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Vacuum Operation of a Thermosyphon Reboiler

[+] Author Affiliations
Peter John Heggs

The University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

Abdelmadjid Alane

BP plc, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, UK

Paper No. IHTC14-22373, pp. 331-341; 11 pages
  • 2010 14th International Heat Transfer Conference
  • 2010 14th International Heat Transfer Conference, Volume 4
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 8–13, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4939-2 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3879-2
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


The research facility at the University of Manchester in the Morton Laboratory is a full scale replica of an industrial sized natural circulation thermosyphon reboiler, which comprises 50 tubes of 3 m length and 25.4 mm OD. The facility is operated under vacuum. Water is used as the process fluid and condensing steam is the heating source. Experimental datasets were obtained for the reboiler and have been presented in the form of profile plots of feed rate, fluid recirculation, recirculation ratio and vapour quality. The data elucidate the effect of pressure [0.1 to 1.0 bar] and heat duties [78 to 930 kW] on the performance of the reboiler. Three distinct modes of operation have been observed. Mode one is defined as a flow-induced instability or geysering (low heat duty) and exists below a definite transitional point that is independent of process pressure. Mode two is a region of stable operation that occurs above the threshold of the flow-induced instability, while mode three, which is defined as the heat-induced instability (density-wave instability), is pressure dependent obtained at high duties and is characterised by violent oscillations. These instability thresholds represent the lower and upper limits of operation of the reboiler. The region of stable operation is enveloped between the two limits and is very dependent on process pressure as it progressively becomes smaller as the vacuum becomes lower. These studies led to unique experimental observations, which revealed the existence of intermittent reversed flow in the entire loop. The use of throttling in the heat-induced unstable region to return to stable operation tends to be over a narrow range, outside of which the sole way to regain stability is to lower the heat load or increase the process pressure. In the region of flow-induced instability, throttling the fluid at the inlet is useless and actually makes the situation worse. These instabilities are alleviated by increasing the heat load.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Vacuum



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