How Water-cooled Condensers Work?

What is a water-cooled condenser?

A water-cooled condenser employs water as a cooling medium, and the heat of condensation is transferred away through the temperature rise of the water. Cooling water can come from various sources, including tap water, river water, and lake water.

The cooling water can either be used once (direct-current water supply) or be recycled. When the cooling water is reused, the system requires a cooling tower or a cold water pool.

What are the three types of water-cooled condensers?

Based on the structure of the water-cooled condenser, it can be classified into three types: shell and tube condenser, tube in tube condenser, and brazed plate heat exchanger

1.  Shell and Tube Condenser

The shell and tube condenser is divided into two categories: vertical and horizontal and horizontal shell-and-tube condenser.

It is made up of a shell, a tube sheet, and a tube bundle (heat transfer surface). The shell body is constructed from steel plates welded together, with tube sheets sealing both ends of the shell. The tubes are then expanded or welded onto the tube sheets to form a tube bundle.

The vertical shell-and-tube condenser has a nozzle with a chute at the tube entrance, allowing cooling water to flow along the tangential direction into the tube.

For the horizontal shell-and-tube condenser, the outside of the tube sheet is covered with a cap, and a water separator in the cap separates all the tube bundles into several processes.

Horizontal Shell And Tube Condenser

Horizontal Shell And Tube Condenser

2. Tube in Tube Condenser

The tube in tube condenser uses a large-diameter metal tube (usually a seamless steel tube) to encase one or more small-diameter copper tubes. The refrigerant enters from the top of the space outside the small tube in the large tube, while the cooling water flows from the bottom to the top in the small tube. The heat exchange occurs in opposite directions, and the heat transfer effect is better.

Tube In Tube Condenser

Tube In Tube Condenser

3. Brazed Plate Heat Exchanger

A brazed plate heat exchanger is a modern and efficient heat exchanger, consisting of multiple corrugated metal sheets that are stacked and brazed together. These sheets create thin rectangular channels between them, which facilitate heat exchange. Compared to traditional shell-and-tube heat exchangers, brazed plate heat exchangers offer significantly higher heat transfer coefficients for the same level of flow resistance and pump power consumption. As a result, they are increasingly replacing shell-and-tube heat exchangers within their range of applicability.

How does the water-cooled condenser works?

A water-cooled condenser functions as a heat exchanger by extracting heat from refrigerant vapor and transferring it to water that circulates through the condenser. This process is achieved by condensing the refrigerant vapor on the external surface of a tube, which causes the vapor to condense and release heat to the water that flows inside the tube.

The scope and advantages of water-cooled condenser

  1. Water-cooled condensers are mainly suitable for large-scale refrigeration devices such as centrifugal compressors and screw compressors;
  2. The advantage of the water-cooled condenser is that its heat transfer efficiency is relatively high and its structure is very compact;

Disadvantages of water-cooled condensers

The disadvantage of the water-cooled condenser is that it needs to be equipped with a cooling water system. Scaling on the tube wall will reduce the heat transfer effect, so it must be cleaned regularly.

What temperature is a water-cooled condenser?

Using a water-cooled condenser, the condensation temperature is about 5~7C higher than the ambient wet bulb temperature. Generally, the condensing temperature limit of the refrigeration system is not higher than 55°C and not lower than 20°C. Generally, water-cooled condensers are not recommended in areas where the ambient wet bulb temperature exceeds 42C. So whether you can choose a water-cooled condenser, you must first confirm the ambient wet bulb temperature.

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