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40 www.cepmagazine.

org February 2003 CEP

Heat Transfer
ell-run plants often have personnel dedi-
cated to monitoring process heat exchang-
er performance and recommending correc-
tive actions when needed. However, many facilities fre-
quently pay less attention to steam generation and to the
heat exchangers within the boiler system. A common
steam-recovery method, especially at plants that cogen-
erate power, is to pass the turbine exhaust steam through
a water-cooled condenser the performance of which,
or lack thereof, can cost a plant many thousands of dol-
lars per year in lost efficiency. This article outlines im-
portant aspects of condenser performance monitoring
and provides the code for a short, simple computer pro-
gram that can be used to track peformance.
Condenser scaling and fouling mechanisms
Cooling water inltration into steam systems can
cause many problems. Typical cooling waters contain the
hardness ions, calcium and magnesium, and other cations
such as sodium and potassium, all of which are counter-
balanced by bicarbonate, chloride and sulfate anions.
Groundwaters usually contain higher concentrations of
dissolved ions, while surface waters are often softer but
typically contain suspended solids, organic compounds
and numerous microorganisms. Silica is another prob-
lematic contaminant, and in some areas of the country,
silica concentrations in groundwater exceed 50 ppm.
Many compounds formed by the reaction between
these ions are inversely soluble that is, they begin to
precipitate as temperature increases. These include
some of the hardness compounds, such as calcium car-
bonate (CaCO
), and silicates, including magnesium
silicate (MgSiO
). Because the cooling water tempera-
ture rises in the condenser, the condenser is susceptible
to scaling. Problems may be more severe in open recir-
culating systems (cooling towers), where the concen-
trations of impurities multiply depending upon the cy-
cles of concentration. Calcium phosphate (Ca
is a major scale-former in these systems due to the
breakdown of phosphate-based scale or corrosion in-
hibitors. Scale has very poor heat-transfer properties,
and even a thin scale layer will seriously retard heat
exchange in the condenser.
Waterside fouling is often caused by poor microbio-
logical treatment of the cooling water. Once microbes at-
tach to the tube walls, they secrete a sticky, protective
lm that increases the deposit volume. This layer in turn
absorbs silt and other debris from the cooling water, fur-
ther increasing the deposit mass. Like scale, microbio-
logical foulants seriously retard heat transfer. Microbial
formations also may initiate corrosion due to oxygen
differentials that develop between the aerated cooling
water and the oxygen-decient zone under the deposit.
Many microbes produce acids as part of their metabolic
processes, and the acids, which are trapped beneath the
deposit, can directly attack the tube material.
Excess air leakage into a condenser represents an-
other potentially serious heat-transfer problem. Air en-
ters a steam-generating system at points around the
condenser due to the strong vacuum generated within
the system. Prime spots for in-leakage include the ex-
pansion joint between the turbine and condenser, pene-
trations of heater drip lines into the condenser shell,
turbine seals and explosion diaphragms, and conden-
sate pump seals. Air in-leakage is virtually impossible
to prevent, but the effects are manageable under nor-
mal conditions. Most condensers are equipped with
one or more air-removal compartments, in which a me-
chanical vacuum is applied to remove gases that enter
the condenser. When the air-removal system functions
properly, dissolved oxygen concentrations in the con-
densate may be as low as 7 ppb. However, structural
An effective monitoring program can extend
equipment life, improve operations, and yield
substantial energy savings.
Track Condenser
Brad Buecker,
Kansas City Power and Light Co.
CEP February 2003 www.cepmagazine.org 41
failures in the condenser shell or other mechanical prob-
lems can increase air in-leakage, sometimes very rapidly
and to a point where the air-removal system becomes over-
whelmed. Some of the excess air coats the condenser
tubes, seriously inhibiting heat transfer.
The thermodynamics of fouling and air blanketing
Instead of condensing turbine exhaust steam, why
not transport it directly back to the boiler? The main
reason (in addition to the obvious piping difficulties)
relates to efficiency.
Consider, for the sake of simplicity, a turbine with no
frictional, heat or other losses, and thus no entropy change.
(In actuality, turbines are typically 80% to 90% efficient,
but this does not need to be included here to demonstrate
the importance of condenser performance.) The turbine op-
erating conditions are: inlet steam pressure = 1,500 psig,
inlet steam temperature = 1,000F, and outlet steam pres-
sure = atmospheric (14.7 psia).
The energy equation for steady-state ow, which is
common in a turbine, is w
= m(h
), where w
the work produced by the turbine, mis the mass owrate of
steam, h
is the enthalpy of the inlet steam, and h
the enthalpy of the outlet steam. At these conditions, the
enthalpy of the inlet steam is 1,490.5 Btu/lbm and the exit-
ing enthalpy is 1,050.5 Btu/lbm. So, the maximum unit
work from the turbine is w
/m= 1,490.5 Btu/lbm 1,050.5
Btu/lbm = 440 Btu/lbm. To put this into practical perspec-
tive, assume the steam ow to be 1 million lb/h. The over-
all work is then 440 million Btu/h = 128.9 MW.
Now consider a system with a condenser that reduces the
turbine exhaust pressure to 1 psia. Again assuming no en-
tropy change through the turbine, the enthalpy of the turbine
exhaust is 898.0 Btu/lbm. The unit work output is 1,490.5
898.0 = 592.5 Btu/lbm. For a 1 million lb/h turbine, the total
work is 592.5 million Btu/h = 173.6 MW. The turbine output
is 44.7 MW, or 35%, greater. Clearly, condensation of the
steam has a signicant effect on efficiency.
Lets look at the situation in reverse, where waterside
fouling or scaling (or excess air in-leakage) causes the con-
denser pressure to increase from 1 psia to 2 psia. The work
from the turbine is reduced to 557.2 Btu/lbm. So, in a 1 mil-
lion lb/h system, an increase in the condenser backpressure
from 1 psia to 2 psia results in a loss of 35.3 million Btu/h,
or 10.3 MW, of work. This dramatically
illustrates the importance of proper con-
denser performance monitoring.
Techniques for monitoring
condenser performance
Various methods are available to
evaluate condenser performance. The
simplest is to record the condenser
backpressure and watch for any signi-
cant changes over time.
Another common technique is monitoring of the cooling
water inlet, cooling water outlet, and condensed steam
temperatures. Changes in these values, especially those of
the terminal temperature difference (TTD) i.e., the dif-
ference between the condensed steam temperature and
cooling water outlet temperature reect changes in con-
denser performance.
Consider the data shown in Table 1, which is taken
from the log sheet of an actual condenser. The tubes
were relatively clean when the first set of data was col-
lected, but had become fouled with microbiological de-
posits by the time of the second reading. The cooling
water inlet temperature during the second reading is
higher due to summer warming. This alone would have
an effect on outlet and condensed steam temperatures,
but the important thing is the change in the TTD. Under
normal conditions, the TTD will remain nearly constant.
Here it increased significantly because of the reduction
in heat transfer due to the deposits.
Monitoring for air in-leakage is also important. At
many plants, the discharge line from the condenser air-
removal section is equipped with a bypass loop contain-
ing a flowmeter. Plant operators should routinely check
the air flowrate from the condenser. The Heat Exchange
Institute (HEI) suggests that the flowrate should average
at or below 1 scfm per 100 MW of output. However,
conditions vary from unit to unit. It is more important to
establish baseline data during normal operation and then
watch for changes.
Computer-aided monitoring
Fouled or scaled condenser tubes, air in-leakage, and
cooling water ow restrictions will all cause an increase in
the TTD. However, condenser performance problems may
go undetected because changes in tube conditions are often
gradual. Several computer programs can be used to accu-
rately track condenser performance.
One such program (developed at the authors for-
mer utility) is based on technical data supplied by the
General Physics Corp. (1). The program, whose calcu-
lations are outlined in Tables 2 and 3, can be easily
written into a spreadsheet with a log sheet included.
The following simple-to-obtain data are required for
the calculations:
Table 1. Condenser data indicate changes in performance.
Date July 11 Aug 16
Unit Load, MW 185.0 190.0
Cooling Water Inlet Temperature, F 80.0 88.5
Cooling Water Outlet Temperature, F 96.0 106.5
Condensed Steam Temperature, F 106.0 128.0
Terminal Temperature Difference (TTD), F 10.0 21.5
cooling water density (lb/ft
cooling water heat capacity (Btu/lb-F)
cooling water inlet temperature (TIN, F)
cooling water outlet temperature (TOUT, F)
condensed steam temperature (TSAT, F)
cooling water owrate (FLOW, gal/min)
cooling water correction factor (CWCF, from Table 3)
condenser tube correction factor (CTCF, from Table 3)
number of (unplugged) condenser tubes (NT)
number of tube passes (NP)
inside tube diameter (ID, in.)
outside tube diameter (OD, in.)
tube length (L, ft)
a constant (C, from Table 3).
Because the tube dimensions for any condenser are con-
stant, the program can be simplied by including xed values
for tube length, i.d., o.d., number of tubes, and number of tube
passes. In addition, the density of water decreases by only
0.5% over the temperature range of 40F to 90F, so a con-
stant value for water density can be used without noticeably
affecting the calculation. The same is true for cooling water
heat capacity. Guidelines for selecting the cooling water cor-
rection factor, condenser tube correction factor, and the cor-
rection factor C are outlined in Table 3. These values help
the program account for changes in condenser design and
changes in cooling water inlet temperature. For any particular
condenser, C and the condenser tube correction factor are con-
stant, and may be permanently placed in the program.
The program calculates an ideal heat-transfer coefficient
), which it then compares to a calculated actual heat-
transfer coefficient (U
). The inverse of this value multi-
plied by 100 is known as the cleanliness factor.
When condenser tubes are placed in service, they quick-
ly develop an oxide coating. This coating, which helps pro-
tect the metal substrate from corrosion, retards heat trans-
fer. Thus, a condenser free from mineral or microbiological
deposits will still only achieve about 85% of the ideal heat
transfer. A cleanliness factor of 85% indicates non-fouled
condenser tubes.
The program will detect changes in condenser perfor-
mance due to scaling, microbiological fouling or excess air
in-leakage. For example, the condenser operating data out-
lined in Table 1 correspond to cleanliness factors of 70.3%
for the rst set of data and 43.7% for the second set. This
was consistent with the change in TTD and before-and-
after visual tube inspections.
An important issue with this program is accurate tem-
perature readings. The literature suggests that inlet and out-
let cooling water may stratify and give different tempera-
ture readings at the pipe wall than in the center. This will
affect absolute values, although the program may still be
used successfully to identify trends.
Also, results are most accurate and consistent when the
system is operating at high load. This allows the observer
to notice subtle trends. As one of the following examples
illustrates, however, the program can also detect problems
during low-load operation.
The program was originally used to monitor the perfor-
mance of three electric utility condensers over a ve-year
period. Following the initial publication of the results, it
was adopted by other utilities as well.
Example 1. Cleanliness factor analyses of a utilitys largest
condenser, rated at 870,000 lb/h, were conducted three times a
week. Readings were consistently in the mid-70% range for
several months, but suddenly they dropped to 45%. Waterside
scaling and fouling rarely occur with such rapidity. Such dras-
tic changes more likely indicate excess air in-leakage.
When maintenance personnel inspected the condenser,
they discovered a crack in the condenser shell where a
heater drip line penetrates. Once they sealed this crack, the
cleanliness factors returned to their previous values, where
they remained for two months until they suddenly dropped
again. The seal had failed. The maintenance crew then
welded a collar around the drip line, which totally sealed
the crack and cured the problem.
Example 2. In another instance, thrice-weekly readings
on two 477,000-lb/h condensers indicated good perfor-
mance. Suddenly, one condenser began performing errati-
cally. At full unit load, the cleanliness factors ranged be-
tween 70% and 75%, but at low loads the factor dropped to
as low as 18%. Again, such uctuations could not have
been the result of waterside fouling.
A leak detection contractor was hired to look for air
Heat Transfer
42 www.cepmagazine.org February 2003 CEP
Table 2. Calculations for spreadsheet
program to monitor condenser performance.
Log mean temperature difference in the condenser (F):
Heat transfer in condenser (Btu/h):
Q = 499.7*FLOW*(TOUT TIN) (2)
Actual heat-transfer coefficient (Btu/h-F-ft
= Q/(DTLM*[3.14159*(OD/12)]*L*NT) (3)
Cooling water linear velocity (ft/s):
= (0.002228*FLOW)/((3.14159*(ID/24)
)*(NT/NP)) (4)
Ideal heat-transfer coefficient (Btu/h-F-ft
= C*(V
Design heat-transfer coefficient (Btu/h-F-ft
= U
Cleanliness factor :
CF = (U
)*100 (7)
The constant 499.7 in Eq. 2 is the multiplication of constants for water density
(62.3 lb/ft
), water heat capacity (1.00 Btu/lb-F), water volume conversion
(1 ft
= 7.48 gal) and 60 min/h.
The constant 0.002228 in Eq. 4 is the multiplication of the water volume
conversion (1 ft
= 7.48 gal) and 60 s/min.
leaks. The inspectors used helium leak detection to com-
pletely check the condenser and low-pressure end of the
turbine. They classied leaks as large, medium and small,
and found over a dozen leaks, including two large ones,
one of which was a crack in the expansion joint between
the turbine exhaust and condenser. Maintenance crews re-
paired all the leaks, but that did not solve the problem.
Finally, an operator discovered that a trap on a line from
the gland steam exhauster to the main condenser was sticking
open at low loads. The gland steam exhauster condenses used
steam from the turbine seals before it is returned to the steam
generator. The exhauster is also equipped with a vent to dis-
charge non-condensible gases to the atmosphere. When the
condensate trap stuck open, the strong vacuum from the main
condenser pulled outside air in through
the vent. Once maintenance personnel re-
placed the trap, the condenser perfor-
mance problems disappeared.
Example 3. The 870,000-lb/h con-
denser mentioned in the rst example
had been in operation for ten years but
had never suffered from scaling. It is a
once-though condenser and takes cool-
ing water comes from a lake. During
one very dry summer, the lake volume
decreased dramatically, and lab chemists
calculated that the dissolved solids con-
centrations in the lake were four times
normal values. However, no one sus-
pected that scale formation might occur.
Throughout the summer, the cleanliness
factor declined slowly but noticeably
from around 80% to 45%. When the
unit came off-line for an autumn outage,
an inspection team found that the water-
side of the tubes was completely cov-
ered with a layer of calcium carbonate
(less than 1 mm thick). The deposits
were a direct result of the drought.
The program generates similar data
when condenser tubes accumulate micro-
biological deposits, and it can be very use-
ful for detecting the onset of microbiologi-
cal fouling and for scheduling shock chlo-
rine treatments. However, keep in mind
that once microbiological colonies become
established, shock chlorination does not al-
ways completely clean the tubes. One year,
the cleanliness factor of the 870,000-lb/h
condenser dropped from around 80% in the early spring to
40% by early summer. Past experience suggested microbiolog-
ical fouling, which turned out to be the case. In mid-summer,
plant personnel shock-chlorinated the condenser, but this only
restored the cleanliness factor to around 65%. When the main-
tenance staff opened the condenser during an autumn outage,
many slime deposits were still evident. The crew had to me-
chanically scrape the condenser tubes to restore performance
to optimum conditions. This points out the tenacity of microbi-
ological deposits.
CEP February 2003 www.cepmagazine.org 43
BRAD BUECKER (beakertoo@aol.com) is the plant chemist at Kansas City Power
and Light Co.s La Cygne, KS, power station. He has previous experience as a
chemical cleaning services engineer, a water and wastewater system
supervisor, and a consulting chemist for an engineering firm. He also served
as a results engineer, flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) engineer, and analytical
chemist for City Water, Light and Power, Springfield, IL. He has written more
than 50 articles on steam generation, water treatment and FGD chemistry,
and he is the author of three books on steam generation topics published by
PennWell Publishing, Tulsa, OK. He has a BS in chemistry from Iowa State
Univ., and is a member of AIChE, ACS, ASME and NACE.
Li t erat ure Ci t ed
1. Buecker, B., Computer Program Predicts Condenser Cleanliness,
Power Engineering, 96 (6), pp. 3940(June 1992).
Table 3. Correction factors for performance monitoring program.
Cooling Water Correction Factors (CWCF)
32 0.574 50 0.810 68 0.986 86 1.063
33 0.586 51 0.822 69 0.993 87 1.066
34 0.601 52 0.833 70 1.000 88 1.069
35 0.615 53 0.844 71 1.005 89 1.072
36 0.628 54 0.855 72 1.010 90 1.075
37 0.641 55 0.865 73 1.015 91 1.078
38 0.655 56 0.875 74 1.020 92 1.080
39 0.668 57 0.885 75 1.025 93 1.083
40 0.683 58 0.895 76 1.029 94 1.085
41 0.694 59 0.905 77 1.033 95 1.088
42 0.707 60 0.915 78 1.037 96 1.090
43 0.720 61 0.925 79 1.041 97 1.092
44 0.733 62 0.934 80 1.045 98 1.095
45 0.747 63 0.942 81 1.048 99 1.097
46 0.760 64 0.951 82 1.051 100 1.100
47 0.772 65 0.960 83 1.054
48 0.785 66 0.970 84 1.057
49 0.797 67 0.978 85 1.060
Condenser Tube Correction Factors (CTCF) Correction Factor (C)
Tube Wall Gauge, BWG Tube Outside
Material 22 20 18 Diameter, in. C
Admiralty 1.04 1.02 1.00 0.625 and 0.75 267
90-10 Cu-Ni 0.97 0.94 0.90 0.875 and 1.0 263
70-30 Cu-Ni 0.90 0.87 0.82 1.125 and 1.25 259
304 and 316 SS 0.79 0.75 0.69 1.375 and 1.5 255
Titanium 0.81 0.77 0.71 1.625 and 1.75 251
1.875 and 2.0 247