You are on page 1of 10

Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

Condensation of steam with and without the presence of

non-condensable gases in a vertical tube
S.B. Al-Shammaria*, D.R. Webbb, P. Heggsb
Water Technologies Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, PO Box 24885, Safat 13109, Kuwait
Tel. +965 487-8122-4; Fax +965 487-9238; email:
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST),
PO Box 88, Manchester, UK M60 1QD

Received 19 March 2003; accepted 20 November 2003

Condensation of steam and steam from non-condensable gases were investigated experimentally inside a vertical
tube. The consistency and reliability of the measurements were checked by detailed energy balance. The experimental
results show the effect of non-condensable gases on heat and mass transfer resistances in the gas phase of the
condensation process. In the steam runs, the gas side heat transfer resistance was very small and the main resistance
was due to condensate film. This resistance increased significantly for steamair runs, particularly toward the top part
of the tube. This occurred as a result of accumulation of the non-condensable gases near the surface as the condensation
process proceeds, which act as an extra resistance to heat transfer.

Keywords: Condensation; Steam; Non-condensing gases; Vertical tube

1. Introduction
film thickness when the flow is laminar, but
Condensation is important and forms an inte- lower resistance is found for turbulent flow. The
gral part of many engineering systems such as condensation of binary mixtures produces an
steam power plants and seawater desalination extra heat and mass transfer resistance in the gas
units. In condensation of pure saturated vapors, it phase. This extra resistance may become very
is generally assumed that the only rate controlling large if one of the components is a non-
process is that of heat transfer across the conden- condensing gas. The reason for this is that the
sate layer. The resistance to heat transfer of the condensation process effectively sweeps the gas
condensate film is directly proportional to the to the surface where it accumulates as a gas-rich
layer. The transfer of vapor to the surface may
*Corresponding author. then become controlled by the process of

0011-9164/04/$ See front matter 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
152 S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

diffusion, a relatively slow process compared circulation system and power supply. The main
with convection. test section (HE-1) is basically 3 m double ver-
Non-condensable gases effect on steam con- tical concentric pipes forming a cylindrical annu-
densation has been extensively studied by many lus. The inner tube of the annulus is a copper tube
authors. Minkowyez and Sparrow [1] found that with a 28.25 mm ID while the annulus is made of
depending on concentration, a half percent of air stainless steel with 62.7 mm ID. The test appa-
in steam can reduce the heat transfer by 50%. ratus was designed so that the vapor generated in
Sparrow and Marschall [2] improved the theo- the boiler enters and exits vertically through the
retical study by considering the influence of inner pipe while the cooling water flows counter-
temperature difference on the effect of non- currently in the annulus. The inlet section of the
condensable gases on heat transfer coefficients. annulus was designed to allow the cooling water
Experiments on condensation of steamair to distribute uniformly around the annulus before
mixtures outside tubes in a horizontal heat entering the cooling section. This will ensure
exchanger were performed by Rashtchian and efficient turbulent mixing of the cooling water.
Webb [3]. They tested different flow patterns and The condenser is equipped with a large number of
different operating conditions. Condensation out- tappings used for thermocouple installation and
side and inside vertical tubes was analyzed by pressure measurement. These are located at every
Mazzarotta and Sebastiani [4]. The vapor phase inlet to, and outlet from, the test tube. In addition,
was assumed to contain a single non-condensable a total of 12 thermocouples are incorporated in
component and any number of condensing sub- the design to measure the temperature in the test
stances. The proposed model was based on film section. Six thermocouples are located at equal
theory and considered the interactions as due to intervals within the outer tube (annulus) to
diffusion in the gaseous mixture. Forced con- measure the coolant temperature profile. Wall
vection condensation inside a vertical tube was temperatures are recorded by six thermocouples,
investigated experimentally and analytically by which are welded into the test tube wall at equal
Peterson et al. [5]. They derived effective conden- intervals. The test section was heated by an
sation thermal conductivity using a heat and mass electric heater that supplies 36 kW. This heater is
transfer analogy approach. This parameter controlled by means of a thyristor. The absolute
allowed the prediction of combined sensible and pressure and differential pressure over the section
condensation heat transfer using standard forms were measured using either a manometer or
for heat transfer correlations. This paper focuses calibrated differential pressure (DP) cell. The
on investigating experimentally the influence of system pressure at the top of the test section was
non-condensing gases on heat transfer character- measured using a U-tube mercury manometer.
istics inside vertical tube. The measurement of the absolute pressure
required the atmospheric pressure scale. The heat
transfer rig is well insulated and operated under
2. Experimental vacuum, which is obtained by a liquid ring
vacuum pump system.
2.1. Apparatus
For experimental work with air, air is fed into
The experimental work was undertaken using the condenser via a calibrated nozzle box. The
a UMIST heat transfer rig in a university pilot vapor generated in the boiling vessel (V-9) passes
plant. A schematic diagram of this apparatus is with a known amount of air to the test section
shown in Fig. 1. The system is composed of three (HE-1) where it is partially condensed. The
sub-systems: the test section, the cooling medium uncondensed vapor, which leaves the main test
S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160 153

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the test section.

154 S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

Table 1
Summary of experimental conditions

System Steam Steamair

Pressure, bar 0.160.22 0.190.33

Feed flow rate, kg/h 5.228.49 5.2411.3
Air flow rate, kg/h 0.075 2.34, 4.61
Heat load, kW 3.435.54 1.945.89
Vapor inlet temp., C 56.663.18 52.7365
Vapor outlet temp., C 55.6862.12 43.7757.2
Coolrant flow rate, l/min 1020 1020

section, passes to a total condenser (HE-2), which

is directly cooled by the refrigeration loop. The
condensate produced in HE-1 and HE-2 is either
passed separately to measurement vessels V-3 Fig. 2. Schematic diagram of the test section.
and V-4 or they are combined. In either case, they
are collected in a condensate buffer vessel (V-5)
and recirculated to the boiling vessel (V-9). experimental measurements. The energy balance
Non-condensing gases are vented from the sys- is shown in Fig. 2, which shows a schematic
tem through a liquid ring pump. Measurements of diagram of the test section illustrating the inlet
temperatures and pressures were taken at various and outlet streams.
positions in the flow loop. All measurements of The energy balance calculations are based on
the thermocouples were collected and viewed the amount of condensate collected and the
with the SCAN1000 data acquisition system. cooling water flow rate. The heat gained by the
When steady-state conditions were reached in the cooling water can be calculated directly from the
test section, then the measurements could be flow rate of the coolant, which is measured by a
taken by setting the SCAN1000 to record flow meter, the specific heat capacity of the
mode. After completion of the measurements, water, and the inlet and outlet coolant tempera-
the system could be switched back to normal by tures. The energy transferred from the vapor side
setting the SCAN1000 to monitor mode. is calculated by measuring the condensation flow
The experimental work was carried out rate and using the latent heat of vaporization of
according to the procedures described earlier, and the condensate mixture. This is corrected by
all runs were conducted under reduced pressure. calculating the sensible heat changes of the vapor
Some of these runs were immediately rejected mixture and the condensate, as shown in Eq. (1).
because they were too close to the flooding point.
The main conditions under which data were
measured are summarized in Table 1.

2.2. Description of energy balance

The overall energy balance of the test section
was carried out to confirm the reliability of the
S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160 155

The condensate temperature at the bottom of the It is clear from this equation that, once the
test section was estimated using the bottom wall heat flux and wall temperatures are known, the
temperature and the saturation temperature at the heat transfer coefficients may be evaluated. Now,
vapor inlet: if the temperature difference between the wall
and the annulus (Tw,i!Tcool,i) is very high, then the
coolant side heat transfer coefficient "cool,i is very
(2) low and, hence, the resistance to heat transfer is
very high. On the other hand, if (Tw,i!Tcool,i) is
very low, then the condensing side heat transfer
2.3. Energy balance results coefficient is very low, and therefore this side
provides the dominant resistance to heat transfer.
An energy balance for each experiment over
the test tube was carried out on the condensing
vapor and coolant pump-around to assess the 2.4. Temperature profiles
quality of the experimental data. Fig. 3 shows that
Figs. 46 show typical temperature profiles
the energy balance are within 15% for all runs.
for steam and steamair experiments, respect-
There are six measurements of the wall and
ively. For pure steam experiments, the change in
annulus temperatures, (Tw)i=1,2,...,6 and (Tcool)i=1,2,...,6,
the vapor temperature is small and, with the fact
respectively. The measurement of the change of
that the vapor phase is never too far from satu-
enthalpy of the coolant in each interval allows the
ration, it follows that the composition of the
heat flux to be evaluated in each interval and the
steam must remain nearly constant. There is a
measurements of wall temperature can be used to
small drop in measured vapor temperature that
calculate the individual heat transfer coefficients
does not occur in the saturation value and,
of coolant and vapor sides in each interval.
therefore, does not arise from the drop in pressure
Assuming that there are no heat losses to the
or increase in the concentration of air with
ambient, the following expression gives the heat
condensation, but may show a change in the
flux for any interval:
degree of superheating of the vapor.
The effect of non-condensing gas (air) on the
(3) condensation process is examined by introducing
air into the system through the nozzle box. An air
flowrate of 2.34 kg/h and 4.6 kg/h was used in the
steamair mixture runs.
The change in the vapor temperature is much
greater than that of the steam only runs. This is
expected behavior because of the accumulation of
the non-condensing gases (air) as the conden-
sation process proceeds, which reduces the steam
partial pressure in the gas phase and, hence,
decreases the steam condensing temperature. The
second important observation is that the reduction
in condensation temperature on the vapor side
becomes much larger than in the case of the
steam only runs. This reveals that an extra resis-
Fig. 3. Energy balance across the test tube. tance has been added to the condensing side due
156 S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

Fig. 4. Temperature profile for

pure steam runs.

Fig. 5. Temperature profile for

steamair runs.

Fig. 6. Temperature profile for

steamair runs.
S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160 157

to the presence of the non-condensing gases, and six different intervals during experimental runs,
this resistance is much larger than that due to the the heat load can be estimated using the following
condensate. equation applied in each interval:

3. Results (4)

3.1. Heat flux variation along the test tube

It is necessary to determine the variation of the Therefore, there are six heat fluxes to be deter-
heat flux along the test tube, which, together with mined and used to obtain the known total heat
the wall temperature variations, allows an evalu- load on the coolant side:
ation of the heat transfer resistances present on
both the condensing and coolant sides of the test
tube wall. This flux is inversely proportional to
the magnitude of the overall heat transfer resis-
tance. The condensing side resistance consists of In the approach followed, the coolant side heat
two parts: the resistance due to the gas film and transfer coefficient must be assumed to be con-
the resistance due to the condensate film. Gas stant along the length of the test tube. This is a
side heat transfer resistance is clearly found in weakness of the present work because there are
condensation of a pure vapor from a non- opposing demands on the coolant flow. To ensure
condensing gas. The gas side resistance vanishes this constancy, it is desirable to have a high
and can be considered to be negligible in flowrate, fully developed flow and the absence of
condensation of a pure vapor. Therefore, experi- developing boundary layers. On the other hand,
ments with condensation of steam alone are used there is no chance then to achieve a measurable
to characterize the heat transfer resistance of the temperature change for energy balance purposes
condensate film. or, more seriously, to provide a uniform and large
Two approaches were considered: a differ- temperature driving force without a temperature
ential and an integral approach. They are best pinch.
understood by considering the unit to be a single Unfortunately, since the measured intermedi-
interval in which inlet and outlet coolant tempera- ate coolant temperatures, Tcool,i, did not give
tures are known, together with the wall and reliable heat loads in each interval, they are based
annulus temperatures, the latter defining the on the mean of the coolant inlet and outlet
temperature driving force. In the differential temperatures for the interval:
approach (the coolant energy balance), Eq. (7)
defines the heat load and Eq. (4) defines the (6)
coolant heat transfer coefficient. In the integral
approach, the annulus temperature is not con-
sidered as measured with sufficient accuracy to For each interval, i, the heat load can also be
provide consistent behavior, and it is replaced determined by the energy balance [Eq. (5)], using
with the average coolant temperature in the coolant inlet and outlet temperatures by the
interval. Thus, in the analysis by the integral following expression:
approach, the intermediate measurements of the
coolant temperatures in the analysis are not used. (7)
Since the temperatures of the wall and annulus
of the test section are measured and recorded for Combining Eqs. (4) and (7) gives an expression
158 S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

for the outlet coolant temperature of interval i,

which is the inlet temperature of the next interval



Fig. 7. Typical variation of the heat load along the test

(9) tube.

Eqs. (8) and (9) above are solved using an in the concentration of the non-condensing gas
iterative procedure where repeated estimates are (air). The trend is reversed from the case of con-
made of the coolant heat transfer coefficient until densation of a pure species where the heat trans-
the measured and calculated heat loads agree: fer coefficient is smaller at the bottom of the tube.

3.2. Condensate heat transfer coefficients

The local condensate film heat transfer coeffi-
Although differential behavior has been aban-
cient ("cond,i) in each interval of the test section
doned, this approach is considered reasonable.
can be calculated for the steam-only experiments
The rather high coolant flow rates result in rather
from the measurement of local heat flux ( ) and
small coolant temperature changes, and neither
wall temperature, Tw, because there is no gas-side
the averaging process nor the assumption of
resistance to heat transfer:
constant heat transfer coefficient should then be
too serious.
Fig. 7 shows a typical variation of the heat
load along the test tube for steam-only and
steamair experiments. For steam experiments
only, the general trend of all runs shows that heat
load decreases towards the bottom of the test
tube. This is because of an increase in the
condensate film thickness, which increases the
heat transfer resistance on the condensing side.
The presence of non-condensing gas on the
local heat flux along the test tube shows a
reduction in the heat flux toward the top of the This approach is based on the assumption of
tube. This reveals that the condensing side heat negligible gas-side resistance and linear vapor
transfer coefficient decreases sharply toward the temperature profile. The latter assumption is
top of the condenser resulting from the increase reasonable because the exchanger is divided into
S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160 159

4. Conclusions
Two sets of data were obtained in the
experimental work. These are the condensation of
pure steam and steamair mixtures under reduced
pressure. Analysis of reflux condenser data
showed agreement with energy balances of 15%
for steam and steamair experiments. The most
significant contribution to the errors is the energy
balance on the coolant side where the temperature
rise is too small to give good precision due to
Fig. 8. Variation of heat transfer coefficients from top of error in temperature measurement.
tube for steam-only runs. Reliable measurements are reported for the
wall temperatures, which characterize the resis-
tances to heat and mass transfer on the con-
densing side.
In the steam runs, the gas side heat transfer
resistance was negligibly small and this explains
why the wall temperature measurements approach
the vapor temperature at the top of the test tube.
When air was introduced, the resistance to heat
and mass transfer on the condensing side in-
creased, particularly toward the top part of the
tube. This was due to accumulation of the non-
condensing gas (air) near the surface as the
Fig. 9. Variation of condensate heat transfer coefficients
from top of tube for steam-only runs. condensation process proceeds, which acted as an
extra resistance to heat transfer and decreased the
rate of condensation of steam. In the steamair
relatively small increments and the temperature runs, the gas side resistance never became fully
profile in each stream is essentially linear. The controlling, contributing at most about 50% of the
latter assumption was used to obtain a relation- overall resistance. However, near the vapor out-
ship between gas temperature and tube length, let, the wall temperature measurements decreased
which can be used to determine the local gas sharply and sometimes approached the coolant
temperature, Tgi. temperature, showing almost full gas side control.
Figs. 8 and 9 show the variation of the con- The heat load distribution along the test tube
densate heat transfer coefficient with tube length. showed that, for steam-only runs, most of heat
As can be seen in the figures, the calculated was removed at the tube outlet. This was due to
values of ranged from 3,500 to 10,000 W/m2 K. the large temperature driving force between the
The general trend shows a decrease in the local gas phase and coolant. In addition, the heat and
heat transfer coefficient towards the bottom of the mass transfer resistances remained nearly con-
tube. This occurs because the condensate film stant toward the top of the tube. On the other
originates at the top and becomes thicker toward hand, for steamair, most of the heat load was
the bottom of the tube, which increases the resis- exchanged at the bottom of the tube. This resulted
tance to heat transfer. from the increase in heat and mass transfer
160 S.B. Al-Shammari et al. / Desalination 169 (2004) 151160

resistances toward the tube outlet, which reduced "cool Local coolant heat transfer co-
the heat and mass transfer rates in the top section efficient, W/m2k
of the tube. "
6 cool Average coolant heat transfer co-
Thus, a wealth of reliable data has been efficient, W/m2k
measured that can be used to assess the methods ' Mass flowrate per unit peri-
that are available for the prediction of the heat meter, kg/m s
and mass transfer processes.
Dimensionless groups
5. Symbols Nu Nusselt number
Re Reynolds number
A Heat transfer area, m2
Reg Reynold number of the inlet
cp Specific heat capacity. J/kg.K
Molar heat capacity, J/kmol.K
Molar latent heat of vaporiza-
tion, J/kmol
Latent heat of vaporization, J/kg References
i Component number
L Length, m [1] W.J. Minkowycz and E.M. Sparrow, Int. J. Heat
Mass flow rate, kg/s Mass Transfer, 9 (1966) 1125.
Molar mass, kg/kmol [2] E.M. Sparrow and E. Marschall, Binary, gravity-
n Number of components flow film condensation. Trans. ASME, 92 (1969)
q0 Heat flux, kW/m2
[3] D. Rashtchian and D.R. Webb, Condensation of
q0 o Heat flux to coolant, kW/m2 steam from mixtures with air in a shell and tube
q0 s Heat flux towards interface, exchange at atmospheric and reduced pressures.
kW/m2 Chem. Engineer. Res. Design, 65 (1987) 157.
Total heat load, kW [4] B. Mazzarotta and E. Sebastiani, Process design of
sf, st Thickness of heat and mass trans- condensers for vapor mixtures in the presence of
fer films, m non-condensable gases. Can. J. Chem. Eng., 73
T Temperature, C (1995) 456.
T0 Temperature at the wall, C [5] P.F. Peterson, V.E. Schrock and T. Kageyama,
)T Temperature difference, K Diffusion layer theory for turbulent vapor conden-
)TLMTD Logarithmic mean temperature sation with non-condensable gases. J. Heat Transfer,
115 (1993) 98103.
difference, K
[6] W. Nusselt, Surface condensation of water vapor. Z.
Vapor fraction of component i Ver. Deut. Ing., 60 (1916) 541546.
[7] ESDU, Reflux condensation in vertical tube. Engi-
Greek neering Sciences Data Unit. ESDU International Plc,
Item No. 89038, 1989.
"c Condensate heat transfer coeffi- [8] P.L. Kapitsa, Collected Papers by P.L. Kapitsa,
cient, W/m2k Vol. 2, New York, Pergamon Press, 1965.