Politics, Religion, or Engineering – Which is Best for Your Condenser?

Harpster, T.J. & Harpster, J.W.

“Politics, Religion or Engineering – Which is Best for Your Condenser?” EPRI Condenser

Technology  Conference, St. Petersburg, FL, August 12-14, 2008.


It is known that many condensers are not operating at their design performance point, and there are many reasons recognized and understood to cause performance degradation.  Chronic poor performance exists in many condenser designs, despite the fact that, in the design process, a cleanliness factor is used to diminish the condenser tube heat transfer coefficient.  The resulting additional condensing surface area is therefore necessary to account for conditions other than tube fouling in an attempt to ensure that the performance goal is achieved. A means to identify and accurately quantify condenser performance deficiencies is needed and can only be aided when adequate condenser measurements are are employed and practices of the past are rejected.

This paper provides engineering guidance and describes root causes of excess condenser back pressure and condensate chemistry upsets. Condenser monitoring data from operating plants will be used to illustrate these root causes and provide operating guidelines based on sound engineering principles. The paper also presents results from a condenser before and after a performance improvement condenser retrofit. Some of the results include: reduced condensate dissolved oxygen, performance factor increase, equivalent back pressure reduction, heat rate reduction and increase in effectiveness of noncondensable removal.

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