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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Heat Transfer Technology
Question: Can condensate control in a reboiler cause water hammer problems?
Keywords: v1i16,reboiler,control,level,water,hammer
Answer: This topic was recently discussed in our online forum. The short answer to this specific question is..."not very often". It's very common to control reboilers on distillation columns via this method. This is not to say that this control method is the best for any heat exchanger using steam for heating. For example, if there is an appreciable degree of subcooling of the condensate, the incoming steam can experience "collapse" (or thermal water hammer) when it comes in contact with the cool condensate. In reboilers, the process fluid is simply being vaporized so little or no subcooling of the condensate takes place. This makes for a good opportunity for condensate level control in a vertically-oriented shell and tube reboiler. The level controller is typically placed on a vessel that is installed in conjunction with the shell side of the reboiler. This will allow for full condensate drainage (if necessary) and there's no need to weld on the shell of the exchanger. (See graphic below)Reference: Cheresources Message Board