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Technical & Practical

September 1, 2011

Reboiler Condensate Drums: Silencing Hydraulic Hammer

While condensate pots are widely used, there is still much to be learned to avoid operational problems

Henry Kister,  Fluor Corp.;  Antonio João Dias Prestes and Luiza Milbroth Jorge, Braskem S.A.

Condensate pots are commonly used on the condensing sides of some reboilers, such as those that are heated by steam or refrigerant vapor. These pots provide a liquid seal that prevents uncondensed vapor from blowing out of the reboiler into the condensate system. A break in this seal can result in heat transfer losses. With steam reboilers, blowing vapor into the condensate header may also lead to hammering. Hammering may also be caused by poor design of the condensate pot.

Hammering is the problem described here. Braskem’s deethanizer reboiler-condensate drum experienced hydraulic hammering when the reboiler operated at low steam loads and when the column loads were reduced quickly. The condensate-drum level indicator was unreliable and insensitive to the variations in level-control-valve opening. Condensate-drum level control was poor, and the control valve had to be operated on manual.

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