Primary Design Problems

Heat Transfer This is the most important single factor in evaporator design, since the heating surface represents the largest part of evaporator cost. Other things being equal, the type of evaporator selected is the one having the highest heat-transfer cost coefficient under desired operating conditions in terms of J/sK (British thermal units per hour per degree Fahrenheit) per dollar of installed cost. When power is required to induce circulation past the heating surface, the coefficient must be even higher to offset the cost of power for circulation.

Vapor-Liquid Separation This design problem may be important for a number of reasons. The most important is usually prevention of entrainment because of value of product lost, pollution, contamination of the condensed vapor, or fouling or corrosion of the surfaces on which the vapor is condensed. Vapor-liquid separation in the vapor head may also be important when spray forms deposits on the walls, when vortices increase head requirements of circulating pumps, and when short circuiting allows vapor or unflashed liquid to be carried back to the circulating pump and heating element.

Evaporator performance is rated on the basis of steam economy— kilograms of solvent evaporated per kilogram of steam used. Heat is required (1) to raise the feed from its initial temperature to the boiling temperature, (2) to provide the minimum thermodynamic energy to separate liquid solvent from the feed, and (3) to vaporize the solvent. The first of these can be changed appreciably by reducing the boiling temperature or by heat interchange between the feed and the residual product and/or condensate. The greatest increase in steam economy is achieved by reusing the vaporized solvent. This is done in a multiple-effect evaporator by using the vapor from one effect as the heating medium for another effect in which boiling takes place at a lower temperature and pressure. Another method of increasing the utilization of energy is to employ a thermocompression evaporator, in which the vapor is compressed so that it will condense at a temperature high enough to permit its use as the heating medium in the same evaporator.

Selection Problems Aside from heat-transfer considerations, the selection of type of evaporator best suited for a particular service is governed by the characteristics of the feed and product. Points that must be considered are crystallization, salting and scaling, product quality, corrosion, and foaming. In the case of a crystallizing evaporator, the desirability of producing crystals of a definite uniform size usually limits the choice to evaporators having a positive means of circulation. Salting, which is the growth on body and heating-surface walls of a material having a solubility that increases with increase in temperature, is frequently encountered in crystallizing evaporators. It can be reduced or eliminated by keeping the evaporating liquid in close or frequent contact with a large surface area of crystallized solid. Scaling is the deposition and growth on body walls, and especially on heating surfaces, of a material undergoing an irreversible chemical reaction in the evaporator or having a solubility that decreases with an increase in temperature. Scaling can be reduced or eliminated in the same general manner as salting. Both salting and scaling liquids are usually best handled in evaporators that do not depend on boiling to induce circulation. Fouling is the formation of deposits other than salt or scale and may be due to corrosion, solid matter entering with the feed, or deposits formed by the condensing vapor.

Product Quality Considerations of product quality may require low holdup time and low-temperature operation to avoid thermal degradation. The low holdup time eliminates some types of evaporators, and some types are also eliminated because of poor heat-transfer characteristics at low temperature. Product quality may also dictate special materials of construction to avoid metallic contamination or a catalytic effect on decomposition of the product. Corrosion may also influence evaporator selection, since the advantages of evaporators having high heat-transfer coefficients are more apparent when expensive materials of construction are indicated. Corrosion and erosion are frequently more severe in evaporators than in other types of equipment because of the high liquid and vapor velocities used, the frequent presence of solids in suspension, and the necessary concentration differences.

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