed UC decreases suddenly, the pressure drop decreases as well. It could the steal CO2 from especially the highest placed UC. ♦ Better is to join the exits above the UC as in figure 24B. If the pressure drops in the UC is lower than the corresponding head H, the flow is better distributed over the UC and capacity changes are easier accommodated. If the capacity in one of the UC - # 3 - decreases to zero, i.e. no evaporation at all, the pressure drop changes. It increases if the friction pressure drop is small and the static two-phase pressure drop is large as this part is replaced by liquid with higher density. It decreases if the friction part is large and the static two-phase part is small. The friction part goes to zero and replacement of the two-phase mixture with liquid has no importance if this pressure drop is small. There will be no flow in the non evaporating UC and in the pipe a static liquid column – LC - forms, which corresponds to the pressure drops in the other UCs. The other UCs get a little more refrigerant, which usually has no adverse effect. If very large height difference between the UC, there might be a temperature penalty in shape of a boiling point increase. In such a case, the UC should be divided into groups, each group fed by its own pump. ♦ One method to even out the refrigerant distribution is to arrange the UC with symmetrical exits as in figure 24C. ♦ Figure 24D shows circuit, where the UC are arranged with asymmetric exits, i.e. the refrigerant in the furthermost UC has a longer way to travel and has to pass various bends & connections. This creates pressure drops in both the feed and return leg. The driving head in the furthermost UC is then less than in the first. There is neither any appreciable vertical distance as in figure 24B to even out pressure drop variations. A high pressure drop at each UC inlet is a common method of distributing a fluid between parallel channels. This can be done by disks with tailored holes at the inlet or better, as the figure shows, with valves.
3.15. Pumped flow evaporators.
The previous chapter dealt mainly with a separator in the immediate vicinity of flooded flow evaporators – pumped or natural circulation - typically plate or tube evaporators for cooling of brine. It is also usually a compressor system. The refrigerant, ammonia, carbon dioxide or other is evaporated, compressed and condensed in a normal compressor cycle. This chapter deals with pumped flow evaporators where evaporating carbon dioxide is used instead of brine. The general properties of carbon dioxide in this application was described in § 2.4. The evaporators – unit coolers, plate freezers, tubes in an ice rink, freeze driers etc. are further away and the carbon dioxide has to be pumped appreciable distances. It is usually – but must not be - an isothermal circuit, see figure 20. The carbon dioxide evaporates and condenses at basically the same pressure except for the small pressure differences necessary for the circulation. Figure 24 shows some basic layouts of the separatorpump-evaporator circuit. Distribution of a fluid between parallel connected vessels of different types is a difficult problem; for a single phase fluid and still more so for a two-phase fluid. Only some points can be treated here. ♦ As figure 24 implies, each group of heat exchangers should be fed by its own pump, at least if the groups are far apart, at different heights or of different types. ♦ In figure 24A a number of unit coolers are placed at different heights. The exits from the UC join a common header below the UC. If the pressure drop for all
To cascade condenser.
From cascade condenser.
A. Unit coolers with exits at different heights.
B. Unit coolers with exits at the same height.
C. Symmetrical exits.
D. Unsymmetrical exits.
Figure 24. Arrangement of pumped flow systems.
Both methods are questionable, especially the disks, which cannot easily changed as fine tuning of the pressure drops might be necessary. The major drawback is that for the disks/valves to be effective, the pressure drops have to be fairly large in order to be effective. A high pressure drop means a danger of flashing after the disk/valve, especially if the liquid carbon dioxide has been heated somewhat during the transport. If the UC, or the freeze dryer, the plate freezer, the PHE is not designed for a vapour fraction at the inlet a severe maldistribution could occur in the unit. Liquid systems use three way valves, which by-pass part of the liquid but that is questionable in two-phase system as a by-pass simply means extra circulation. Note also that the pressure resistance of the valve has to be comparable to that of the evaporator, otherwise there will be no or only an erratic control function. ♦ A train of evaporators as in figure 24, could be composed of various types of evaporators and with different capacities. The manufacturers are consulted and then submit the specifications. Most likely the pressure drops will differ from the specifications. Then, these are assembled to a circuit and the pump is started. However, the pressure drops between parallel legs in a well design circuit, e.g. figure 24C have to be equal but most likely they are not. The system solves this by redistributing the liquid carbon dioxide until the pressure drops become equal. Thus one item can be starved while others are overfed. This can be solved by: o Instead of the exact, optimal circulation of liquid carbon dioxide, the circulation rate is increased. This is an easy and fairly safe method of assuring that each item should obtain at least its proper amount of refrigerant. o Adjustment of the inlet valves as in figure 24D. It probably needs a lot of time consuming tinkering with the valves. o Request from the manufacturer of each item, how much refrigerant has to be fed to the item in order to give the requested nominal pressure drop. ♦ The return leg should be downwards inclining – 0.5 % but this might be difficult to keep in practice. Note however, that an ice rink has more than 100 m of two-phase flow in perfectly horizontal pipes and with any problems. ♦ The optimal circulation rate can vary considerably, to the point that the term “optimal” has no meaning. The special design of PHEs – plates are removed or added in parallel to increase the size – means that when the circulation rate increases, the K-value increase and the number of plates can be reduced but the pressure drop increases. Thus, natural circulation evaporators usually operate with a very low circulation rate, in the order of 1.1 to 2.0. Forced flow evaporators can operate for a little higher circulation rate, 1.1 to around 3. However, if the circulation is too high, the pressure drop in all parts of the system becomes too large and the evaporation temperature increases, see § 2.8. This is especially serious for lower evaporation temperatures. This implies that the circulation rate should be lower, the lower the evaporation temperature is. Unfortunately, there is a conflicting requirement, the liquid volume fraction should not be too low. For a given circulation rate, it decreases with decreasing temperature. This is an area, which has not been investigated very well but as a reference we can take an ammonia thermosiphon evaporator operating around 0 °C, which is usually laid out for an exit vapour fraction around 0.8, circulation 1.25, but the actual circulation is probably larger as the driving head usually is larger than the calculated pressure drop. Thus use a circulation 2.5. The liquid volume fraction out is then 0.75 % and this value is used to calculate the circulation rates for CO2. At -10 ° C: Circulation: 1.12 (Ref. 1) 1.6 At -40 ° C: “ 1.36 (Ref. 1) 2.4 (Ref. 1) recommends about the double circulation but an overfeed is advantageous, see the previous section. ♦ In the end, the evaporator manufacturer should be consulted. Only he knows under which conditions an evaporator gives its best performance.
1100 1000 900 800 700 -30
CO2 PAO Temperature, ° C -20 -10 0 10 20
Flooded system compressor E. Oil return Expansion valve B Liquid receiver Separator C. Oil evaporator F
F. CO2 vs. oil densities. DX compressor
Figure 25. Oil return in a flooded flow system.
A. An insoluble oil heavier than the refrigerant should be drained at the lowest point of the loop. B. An insoluble oil lighter than the refrigerant should be drained from the surface. This implies a constant liquid level. The separator is thus just a separator and not also a liquid receiver. This function is taken by the receiver to the left. The liquid level is kept low to minimize the filling. A hanging liquid receiver can also be used, figure 22 E. C. A soluble oil has to be separated by evaporating the liquid refrigerant. Here it is done by an oil evaporator. Heating medium for this usually the high pressure condensate but any suitable heat source can be used. D. Another possibility could be to pump a small stream back to the liquid receiver. If 1 % of the feed stream is pumped back, the oil concentration in the flooded loop will be 100 times the concentration in the liquid receiver. E. If the UC are used for the oil return, the oil collects in the oil vessel at the DX evaporators. Oil then has to be pumped back to the flooded flow compressor or this will be starved on oil. Carbon dioxide has very little density difference to oil. At low temperatures it is heavier than the oil but lighter at higher temperatures, see figure 25 F. The oil density varies with viscosity range and between manufacturers, thus a check should be made for a specific oil. The little density difference means that it might be difficult to separate it by gravity. More effective separators can be used, e.g. a lamellae separator. Another possibility is to use an oil evaporator for insoluble oils as well. Note that the oil draw-off point, whether soluble or insoluble oil, has to be in the refrigerant-oil loop. If it is drawn off from a stagnant point, e.g. close to D, there is a danger that there is little or no oil in the draw-off stream and oil continues to build up in the circuit. Figure 25 D shows how the DX system could be used for the oil return. There are some considerations:
o If the flooded system is large and the DX small, the
3.16. Oil return.
♦ Dry expansion. There is a straight flow from the compressor to the condenser, expansion valve, evaporator and back to the compressor and the oil follows this. The minimum vapour velocity for oil transportation in a vertical pipe depends mainly on the vapour & oil density, viscosities, oil surface tension and pipe diameter. A consistent design method is difficult to find. A pressure drop of 5 kPa/meter vertical pipe is a reasonable simple formula. The pressure drop per length is proportional to the shear forces at the wall, an important parameter. ♦ Flooded flow in cascade system. If it is connected to a cascade condenser/evaporator as in figure 20B, thus no compressor in the system, there should be no oil in the system at all. ♦ Flooded flow in parallel with a DX system, see figure 20A. The common liquid receiver feeds both pumped flow evaporators and expands to feed DX evaporators. The subsequent compressor will release oil into the system, which will enter both the flooded and the DX evaporators. The DX evaporators serve as oil evaporators, i.e. oil will never accumulate in the liquid receiver. ♦ Flooded flow in a compressor system, see figure 25. The liquid CO2 from the common liquid receivers expands in normal expansion valve to feed a number of DX unit cooler and in a level controlled expansion valve to feed the flooded circuit. The oil return from the DX system is straightforward as described above. ♦ In the flooded circuit, the oil remains, as only vapour leaves the circuit. It thus has to be removed as shown in figure 25.
strain on the DX evaporators could be too large.
o The flooded flow compressor could be starved on oil
if no oil return to the compressor is provided from the DX system.
o There is another possibility for oil return not shown in
the figure. Liquid is drawn off from the separator at a suitable point and fed directly to a DX evaporator. If the evaporation pressure is lower than in the flooded loop, no pump is necessary. The strain on this DX evaporator will be large though.
Tsat = -10 ° C/Tsup = 49 °C
78 ° C 70 ° C
54 ° C
Ts = -10 ° C/3 K subcooling
54 ° C
78 ° C
5d. Data for the defrosting circuit.
Compressors: 3 working, 84.4 kW each Unit coolers: 3 * 4, 21.1 kW/each UC. Type: AlfaCubic BL403C Electric defrost: 12.5 kW (If required) Compressor when defrosting. Power: 3.5 kW Suction: -12.5 °C/24.7 bar Discharge: -10 ° C/26.5 bar Defrost cap.: 12.5 kW Superheater: 9.0 kW
Ts = -40 ° C/0 K subcooling
Brazed PHEs are suitable for all the positions 4b, 4d & 5c 4a
Figure 26. Defrosting of unit coolers.
The condenser in a LT typically operates well below 0 ° C. Defrosting the LT unit cooler by condensing the hot gas from the compressor is thus not possible. For carbon dioxide particularly there are some possibilities, see figure 26: 1. Electric defrosting, suitable for lower capacity systems. 2. Glycol from the HT system. A special defrosting circuit is necessary in the unit coolers 3. A special high pressure compressor, which increases the pressure to condensation pressure of 10 ° (Ref. 2) C. has reported good experience with this arrangement. The disadvantage is that all components in the circuit must be designed for an operating pressure of 45 bar. 4. Instead of increasing the pressure by compressing a gas, it can be done by increasing the pressure of the liquid refrigerant (4a), followed by evaporation (4b), separation of vapour and liquid (4c) and superheating (4d). (Ref. 1) has reported good experience with this arrangement. As before, all components have to be designed for 45 bar. In theory it might be possible defrost a unit cooler by using the hot gas only, i.e. with no condensation. Unfortunately, the defrosting time will be too long. The arrangement shown here could overcome this problem. 5. In the figure are shown three operating and one standby compressor, all equal. The standby compressor is used for defrosting. The unit cooler to be defrosted (5a) is connected to this compressor (5b) and both are disconnected from the system. In the loop, just before the compressor, is a superheater (5c) installed as well. The compressor has two functions: ♦ Act like a pump to circulate the vapour. ♦ Lift the temperature after the vapour superheater. The data are shown in 5d. With a power input of 3.5 kW, the defrosting capacity is 12.5 kW, which is delivered to the unit cooler 78 ° in and 54 ° out. With the excelC C lent heat transfer properties of CO2, this could very well be sufficient to defrost a unit cooler in sufficient short time. o The advantages of this system are: o The maximum design pressure is equal to the condenser design pressure. o No particular extra components, except the superheater are necessary (plus the standby compressor). o A computer simulation where condensing R507A at 10 ° was compared with 26 bar CO2 cooled 78 to C 54 ° gave a slightly lower heat transfer coefficient for C CO2 than for R507A, but the temperature difference for CO2 was almost three times as large, giving a very large advantage for CO2. There are some restrictions: • The heat source temperature has to be sufficient high in order to heat the refrigerant vapour, to 70 ° in the C case studied. An ammonia compressor in the HT circuit can easily supply this temperature level, either the oil or a special glycol circuit. • The discharge temperature can be lifted higher by increasing the compression ratio but this increases the compressor power consumption as well. • The compressing ratio is outside the range specified by the manufacturers but this probably is due to that such low ratios are usually not required rather than any technical difficulties, but this has to be checked. • The higher the compressor efficiency is, the lower the discharge temperature will be and the more heat has to be supplied by the superheater. This is an advantage as this heat probably is cheaper than the electricity for the compressor motor.
For the content of this paper, I have had the invaluable help of colleagues within Alfa Laval, in both Italy and abroad, but especially Göran Hammarson, to whom all I express my thanks. We also thank Friosol AG in Switzerland for the use of the cover photography .
1. Design Consideration when Using Carbon Dioxide in Industrial Refrigeration Systems. Angus Gillies, B. Eng., C. Eng. & David Blackhurst BSc(Hons), C. Eng. Star Refrigeration Ltd. Glasgow UK. 2. Introducing a New Ammonia /CO2 Cascade Concept for Large Fishing Vessels. Per Skærbæk Nielsen and Thomas Lund. York Refrigeration, Marine and Controls Viby J, denmark 2003 Ammonia Refrigeration Conference & Exhibition. IIAR, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 16 – 19, 2003 3. Safety leaflet Carbon Dioxide, Linde/AGA.
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