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Osman A. Hamed, Mohammad AK. Al-Sofi, Monazir Imam, G. M. Mustafa Khalid Bamardouf and Hamad Al-Washmi
Saline Water Conversion Corporation P.O.Box 8328, Al-Jubail -31951, Saudi Arabia Tel: + 966-3-343 0012, Fax: + 966-3-343 1615 Email:

ABSTRACT The majority of large-scale desalination plants in the Arab Gulf area employ the multistage flash (MSF) processes. MSF processes are energy intensive and it is, therefore, essential to search for design and operating conditions which lead to reduction of energy dissipation and consequently lower water production cost. This paper reports a simulation study which was carried out to examine to what extent the thermal irreversibility of an MSF process is influenced by variation of the most important design and operating parameters. The impact of variation of top brine temperature, number of stages and terminal temperature approach on the distiller performance ratio and irreversibility were explored and presented graphically in the term of thermal grids. The simulation study revealed that within the selected range of number of stages (16-40) and top brine temperature (90 120o C), the MSF distiller irreversibility is highly influenced by the number of stages and to a lesser extent by the variation of the top brine temperature. The simulated results are compared with one year operating data obtained from an MSF distiller. The distiller is a cross-tube configuration, which consists of 22 stages and operating at a top brine temperature ranging between 90 to 98o C. Using a steady state simulation program, an envelop of possible operating conditions is constructed for the distiller to interrelate performance ratio, production, recycle flow and top brine temperature. Stage-wise simulation of individual heat transfer coefficients and fouling factors showed that both clean overall heat transfer coefficients (U c) and fouling factors (FF) are stage dependent and conversely the operating overall heat transfer


Presented in the International Conference on Seawater Desalination Technologies on the Threshold on the New Millennium, Kuwait, Nov. 4-7, 2000. 2. Published in Desalination Journal 134, (2001) 195-203.

use of corrosion resistant materials and increase of unit capacity to 12 MIGD [2]. The exergy method is particularly useful for optimizing the design and operation of the MSF process with the aim of reducing energy consumption. but it is still considered as an energy intensive process [6]. A brief history of the development of the MSF process as well as specific design features of a modern MSF plant are presented by Darwish. Process details. Theoretical analysis of the MSF process has been published [7. et al. The distiller exergy losses varied between 52 and 62 kJ/kg of distillate. The dependence of the distiller irreversibility on the process conditions is reported. The need for detailed thermodynamic analysis is thus quite evident in order to get a detailed understanding of the process and search for optimal process irreversibility. which are responsible for distiller irreversibility are pinpointed and opportunities for better utilization of available energy are discussed. once through and recycle MSF units were reported [9]. coupling of MSF process with power generation system has greatly contributed in reducing energy requirement by about 50% or more compared to single purpose desalination plants using the same kind of fuel [5]. The basic technology of modern large scale MSF is similar to the early units and apart from the development of on-line ball cleaning system and scale control techniques.8] where the relationships among the various designs and operating parameters were examined. to identify . Characteristics of a number of simplified configurations including single stage flashing. [4]. the development of the process can be considered as evolutionary rather than revolutionary [3]. Concepts of first and second laws of thermodynamics are both used rather than just the first law. INTRODUCTION The majority of desalination plants in the Arab Gulf Region are currently employing the multistage flash process (MSF) which is producing around 67% of the total world 3 capacity of land-based desalting projects which are capable of producing 100 m /day [1].coefficient (U D) is to a great extent less dependent. The success and popularity of the process is due to its simplicity. Although. inherent robustness and vast amount of acquired experience which resulted in reducing material and operating costs and increasing life expectancy.

process irreversibility and evaluate the thermodynamic losses of the process.17]. Applications of the exergy or availability method to distillation processes were reported [10-15].6o C with production of 5. The evaporators are designed for operation at a brine top temperature of 90.23 and .93 and 5.8o C with a production of 6. forty distillers in total are installed). Comparison between design and simulated values are shown on Table 2.14 percent for LTO and HTO respectively. The remaining 10 distillers have 17 stages in the heat recovery and 2 stages in the heat rejection section each.2 percent less than the available area. In this paper the operational performance of an MSF distiller representing Phase II plant is analyzed and simulated . A computer program is used simulation study and its overall logic and algorithm Al-Jubail for the has been previously reported by Hamed et al.29 MIGD [16.2 MIGD and a top temperature of 112. Each one of the ten back-pressure turbine feeds low grade steam to four MSF distillers ( i. A detailed parametric analysis is also intended to be carried out. Thirty distillers have 19 stages in the recovery section and 3 stages in the rejection section each. [10].e. One distiller from the group having 22 stages was selected for this simulation study and its design and operating characteristics are shown in Table-1. When performance ratios are compared a good agreement was obtained between design and simulated values and the difference between them is -0. OPERATION SIMULATION The simulation program was firstly used to verify that the distiller would operate at the ce area requirements. It also shows that the surface area requirements for LTO and HTO are 9. AL JUBAIL PHASE II PLANT Al Jubail Phase II power and desalination plant is the largest in the world. The simulation program has got the capability to perform energy/exergy performance calculation of the MSF system. It consists of ten Boiler-Turbo-Generator ( BTG ) sets of about 130 MW output each . .

25 and TBT increasing from 90 to 112.2 5 to 1. The simulation program has been used to calculate the overall heat transfer coefficients and fouling factors of each individual stage and simulation results are shown in Figure 2.8o C and recycle concentration ratio increased from 1. It illustrates the operation as performance ratio vs recycle to distillate mass ratio with the following boundary conditions : Nodes along line CF constant recycle concentration ratio of 1.4 Nodes along line FED Nodes along line DA Nodes along ABC ″ Simulated Stage-Wise Heat Transfer Coefficients and Fouling Factors Very little information is published on the stagewise heat transfer coefficients and fouling factors [20] and in most cases an average value for the whole recovery section is determined. The clean overall heat transfer coefficient (Uc) of each stage which is calculated from the individual heat transfer coefficients of recycle brine and condensing vapors inside and outside the tubes respectively.25 constant recycle ratio of 1.Steady state simulation are normally used to generate operating envelopes to describe the possible operating conditions of the MSF distiller [18. individual heat transfer coefficients of the recycle brine and the condensing vapors are dependent on their physical properties which are highly influenced by stage operating pressure and temperature.19]. is highly dependent on the number of recovery stage. the high temperature stages of the r ecovery section are having higher clean overall heat transfer coefficients compared to the low temperature stages. An envelope of possible operating conditions of the selected distiller is shown on Figure 1 for winter conditions. This is due to the fact that stages of higher temperature are experiencing high fouling factors which is offsetting the advantages gained by the clean heat transfer coefficients. The simulated fouling factors of all stages . Although. The highest value of U c is obtained in the first stage and is This is because the progressively decreasing towards the low temperature stages. the operating overall heat transfer coefficients (UD) of the different stages remain virtually constant.8 to 90o C constant TBT of 90o C and recycle concentration ratio decreased from 1.4 and TBT decreased from 112.8o C constant TBT of 112.4 to 1.

The interrelationships between the . Second law thermal analysis of the distiller is shown in Figure 3(a). OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE Operational data for the assigned distiller were collected for a period of one year. exergy losses and the terminal temperature approach. The large exergy losses in the recovery section are the result of the exergy losses in feed heaters which are having condensing area several times higher than that of the brine heater and heat rejection section and those caused by flashing of brine and distillate in each recovery stage. The terminal temperature approach is the difference in temperature between the condensing vapor and the recirculating stream leaving the condenser and is an important design parameter depending on the heat transfer area and overall heat transfer coefficient. The exergy losses in the recovery section after acid cleaning are less than that in the pre-acid period. Comparison between the observed and simulated performance ratio was shown in Fig. It was t hen acid cleaned for the first time after 16 years of operation and the TBT was raised to 98o C. the overall exergy destruction during the pre-acid period was ranging between 58 and 62 kJ/kg and then dropped to 55-52 kJ/kg after acid cleaning. ejector system and wasted in leaving streams. Figures 3 (c) and (d) show the variation of the overall heat transfer coefficients (OHTC) and fouling factors (FF) with time. brine heater.are lower than the design values and the gap between the two values widens towards the low temperature stages. It can be noticed that the impact of acid cleaning was more significant on the thermal performance of the recovery section due to the increase of its OHTC and reduction of FF. which is accordingly reflected in the reduction of the overall exergy losses. The distiller was operating a TBT of 90o C for the first 200 days as shown in Figure 3. number of stages. performance ratio. 3(b) and very close agreement between the two values was observed. PARAMATERIC ANALYSIS A comprehensive simulation study was carried out to examine the interrelationships between the top brine temperature. It also shows the break down of exergy losses among the major subsystems which included heat recovery and rejection section.

Increase of performance ratio will reduce steam consumption and consequently minimize operating cost while increase in surface area results in an increase of capital expenditure. Conversely. exergy losses and specific condensing area is presented in the form of grid network. The impact of number of stages and top brine temperature on performance ratio. An operating envelope with specific boundary conditions is generated and presented to describe the distiller possible operating conditions. optimum performance ratio (i. is discussed. 2. that of lowest production cost of water which is site specific) has to be determined by making cost tradeoffs between the cost of process energy and capital cost of the process. Dependence of performance ratio.e. Increase of number of stages will decrease temperature drop per stage which will reduce the irreversibility of the system due to the reduction in condenser and flash exergy losses and results in an improved thermal performance. results in an increase of both performance ratio and specific condensing area and a decrease of exergy losses. A detailed parametric study is carried out. CONCLUSIONS 1. Performance and operation of a 22-stage MSF distiller is simulated. heat transfer coefficients and exergy losses on the most important operation parameters.different parameters are presented in the form of grid network which are shown in Figures 4 and 5 for TTD of 2 and 4 o C. Therefore. increasing top brine temperature while keeping number of stages constant (lines such as AB and CD) specific will increase the performance ratio and decrease the condensing area but its net effect on exergy destruction is not significant. A one year operation data is used to carry out an energy/exergy thermal analysis of the whole distiller as well as the major subsystems. . the simulation analysis revealed the dependence of exergy losses on number of stages is more appreciable than that due to variation of top brine temperature. respectively. Within the selected range of number of stages and top brine temperature. 3. Both figures reveal that increasing number of stages while keeping top brine temperature constant such as lines AC & BD.

37% 0.6 63461 126.8 2257 0.58 (112.55 1936.2% -0. Abdul Salam Al-Mobayed and Anwar Ehsan of Al-Jubail Plants.17% 0. .448 79672.6 (available) ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors gratefully acknowledge the help and useful discussion provided by Mr.98 2 o Parameter Product water flow m3 /Hr Recycle brine flow m3 /Hr Makeup flow m3 /Hr Blow down flow m /Hr Sea water to rejection m3 /Hr Tube side velocity m/s Brine heater heat transfer coefficient W/m C Fouling allowance m2 o C/W Heat recovery and brine heater Performance ratio kg/1000 kJ 3 (90.000176 3.2 0.93% 88459.6 2 Area requirements m (available) 987 10733.08 Table 2 : Comparison of design and simulated parameters of the selected distiller (winter conditions) at low (L) and high temperature operation (HTO). Ppm 987 10817 63700 Steam to brine heater 126. LTO (90.77% 0.5 7130 1.23 % 4.6 83798. LTO C) 987 10817 2923.417 1184 9348.55 6996 1.64 3.0% 0.Table 1 : Design Characteristics of the Selected Distiller (winter conditions) at low (L) and high temperature operation (HTO).0% 2.09 0.1 61508 132.51% 0.6 HTO C) 1184 9556 3504.44 2182 0.08 4.6 o C) Design Simulated Diff.77 (t/Hr ) PR ( kg /1000 kJ ) 3.44 Total surface 88459. Parameter Set product (t/hr) Flow (t/hr) Recycle Conc.8 o C) Simulated Diff.14% 5. Design HTO (112.000176 4.17% 0.5 2320.074 9.1% 1184 9556 61400 131.

4 8.16 Simulated FF 0.5 10 10. 5000 Simulated UD Simulated Uc Overall Heat Transfer Coeff.2 9 8.5 Recycle to Distillate Ratio Figure 1 :Operating Analysis of a 22-stage MSF distiller.5 F 8 8.8 7.8 C B 106 C Brine Conc.(kW/m2 K) 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 0.8 C TBT=112.5 9 9.8 8.08 0.25 1.04 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 Recovery Stage Number Figure 2 : Variation of Heat Transfer Coefficient and Fouling Factor with Recovery Stage Number .6 112.6 8.12 FF(design) 2 0.325 D 90 C 90 C E 90 C 7.5 11 11.4 Performance Ratio (kg / 2326 kJ) 112.2 Fouling Factor(m K/kW) 0. Ratio 9.2 8 1.9.8 C A 109 C 9.4 102 C C" 109 C 106 C 100 C 98 C 96 C 102 C 100 C 98 C 96 C 94 C 92 C 94 C 92 C 1.

HTC of H. In Rejec.2 0 1 c 0.4 0. (kW/m K) 3 2 1 0 (kg/2326 kJ) 10 9 8 7 70 Simulated b PR Plant a 60 50 Exergy Destruction (kJ/kg) 40 30 Dest. 0. Sec.120 100 Acid Cleaning e Temperature ( C ) 80 60 40 20 6 TBT Flash Range o 0.4 0.8 0. Wasted in leaving Stream Total Losses 10 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 260 280 300 320 340 Days Figure 3: Operation Performance of MSF Distiller 360 (m K/kW) 4 OHTC 2 2 Factor(m K/kW) Brine Heater 5 Fouled HTC of Brine Heater Fouling F.8 0. In B/H Dest. 20 Wested in Ejector Dest in Recov. Fouling F. Av.6 Fouling Fouling Factor OHTC 4 3 2 1 0 6 5 Av. of Brine Heaterd (kW/m K ) 2 2 .6 0.2 0 Heat Rec.Recovery Sec.Rec. of H.

Exergy Losses and Specific Condensing Area on TBT and Number of Stages Condensing Area. m 210 2 /(kg/s) 2 100 24 D Condensing Area. o C 90 100 112 120 250 B 80 16 200 A 20 20 Exergy Losses. kJ/kg 150 90 20 24 28 32 36 40 C 20 130 80 28 32 36 40 110 D 70 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 90 11 12 13 14 10 Performance Ratio. k g / 2 3 2 6 kJ Figure 4: Dependence of Performance Ratio. kg/2326 kJ Figure 5: Dependence of Performance Ratio. m /(kg/s) .110 32 28 36 40 400 C 350 40 Number of Stages 16 20 24 28 32 36 300 A 90 16 Number of Stages 20 TBT. kJ/kg 70 B 24 24 28 32 o 150 TBT C 36 40 28 32 36 40 100 60 C D 50 50 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 0 P e r f o r m a n c e R a t i o . Exergy Losses and Specific Condensing Area on TBT and Number of Stages 130 32 36 24 28 20 40 C 230 120 40 Number of Stages 16 32 28 24 20 36 40 D 190 C 110 A 170 100 A 16 Number of Stages B Stages 16 TBT. o C 90 100 112 120 24 Exergy Losses.

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