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Malik Marghoob khan Student of Mechanical Engineering University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Islamabad, Pakistan.
1. What is a Deaerator?
It is a device that is used to remove dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide or other non-condensible gases from the water before it is allowed to enter the boiler or steam generator. This water that is to be admitted to the steam generator for steam production is feed-water. Deaerator removes the gases to lowest possible limit to avoid corrosion. The 5 parts per billion of oxygen in high pressure boilers (200 psi) is the lower limit for prevention of corrosion. While this limit can be extended to 43 parts per billion in case of low pressure boilers.
It is the mechanical or chemical way of removal of the dissolved or non-condensible gases from the feed-water.
3. Effects of Dissolved Gases in Feed-water
The presence of non-condensible gases in feed-water is the major cause of corrosion in feed-water lining, boilers and other equipment in the cycle. The presence of carbon dioxide and oxygen can lead to the formation of carbonic acid and it has the tendency to dissolve iron. This dissolved iron can give rise to fouling in boilers and scale formation in lines. Thus reducing effective heat transfer and increased cost of operation resulting in reduced life of the equipments. Presence of oxygen is the main source of pitting in the lines. Even though its a small loss of metal but a combination of concentration of oxygen, pH and high temperature leads to disastrous effects.
4. How Gases Enter the System
The possible sources of oxygen or other gases into the system are as follows: 1. Makeup water, as it is not deaerated before injecting into the system.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Feed-water from condensate return system. Direct air leakage in the suction of pumps Systems operating under vacuum Open condensate receiving tanks Non-deaerated water used for the pump sealing. Breathing action of closed condensate receiving tanks.
5. Working Principle
The operation of deaerator is based on Henry's law. According to Henry's law “the solubility of a gas decreases in a solution as the gas partial pressure above the solution decreases”. The other scientific fact that is utilized in the working of deaerator is the relationship between solubility and temperature. The solubility of a gas in the solution decreases when temperature of the solution is increased to its saturation temperature. In other words we can summarize as follows: 1. The water that is to be deaerated must be heated to saturation temperature corresponding to the pressure inside deaerator. This is accomplished by scrubbing. Scrubbing is defined as the way to force the steam into the deaerator. 2. Water is agitated mechanically, as it decreases the time and energy required to remove the dissolved gases. This is done by spraying the water in thin film in the atmosphere of steam. Reduced thin film minimizes the distance to be traveled by the gas bubble and hence resulting in release of gases. In the next step it is further sprayed over an arrangement of trays to remove any traces of gases not removed in the previous attempt. 3. Sufficient supply of steam is ensured to sweep the gases out of the deaerator. Scrubbing is done with the help of steam because of the following reasons: • It is available easily in the process or can be bled from the turbine in case of steam power plants. • It raises the temperature of the feed-water that is necessary to complete the whole process of deaeration. • Finally, since it has no free oxygen and carbon dioxide causing corrosion. The deaerator must satisfy the above cited requirements to be an efficient deaerator. The term “Pegging” is also sometimes used for scrubbing. Pegging steam is used for scrubbing action and the steam used for this purpose is called pegging steam.
6. Types of Deaerator
The two basic types of deaerator are discussed in the following paragraphs: 6.1 Tray Type In tray type deaerator water is admitted from the top of it with the help of a distribution pipe. To increase the surface area for effective heat transfer and ease the removal of dissolved gases by thinning the layer of water, it is cascaded through multiple trays down to the deaerator storage tank. The low pressure steam produced as a result of this process travel upward through perforated trays and vented to the atmosphere through a vent provided at the top of deaerator. Tray type deaerator is available in different configurations. The horizontal configuration is shown in figure 2. Condensate is entering the deaerator from the top, with the help of spray valves it is distributed uniformly across all the trays located below the valves. Pegging steam or steam for scrubbing action is coming from the bottom of the trays, it heats the water or condensate to the
saturation temperature to reduce solubility of gases. Gases released from condensate and the steam produced during the deaeration are vented to the atmosphere through the vent fluxes located at the top of deaerator, while deaerated condensate is collected in the deaerator storage tank below the deaerator vessel. Figure 3 shows both deaerator and the deaerator storage tank along with other minor details of the inners of the entire equipments.
Figure: 2. Horizontal Tray Type Deaerator (www.lenntech.com)
Figure 3: (www.directindustry.com)
6.2 Spray Type The working principle of spray type deaerator is the same as that of tray type deaerator. In this case we do not use trays for the dispersion of water, but spring loaded nozzles are used to disperse the water into smaller droplets to achieve better deaeration process. The complete deaeration process in this case can be divided into two steps. In the first step water is sprayed into the atmosphere of steam where it is pre-heated and then drained or transfer to the scrubbing section of the deaerator. Most of the noncondensible gases are released in this step. In the second step large quantity of scrubbing steam is provided which raises the temperature of the water to saturation temperature. This close contact of water and steam efficiently removes the remains of oxygen and other non-condensible gases to the
desired lower limits. One of the scheme used in spray type deaerator is shown below in the figure 4, where preheating section is separated from the deaerating section with the help of suitable divider.
Figure 4: Spray Type Deaerator (www.wikipedia.com)
Figure 5: Spray Nozzles in Spray Type Deaerator (www.fapdec.org)
Figure 5 shows the details of inside view of the section of deaerator having spray nozzles. It should be noted that both types of deaerator spray the water whether they are tray type or spray type and it should not be confused with their names.
7. Pressure Surges
Sudden increase or free steam can cause a pressure spike in the vessel of the deaerator, which may lead to re-oxygenation of the feed-water. Hence, deaerator pressure is maintained with the help of dedicated pressure control valve.
Deaerator is not designed to remove the air ingress in the system or any leakage that may cause the air to enter into the system. It removes only non-condensible gases that enter into it, so proper care must be exercised to eliminate the source of free air into the system.
9. Benefits of Deaearation
1. Because of reduced corrosion it increases the life of the equipments. 2. Reduces the operation cost, as it helps to minimize the cost of chemicals needed to add in the feed-water to remove the corrosive agents. 3. Helps to achieve energy savings and reduces thermal shocks as it pre-heats the feed-water before entering the boiler. 4. Deaerator storage water tanks provide net positive suction head required for the boiler feedwater pumps and additional water storage capacity.
10. Problems in Deaerator
Erosion is the main problem in deaerator. The most vulnerable locations for erosion are steam inlet points, vicinity of flashing returns especially just under the steam inlet end of tray of tray box. Corrosion in the deaerator may be due improper operation, mechanical failure of deaerator, or deaerator itself not functioning correctly. So full inspection is recommended to monitor the health of deaerator vessels according the standards or codes being followed by users. Other than the above mentioned parts problems usually occur in trays, vents and water box. The most common problems encountered in deaerator operation are discussed in the following paragraphs: 10.1 Weld Overlay on Deaerator High velocity of steam may lead to excessive pitting or erosion leading to the poor performance of deaerator. This problem can be minimized by overlaying the deaerator tray section or replacing the entire section. 10.2 Spray Deaerator Water Bypass Poor sizing of the spray valves, spray pan and high flow rates can lead to water bypass in spray deaerator causing water overflow to the deaerator walls. As a result poor deaeration is done and causing corrosion. 10.3 Stress Cracks in Vessel Shell Deaerator operates under the harsh environment of varying levels of pressure, temperatures and flows causing vibration and ultimately leading to fatigue causing stress cracking. Cracking can be in deaerator, deaerator storage tank and heat affected zone (HAZ). Stress cracks are identified with the help of non destructive testing and are then repaired by the qualified welders. 10.4 Flow Accelerated Corrosion Also known as FAC and defined by the Kansas City Deaerator Company as “It is the loss of metal in
carbon steel equipments that is eaten away by flowing stream of steam or water”. The flowing stream of steam or water removes the protective oxide layer on the metal making it vulnerable to corrosion. Areas affected by FAS are identified by their bright, polished patches of metal or as severe pitting of the metal. 10.5 Tray Support Pitting If water enters before deaeration or not properly deaerated before its entrance tray box it leads to the pitting of supports provided for trays. It means deaerator is not performing satisfactorily, as it should have removed the oxygen before entering the tray box. 11. References 1. www.wikipedia.org 2. www.shipcopumps.com 3. www.thermgard.com 4. www.deaerator.com 5. www.kansascitydeaerator.com 6. 6731 West 121st Street, Overland Park, KS 66209, (Voice) 913-338-2111 • (Fax) 913-338-2144. 7. Boiler Operator's Handbook by Ken Heselton, Fairmont Press, Inc. 700 Indian Trail, Lilburn, GA 30047, Tel: 770-925-9388; Fax: 770-381-9865.