Abstract

The flashing process is a way of exposing water in a low-pressure environment by spraying it at high pressure so that the water converts into fine particles. This process is carried out to speed up the evaporation process of water. The evaporation process carried out on freshwater aims to separate the minerals and solids dissolved in water to increase its purity. In this study, the flashing process was carried out through a rotating nozzle that was proven to increase the rate of pure water production. The flashing process experiment is carried out following an experimental design based on the non-dimensional analysis of Buckingham's pi. The rate of pure water production () as the output variable in the flashing process is affected by the nozzle rotational speed (n), nozzle hole diameter (d), feedwater pressure (Pw), vacuum pressure (Pv) and feedwater temperature (T). The feedwater temperature itself can influence the behavior of the feedwater flow in the nozzle, in this case, is density (ρ) and viscosity (μ). Based on these variables, the non-dimensional analysis of Buckingham pi has produced four dimensionless numbers. The generated empirical equations from the flashing process experiments are in the form of quadratic equations. The empirical equation applies to feedwater pressure of 7.6 bar-g, the vacuum pressure of 0.4–0.6 bar-a and nozzle rotational speed of 0–134 rpm. The optimum condensation rate in the flashing experiment was successfully obtained, especially at the nozzle rotation of 27 rpm in all vacuum pressures tested. This success is inseparable from the use of mist-nozzles that convert the feedwater flow into the mist.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Flashing purification,

  • A rotating nozzle,

  • pi Buckingham,

  • Dimensionless number,

  • The condensation rate.

INTRODUCTION

The water purification process has long been carried out to obtain clean water for various purposes such as drinking water, water for solvents, and use as working fluids in Steam Power Plants. The technique consists of a distillation process, a filtering process through a fine membrane/filter and the last is by flashing through a stationary nozzle or rotating nozzle to produce mist/vapor. The development of the water purification process using the flashing method with a rotating nozzle was successfully carried out in this study. The research begins with a flashing experiment through the stationary nozzle and continues with the use of the rotating nozzle in the flashing chamber (Sonawan et al. 2015; Sonawan & Riki 2016; Sonawan et al. 2019).

The study of flashing evaporation has been performed by many other researchers. Miyatake et al. (1981b) studied the effect of liquid temperature on the spray flash evaporation by changing jet inlet temperatures to 40 and 80 °C. From the experimental results, they generated a general empirical equation suitable for predicting the variation of liquid temperature in the center of the jet with residence time, and recommendable operating conditions are proposed (Miyatake et al. 1981a). Miyatake et al. (1981a) further have conducted an experimental study on spray flash evaporation occurring in a superheated water jet injected through a circular tube nozzle into a low-pressure vapor zone. The effects of superheat, flow rate, and nozzle diameter on spray flashing were pursued at 60 °C jet inlet temperature. From their experimental results, an empirical equation suitable for predicting the variation of liquid temperature with residence time was derived (Miyatake et al. 1981a).

A study conducted by Muthunayagam et al. (2005), El-fiqi et al. (2007), Goto et al. (2008), Mutair & Ikegami (2008) have examined the flashing process carried out with stationary nozzles. Water is sprayed up or down in a vacuum environment using a stationary nozzle. Spraying water into small particles can facilitate evaporation and increase the condensation rate.

The vapor evaporation method inside the vacuum chamber was also observed by Muthunayagam et al. (2005). The seawater is sprayed into the vacuum chamber to form fine droplets using a swirl nozzle and evaporates at low pressure. Vapor condensation is carried out in a shell and tube heat exchanger. Freshwater production reached 4% as predicted in theory and the water condensate quality is excellent. The pilot plant performance is determined for various feed water temperatures, vacuum pressures, and water injection pressures (Muthunayagam et al. 2005).

Research on flash evaporation was performed by El-Fiqi et al. (2007) as well. In their research, flashing experiments through a superheated jet nozzle were performed at low pressure. A nozzle less than 0.4 mm in diameter and an injection pressure of up to 6 bars were used in the experiment with superheated degrees between 2°K and 18°K, inlet feed temperatures varied from 40 °C to 70 °C and variations in mass flow rate. The relationship between superheated degrees and the amount of vapor can be evaluated in their study (El-Fiqi et al. 2007).

To improve vapor evaporation in the desalination system, Mutair & Ikegami (2008) conduct a study to utilize the heat of seawater. In this research, the water spraying process was conducted by using a nozzle directed vertically upward. The initial feed water temperature can increase the evaporation rate. Their study produced an empirical equation that can predict the spray distance leading to water evaporation. This equation is useful for the design of the evaporation chamber (Mutair & Ikegami 2008).

A desalination system simulation by applying spray flash was conducted by Goto et al. (2008), as well. In the simulation, freshwater was produced from the evaporation and condensation process inside the flashing chamber by utilizing water from the sea surface and condensing by cooling the vapor with cold water from the ocean. Simulation results from the proposed simulation model were compared with the experimental results of the spray flash desalination system and demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed simulation model (Goto et al. 2008).

The flow-breaking process to reduce the particle size of the liquid (fine droplets) followed by evaporation has been studied by Karami et al. (2010). An experiment studying the effect of flashing on sprays from splash-plate nozzles has been conducted. The examination focused on the influence of injection temperature, pressure, and fluid transport system on the flow area inside the nozzle, breakup mechanism, and water particle size. The finer water particles occur in a narrow temperature range. Further temperature increase does not significantly affect the particle size (Karami et al. 2010). Efforts to increase condensate productivity by applying flash evaporation were also carried out by El-Zahaby et al. (2009). A solar desalination system in which there is a flashing chamber has been tested (El-Zahaby et al. 2009).

A differently oriented experiment on flash evaporation was studied by Cai et al. (2017). In their study, a variety of experiments were carried out in a high temperature and high pressure (HTHP) steam-water test loop to study spray flash evaporation related to tube leakage problems. The temperature and relative humidity variations in the region of interest were measured in the experiment. The effects of injection rate, injection direction, initial water temperature, and injection pressure were investigated. The experimental results showed that the increase in the injection rate and initial water temperature enhanced the flash evaporation. The corresponding critical time increased with an increase in the spray angle. The injection pressure was found to result in better atomization and evaporation of the water on the premise that the injection pressure guaranteed complete flash evaporation (Cai et al. 2017).

A flashing experiment that used a convergent-divergent nozzle has been conducted by (Abuaf et al. (1981); Abuaf et al. 1981; Wu et al. 1981). The effects of various parameters were investigated and reported. The development of voids in nonequilibrium flashing flows was shown through the Oswatitsch integral to be dependent on the three major factors of the void inception point, which determines the initial and subsequent liquid superheats and must be accurately described; of the interfacial mass transfer rates, which depend on the local superheat and must be specified; and the local interfacial area density where the mass transfer occurs.

The study of flash evaporation by CFD simulation was also performed by many researchers (Angelo & Simões-Moreira 2007; Khamis Mansour & Fath 2013; Dang Le et al. 2018; Lyras et al. 2018). Khamis Mansour & Fath (2013) studied the optimal position of jumping plate (weir) location and the number inside the MSF chamber. The optimization exercise has been carried out in terms of maximum flashing vapor production and lower pressure drop using commercial computational fluid dynamics software ANSYS CFX 12.1. The theoretical model was verified by comparing the predicted results with those obtained from the reference case study (Khamis Mansour & Fath 2013). The flashing phenomenon was also observed by Angelo & Simões-Moreira (2007) in laboratory experiments in which a liquid jet flowed through a nozzle into a low-pressure environment, well below the saturation pressure of the liquid at the injection temperature (Angelo & Simões-Moreira 2007). The model considers that the fluid remains in the liquid phase down to the exit plane and off the nozzle, reaching high degrees of superheating or metastability, and the metastable liquid jet undergoes sudden phase change through the evaporation wave process. Dang Le et al. (2018) also conducted CFD simulation of flashing flow in a convergent-divergent nozzle (Dang Le et al. 2018). Similarly, a series of simulations performed by Lyras et al. (2018), working on simulations using open-source computational fluid dynamics to calculate phase changes within various nozzle geometries undergoing rapid pressure drops (Lyras et al. 2018).

All flashing experiments conducted by researchers are intended to convert the subcooled water flow into fine particles to facilitate the evaporation process. Changing water flow into water particles is done by utilizing the nozzle and feedwater pressure. The researchers used stationary nozzles in each of their experiments. In the theory developed by Sonawan et al. (2015), the improvement of the evaporation rate is very possible by using a rotating nozzle. The opportunity to increase the evaporation rate is by examining the rotation of what the evaporation rate reaches the maximum value. Theoretically, Sonawan et al. (2015) mentions that there is an optimum rotation speed which results in a maximum evaporation rate. To prove the theory, in this study a flashing experiment was conducted using a rotating nozzle. The flashing experiment was carried out based on the Buckingham pi experimental design. In addition to proving the importance of the rotating nozzle role compared to the stationary nozzle in the flashing process, the experimental results also obtained an empirical equation for the rate of condensation.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The flashing process experiment was carried out by following the dimensional analysis of Buckingham Pi. Condensation rate or pure water production rate () as the dependent variable in the flashing process was affected by the independent variables such as the nozzle rotation (n), the hole diameter of a nozzle (d), the feedwater pressure (Pw), the vacuum pressure (Pv) and the feedwater temperature (Tw). To simplify the preparation of dimensionless numbers through by reducing the basic dimensions, the temperature of feedwater was replaced by the physical properties of the fluid (water) in the form of density (ρ) and viscosity (μ). Thus, a dependent variable and six independent variables were involved in this experiment. Based on these variables, the formulation of dimensionless numbers was drawn up and a correlation between the dimensionless numbers was then built. With the formulation in Buckingham's dimensional analysis, the basic dimensions of each variable are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Basic dimension of involved variables in the flashing process by the rotating nozzle

n (rpm)d (m)Pw (N/m2)Pv (N/m2)ρ (kg/m3)μ (Pa.s) (kg/s)
−1 −1 −3 −1 
−1 −2 −2 −1 −1 
n (rpm)d (m)Pw (N/m2)Pv (N/m2)ρ (kg/m3)μ (Pa.s) (kg/s)
−1 −1 −3 −1 
−1 −2 −2 −1 −1 
There were seven variables that play a role in the flashing process with three basic dimensions that produced four dimensionless pi numbers. In the procedure for preparing dimensionless numbers, three recurrent variables were determined by the nozzle rotation, the nozzle hole diameter, and the fluid density. Thus, the formulation of dimensionless numbers is shown in Equations (1)–(4). 
formula
(1)
 
formula
(2)
 
formula
(3)
 
formula
(4)
Furthermore, from the four dimensionless numbers, the relationship between the numbers that can be built was . In particular, the best empirical relationships that can be built had the form as in Equation (5). 
formula
(5)
Furthermore, the final form of the equation is shown in Equation (6). 
formula
(6)

From the form of the proposed relationship in Equation (6), the resulted empirical equation can be a linear, square, or power equation. The selected equation was determined based on the largest correlation coefficient (R2), which approaches 1 among the three forms of the equation.

Experiment setup

The flashing experiments based on the formulation of dimensionless numbers were carried out by varying the nozzle rotation and the vacuum pressure to yield the condensation rate. The remaining four variables of the feedwater pressure, the nozzle hole diameter, the density, and the viscosity were kept constant as follows: Pw = 7.6 bar-g, Tw = 83 °C (ρ = 969.89 kg/m3; μ = 0.00034119 N.s/m2) and d = 0.3 mm.

From Figure 1, the feedwater was heated first to reach a temperature of 83 °C along with a vacuum in the flashing chamber to set pressure. After the feedwater reached the set temperature, feedwater valve-5 was opened to flow the heated feedwater towards the nozzle. The nozzle was a mist nozzle that produced vapor at the appropriate feedwater pressure. The pressure of feedwater was produced by a diaphragm pump. Feedwater pressure, feedwater temperature, and vacuum pressure were kept constant at the set value by adjusting feedwater valve-5 and heating power on the water heater. Bourdon tube type measuring instruments were used to monitor the three variables. Each batch of the experiment was carried out for 30 minutes and the produced condensate water was measured by using a measuring glass after removing vacuum pressure inside the flashing chamber.

Figure 1

The flashing experiment setup.

Figure 1

The flashing experiment setup.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

There was a form of the empirical equation which was constructed from four dimensionless numbers with the relationship shown in Equation (6). From that relationship, the proposed empirical equation can be in the form of linear equations, squares, or power equations which each had a correlation coefficient. The form of the equation that had the largest correlation coefficient was the chosen equation. To determine the correlation coefficient of the proposed equations, as the first step the four dimensionless numbers were calculated in Tables 24 based on the experimental data. Furthermore, correlation coefficients were obtained from calculations using spreadsheets.

Table 2

Dimensionless numbers for pw = 7.6 bar-g and pv = 0.4 bar-a at several nozzle rotations

Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 150.0 191.4 117.6 65.8 45.5 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 4.04 × 10−5 5.16 × 10−5 3.17 × 10−5 1.77 × 10−5 1,23 × 10−5 
 9.26 × 106 4.38 × 103 1.08 × 103 4.14 × 102 2.10 × 102 
 3.13 × 1017 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 1.65 × 1016 2.26 × 109 3.67 × 108 1.72 × 108 9.19 × 107 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 
Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 150.0 191.4 117.6 65.8 45.5 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 4.04 × 10−5 5.16 × 10−5 3.17 × 10−5 1.77 × 10−5 1,23 × 10−5 
 9.26 × 106 4.38 × 103 1.08 × 103 4.14 × 102 2.10 × 102 
 3.13 × 1017 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 1.65 × 1016 2.26 × 109 3.67 × 108 1.72 × 108 9.19 × 107 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 
Table 3

Dimensionless numbers for pw = 7.6 bar-g and pv = 0.5 bar-a at several nozzle rotations

Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 56.9 121.4 97.2 73.2 74.5 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 1.53 × 10−5 3.27 × 10−5 2.62 × 10−5 1.97 × 10−5 2.01 × 10−5 
 3.51 × 104 2.78 × 103 8.96 × 102 4.61 × 102 3.43 × 102 
 3.13 × 1013 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 2.06 × 1012 2.83 × 109 4.59 × 108 2.15 × 108 1.15 × 108 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 
Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 56.9 121.4 97.2 73.2 74.5 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 1.53 × 10−5 3.27 × 10−5 2.62 × 10−5 1.97 × 10−5 2.01 × 10−5 
 3.51 × 104 2.78 × 103 8.96 × 102 4.61 × 102 3.43 × 102 
 3.13 × 1013 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 2.06 × 1012 2.83 × 109 4.59 × 108 2.15 × 108 1.15 × 108 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 
Table 4

Dimensionless numbers for pw = 7.6 bar-g and pv = 0.6 bar-a at several nozzle rotations

Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 41.7 70.4 38.4 37.5 21.4 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 1.12 × 10−5 1.90 × 10−5 1.03 × 10−5 1.01 × 10−5 5.77 × 10−6 
 2.57 × 104 1.61 × 103 3.54 × 102 2.36 × 102 9.86 × 101 
 3.13 × 1013 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 2.47 × 1012 3.39 × 109 5.51 × 108 2.58 × 108 1.38 × 108 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 
Feedwater temperature, T = 83 °C
Density, ρ = 969.89 kg/m3
Viscosity, μ = 3.41.10−4 Pa.s
Nozzle hole diameter, d = 0.3 mm = 0.0003 m
Nozzle rotation, n (rpm) 0,01 27 67 98 134 
Condensation rate (ml/h) 41.7 70.4 38.4 37.5 21.4 
Condensation rate (kg/s) 1.12 × 10−5 1.90 × 10−5 1.03 × 10−5 1.01 × 10−5 5.77 × 10−6 
 2.57 × 104 1.61 × 103 3.54 × 102 2.36 × 102 9.86 × 101 
 3.13 × 1013 4.30 × 1010 6.98 × 109 3.26 × 109 1.75 × 109 
 2.47 × 1012 3.39 × 109 5.51 × 108 2.58 × 108 1.38 × 108 
 235 8.69 3.50 2.39 1.75 

The rate of freshwater production or condensation rate measured in each experimental batch was the condensate water debit obtained during steady periods. The variables that had a constant value in the calculation were the feedwater temperature and the nozzle diameter. With a constant feedwater temperature of 83 °C, the density and viscosity of feedwater can be known, while the nozzle diameter was chosen from one type of the same nozzle which had a hole diameter of 0.3 mm. Calculation of four dimensionless numbers was carried out for five different nozzle rotation and three different vacuum pressures.

After obtaining all dimensionless numbers, the graph connecting the four numbers as depicted in Figures 24 for three different types of equations. Each curve was represented on a logarithmic scale and each correlation coefficient was displayed to compare with each other.

Figure 2

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of a linear equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Figure 2

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of a linear equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Figure 3

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of the quadratic equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Figure 3

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of the quadratic equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Figure 4

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of power equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Figure 4

The relationship between dimensionless numbers π1 and (π2π3)/ π4 in the form of power equation for Pw = 7.6 bar-g.

Based on the relationship shown in Figures 24, it was seen that the best correlation between dimensionless numbers was shown by the form of quadratic equations with a correlation coefficient of 1. With linear regression methods, the empirical equation that connects the two dimensionless numbers had the form of a quadratic equation as stated in Equation (7). 
formula
(7)

The use of the rotating nozzle had a positive impact on the condensation rate during the flashing process, as shown in Figure 5. The condensation rate tended to increase when the nozzle was rotated in the case compared to the stationary nozzle. But the higher nozzle rotation did not necessarily increase the condensation rate but decreased it to a certain limit. From this experiment, the optimum condensation rate was obtained a certain nozzle rotation. From all combinations of feedwater pressure, vacuum pressure, and nozzle rotation, the optimum condensation rate was obtained, which is 191.4 ml/h. This value was obtained by combining feedwater pressure of 7.6 bar-g, vacuum pressure of 0.4 bar-a, and nozzle rotation of 27 rpm. This value was higher than the flashing process carried out with a stationary nozzle (0 rpm rotation) or a higher rotation than 27 rpm.

Figure 5

Changing condensation rate to nozzle rotation at different vacuum pressures.

Figure 5

Changing condensation rate to nozzle rotation at different vacuum pressures.

The condensation rate was affected by vacuum pressure, where the higher vacuum pressure was able to produce more condensate volume, as well. Theoretically, by observing the P-h curve of the thermodynamic properties of water (Figure 6), the higher vacuum pressure shifts the curve downward and this enlarges the percentage of the vapor fraction that occurs in the vacuum chamber. The tendency to increasing the condensate volume in low-pressure environments was triggered by the evaporation of water particles, as well. The lower pressure decreases the boiling point of water so that the water evaporates more easily.

Figure 6

Higher vapor fraction by increasing vacuum pressure in the P-h diagram.

Figure 6

Higher vapor fraction by increasing vacuum pressure in the P-h diagram.

The type of nozzle used in this experiment mentioned as a mist-nozzle with a fairly small hole diameter. Mist forming was supported by a feedwater pressure of 7.6 bar-a, which greatly encouraged perfect vaporization. Very fine water particles form from the results of mist and this can lead to more easy evaporation in the flashing chamber.

CONCLUSION

The generated empirical equations from the flashing process experiments are in the form of quadratic equations. The empirical equation applies to feedwater pressure of 7.6 bar-g, the vacuum pressure of 0.4–0.6 bar-a and nozzle rotational speed of 0–134 rpm. The optimum condensation rate in the flashing experiment was successfully obtained, especially at a nozzle rotation around 27 rpm in all vacuum pressures tested. This success is inseparable from the use of mist-nozzles that convert the feedwater flow into the mist.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author would like to thank the Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Pasundan Bandung, for providing this research funding through the 2019 Grant of the Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Pasundan, Bandung.

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