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Presentation on Flash Steam Recovery

By: Steven McNeil V.P. of Marketing/Penn Separator Corp.

What Is Flash Steam:
In a steam boiler heat is added to the water to generate steam. The water under pressure can only hold so
much heat. This is the sensible heat of the liquid at the operating pressure. When additional heat is added the
water then turns to steam. The amount of additional heat required to create the steam is the latent heat of
evaporation. The steam produced then contains the full BTU’s of the sensible heat of the liquid and the latent
heat of evaporation.
The opposite occurs when flashing condensate. The condensate that is under pressure contains energy that is
more than the water can hold when the pressure is reduced. This energy from the condensate is released in the
form of flash steam. The greater the difference in the initial pressure verses the flash to pressure the greater the
amount of flashing that occurs.
The amount of flashing that will occur can also be calculated using steam tables. The amount of heat that the
liquid can hold at the higher pressure Enthalpy Sat. Liquid in (BTU’s/lbs.) minus the amount of heat in the lower
pressure also (BTU’s/lbs.) divided by the latent heat of evaporation at the lower pressure is equal to the
percentage of flashing that will occur. The flash Chart “F” provides the results of this calculation for various
flash pressures.
The steam tables also show the heat content of flash steam at the lower pressure. The total heat Hg (Sat
Vapor) is the BTU’s/lbs. of energy in the steam for every lbs. of flash steam it will contain. Because this energy
is so high for every lbs. of steam that flashes, recovering this steam is very advantageous.
An example of the flash calculation is 100 psig condensate flashing to a 5 psig low pressure steam line. OR:

309 196 = 11.8% Flashing to Steam.

For a condensate load of 1000 #/hr. X 11.8 % = 118 #/hr. would flash to steam. This leaves 882 #/hr. of
condensate at 5 psig.

7. The savings equal $ ./hr. using a $ 5. 4. Vertical designs are preferred because of their ability to produce cleaner steam to the vent. Reduces condensate line sizing due to excessive steam loads.8% flash steam going from 100 psig to 5 psig and see how 1. The cyclone action also provides a low pressure area for the clean steam to rise to the vent. Traditional flash tanks use the surface area of the water and a low upward velocity (10 fps) to separate the steam and condensate. Flash Tanks Provide the area: Flash tanks provide the area required for the efficient release of the flash steam to a lower pressure. For a boiler operating 24 hrs. of condensate flashes steam equal to 118 lbs.24 gpm of water to the system. The flash steam contains the full BTUs of saturated vapor. Creates a cushion in return lines.Why Recover Flash Steam: The best reason to use a flash tank is to reclaim the energy from the flashing steam. It eliminates transferring a high temperature mixed flow media. X 1156 btu’s/lbs = 136. .60 When a Flash Tank is used and flash steam is returned to the system it not only recovers the full btu’s of the steam but also has other benefits. Flash Tanks are available in a variety of designs and are available in a horizontal or vertical style. In the example above the steam will return . The steam is actually soft water that would need to be replaced if vented from the system. of steam. 6. 5.85 per hour. The condensate at low pressure now 5 psig is easier to return to the system. 3. This Flash steam. of 118 #/hr. Our heat recovery survey shows the fuel savings to produce this steam. Provides an area for air separation. a day 365 days a year this would save $ 7.000 #/hr. As the flash pressure increases so does the BTU’s that the flashing steam contains. The steam tables showed that flashing steam to low pressure of 5 psi can provide 1156 BTU’s/lbs. Penn Flash Separators can be smaller because they use a tangential inlet that creates a centrifugal spinning action to mechanically separate the steam and condensate.468.00/million btu fuel cost and a boiler efficiency of 80%.408 BTUs per hour recovery. 1. Reduces cooling water requirements. If we use our previous example of 11. 2.

safety valve connection. The condensate then at a low pressure becomes easier to dispose of in the normal manner. the tank will operate at the flash-to pressure. air vent.Normal features of a vertical flash tank or separator are a tangential inlet and wear plate. or a pressure gauge connection. A separator used on the high pressure condensate return can be used to flash steam to a medium pressure steam application and the medium pressure condensate remaining can be flashed to a low pressure steam application. All flash tanks and separators should be designed and build in accordance with ASME Code Sec. The flash tank also provides a dead air space which can be used to vent unwanted air from the system. medium. Another common application is condensate from steam traps (Sketch #2). This is done when the mixed flow of condensate and steam that can not be handled by the return line or equipment. condensate drain. Even if the lines contain different pressures of condensate in the inlets. VIII. 1 for an unfired pressure vessel. level controller connections. Because the condensate is pressurized a flash tank can separate flashing steam and supplement steam to a lower pressure application. swing check valves should be used on each inlet to prevent back flows from entering the line. Flash Separators can be used in staging (Sketch #3) where a steam system uses high. Other connections could include a level gauge. F. On other applications condensate must be flashed to atmosphere (Sketch #4). a tank clean-out. Several lines can use a common flash tank minimizing uneven flows and slugs of water while at the same time returning flash steam to a low pressure steam application saving valuable BTU’s. centrally located steam vent. . The pressurized condensate can come from a variety of sources: (Sketch #1-5) A flash tank as shown (Sketch #1) can provide an point where condensate can be collected before being returned to the feedwater system. When flashing to atmosphere the remaining condensate will be at 212 deg. Drain and Vent sizing are also critical to flash tank selection and should be chosen to limit velocity and pressure drop as the steam and condensate travels down the lines. Div. A safety valve can be provided to limit the flashing steam pressure protecting the low pressure user down stream or to protect the tank from over pressurizing. On separators with several inlets. Traps are designed to drain liquid under pressure from a steam line or equipment while leaving the steam in the system. The remaining condensate will then be all at the same pressure. In this instance the condensate will be gravity drained. A condensate aftercooler can be included to cool the condensate to an acceptable temperature before it is directed to a drain. This application shows process traps supplying steam to low pressure heaters. and inspection ports. and low pressure steam. A trap on the outlet is not required.

Because the flash steam will be venting to a low pressure application the tank will operate at the vent-to pressure.Some other unique applications for flash tanks have included engine cooling through circulation of coolants. laundry drains. Other more elaborate controls can be used to accomplish the draining of condensate. and geothermal applications. A trap or level controls would be required to drain the condensate while keeping the steam in the system. A clean-out coupling is normally provided for periodic blowdown of the flash tank to clean out sediment that has collected. Some flash tanks come with level gauge connections that can be used to visually check the level. A pressure gauge can be installed in the vent line or tank to visually check the venting pressure of the separator. . Drain traps should be invented bucket or Float & Thermostatic type sized for 3 times the normal flow rate to compensate for slugs of condensate and to allow for constant drainage from the tank. tank. deaerator or other equipment overflows. The tank provides an air space just above the inlet were air can collect. This should be piped to a sewer drain. The vent of the separator would be piped to a low pressure header. Where two or more lines share a common flash tank they should be protected from back flow using a check valve. A safety valve on the tank or located in the vent line can be used to protect the low pressure application from over pressurizing. Using Flash Tanks and Separators: (Instructions C-6) Flash tanks used on pressurized systems should be located as close to the application as possible to minimize back pressure in the line. and loss of steam. prevent radiant heat losses. They could include a external float cage or a pressure differential transmitter with a pneumatic or mechanical control valve. The condensate line. pharmaceutical. Condensate piping should be pitched toward the inlet of the tank. A high level alarm switch can be included to warn the operator of high condensate levels in the tank. A thermostatic air vent could be used to vent this air from the system. A check valve should be used in the vent if the condensate flow rate to the tank is intermittent. autoclaves. The trap should be located below the water level in the tank to accomplish a gravity drain. and piping should be insulated to prevent unnecessary heat loss. The steam demand should be greater then the amount of flash steam to prevent over pressurizing. process draining.

For a boiler operating 24 hours a day 365 days a year this would total $ 13. Returning the steam to the system also saves make-up water that would otherwise need replaced.71 = $ 1. F under pressure. An aftercooler fitting can be used on the drain to automatically temper the water before entering a sanitary sewer. Besides transferring heat to make up water the blowdown is cooled to 100-110 deg. high enough to allow for gravity drainage. Continuous Boiler Blowdown Heat Recovery (Sketch #5) The final application for a flash tank is boiler continuous blowdown. The heat recovered from the flashing continuous blowdown. The tank shall be located above the floor drain.56 per hour.00 savings per year. continuous blowdown would be $ . We hope that this information is useful and provides information that will lead to more efficient boiler operation and customer savings. A second stage can be added to the flash tank and heat recovery system that includes a heat exchanger that transfer the remaining heat into the boiler feed water. Most boiler manufactures recommend automatic TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) control. Penn’s Technical bulletin PSC486 shows the savings over time and the payback for a complete system verses just a heat exchanger. Penn can provide a free heat recovery survey with out obligation to show you possible saving for your boiler system. Considering the cost to produce steam the payback on a system of 3-6 months is not uncommon. Additional information on Penn products are available from our Sales Representative. Even so blowdown losses can be tremendous and heat recovery is required. A heat recovery system reclaims more of the BTU’s then just a heat exchanger. Continuous blowdown is the only acceptable way to control boiler TDS. F but. As you can see from the graph a shell and tube heat exchanger can only cool blowdown to 110 deg. The savings from continuous boiler blowdown can be 1/2 to 1 ¼% overall boiler efficiency. The complete heat recovery system after flashing can not only cool to the same 110 deg. If we look at the savings example we had before from the flash steam and add the additional savings from the transfer of heat from the condensate the savings for 1. The first stage of continuous blowdown heat recovery uses a flash tank to flash part of the blowdown water into steam.Flash Tanks that vent to atmosphere. This is done by continuously taking boiler water from 4-6” below the surface of the boiler water where TDS is at its highest level. F and will be acceptable in most drain systems. Insulation would only be required for personnel protection. or equipment. are less complicated to install. This stage of the heat recovery can provide 3 5-40% of the heat recovery.85 + . is 50-55% of the heat recovered. to flash off unwanted steam. can cool the blowdown even further providing additional savings over just a heat exchanger. Most of the time a deaerator or feedwater heater operating at 5-15 psi and can use all the additional steam. The inlets come directly into the tank and do not require check valves.665. The steam vent piping should be the same size or larger then the tank vent and be piped as direct as possible to the atmosphere to minimize back pressure. .000 #/hr.