August 30, 2007

Roof Design - For Energy Saving

From an energy efficiency perspective, roof technology has not progressed substantially in hundreds of years, but that is changing with the use of active thermal mass components, reflective pigments and coatings, subventing, radiant barriers and other novel techniques being tested by a team led by Bill Miller and Jan Kosny of ORNL's Building Envelopes group. Their prototype roof and attic system works by reducing attic temperatures by about 22 degrees Fahrenheit during a typical summer afternoon and decreasing the amount of heat that gets transferred through the attic floor to the living space.

At the heart of new roof system is a proprietary inorganic phase change material sandwiched between two reflective surfaces made of aluminum foil. This material is installed as a dynamic thermal barrier between the roof and attic area, creating separate air channels between roof rafters. The configuration is compatible with traditional wood and steel framing technologies. Moreover, the new phase change material overcomes problems that have plagued phase change materials for the past 40 years.

"In the 1970s and 1980s the housing industry made several moderately successful attempts to use phase change materials," Kosny said. "While these materials enhanced building energy performance, they were in many cases chemically unstable, were subject to corrosion or other durability problems and suffered from loss of phase change capability."

Another shortcoming of some previous phase change materials was their susceptibility to fire. Fire is not a problem with the ORNL material, according to Kosny, who noted that ORNL researchers are working with leading manufacturers of phase change material on the development of non-flammable organic material.

In tests at ORNL, phase change materials perform like conventional materials by absorbing heat as the temperature increases. However, as the material melts it continues to absorb large amounts of heat without a significant increase in temperature. Then, as night falls and the ambient temperature around the liquid phase change material decreases, it solidifies again and releases the stored heat to the night sky, Miller said.

With an outside temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit, tests at ORNL's Buildings Technology Center show temperatures of conventional attics at 127 degrees Fahrenheit vs. attic temperatures of 105 degrees with the Dynamic Attic Heat Exhaust System. Kosny and Miller filed a patent last year for this technology.

"The next generation roof will consist of infrared reflective materials that are dark in color yet reflect light as if they were white," Miller said. "In addition, radiant barriers and phase change materials will be integrated into a dynamic attic system that reduces utility bills for homeowners. The conservation strategies contribute on a much grander scale by lowering peak demand on utilities, reducing carbon emissions and, ultimately, they could lead to cleaner air."

If just half of the homeowners in the U.S. made sure they had R30 attic floor insulation and used this roof and attic system, the nation could reduce its Btu (British Thermal Unit) demand by about 100 trillion Btu.

This research is funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Building Technologies program. UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.

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August 27, 2007

God & Science

This story was sent to me by a friend & thought I should share it with you all.

An atheist professor of philosophy speaks to his class on the problem science has with God, The Almighty. He asks one of his new students to stand and.....
Prof: So you believe in God?
Student: Absolutely, sir.
Prof: Is God good?
Student: Sure.
Prof: Is God all-powerful?
Student: Yes.
Prof: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God didn't. How is this God good then? Hmm?
(Student is silent.)

Prof: You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?
Student: Yes.
Prof: Is Satan good?
Student: No.
Prof: Where does Satan come from?
Student: From...God...
Prof: That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Student: Yes.
Prof: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything. Correct?
Student: Yes.
Prof: So who created evil?
( Student does not answer.)
Prof: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don't they?
Student: Yes, sir.
Prof: So, who created them?
( Student has no answer.)
Prof: Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son...Have you ever seen God?
Student: No, sir.
Prof: Tell us if you have ever heard your God?
Student: No, sir.
Prof: Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter?
Student: No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.
Prof: Yet you still believe in Him?
Student: Yes.
Prof: According to empirical, t estable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.
Prof: Yes. Faith. And that is the problem science has.
Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?
Prof: Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as cold?
Prof: Yes.
Student : No sir. There isn't.
(The lecture theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events.)
Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don't have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is
no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir,
just the absence of it.
(There is pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)
Student : What about darkn ess, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Prof: Yes. What is night if there isn't darkness?
Student : You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light....But jif you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? In reality, darkness isn't. If it were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?
Prof: So what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.
Prof: Flawed? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It
uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it.
Now tell me, Professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Prof: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The Professor shakes his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument is going.)
Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching
your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher? (The class is in uproar.)
Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor's brain?
(The class breaks out into laughter.)
Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professo r's brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain,sir.
With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?
(The room is silent. The professor stares at the student, his face unfathomable.)
Prof: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir... The link between man & god is FAITH. That is all that keeps things moving & alive.

I believe you have enjoyed the conversation...and if'll probably want your friends/colleagues to enjoy the same...won't you?...forward them to increase their knowledge... this is a true st ory, and the student was none other than.........
APJ Abdul Kalam ,
The President of India

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August 25, 2007

Booster Pumps - Improve your vacuum system performance

Mechanical vacuum boosters are dry pumps that meet most of the ideal vacuum pump requirements. They work on positive displacement principle and are used to boost the performance of water ring / oil ring / rotating vane / piston pumps and steam or water ejectors. They are used in combination with any one of the mentioned pumps, to overcome their limitations. Vacuum boosters pumps offer very desirable characteristics, which make them the most cost effective and power efficient option.

Major Advantages

1. Can be integrated with any installed vacuum systems such as steam ejectors, water ring pumps, oil sealed pumps, and water ejectors etc.

2. The vacuum booster is a dry pump, as it does not use any pumping fluid. It pumps vapor or gases with equal ease. Small amounts of condensed fluid can also be pumped.

3. Vacuum boosters are power efficient. Very often a combination of vacuum booster and suitable backup pump result in reduced power consumption per unit of pumping speed. They provide high pumping speeds even at low pressures.

4. Boosters increase the working vacuum of the process, in most cases very essential for process performance and efficiency. Vacuum booster can be used over a wide working pressure range, from 100 Torr down to 0.001 Torr (mm of mercury), with suitable arrangement of backup pumps.

5. It has very low pump friction losses, hence requires relatively low power for high volumetric speeds. Typically, their speeds, at low vacuums are 20-30times higher than corresponding vane pumps/ring pumps of equivalent power.

6. Use of electronic control devices such as variable frequency control drive allows modifying vacuum boosters operating characteristics to conform to the operational requirements of the prime vacuum pumps. Hence they can be easily integrated into all existing pumping set up to boost their performance

7. Vacuum boosters don’t have any valves, rings, stuffing box etc, therefore, do not demand regular maintenance.

8. Due to vapor compression action by the booster, the pressure at the discharge of booster (or inlet of backup pump) is maintained high, resulting in advantages such as low back streaming of prime pump fluid, effective condensation even at higher condenser temperatures and improvement of the backup pump efficiency.

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August 24, 2007

Acetic Acid Heat Exchanger Failure

We have a shell & tube heat exchanger as feed preheater in our glycol ether acetate plant where mixed feed is preheated to ~130-140°C using steam on shell side. It has failed recently & we observed few strange things.


In the process of manufacturing of Glycol ether acetate (Or Cellosolve acetate) we conventionally use Cellosolve & Acetic acid and esterification reaction occurs with the water formation in CSTR reactors. Toluene is used as entrainer for water removal.

After reaction step, the product mix is sent to mix fraction column separation where All unreacted components and toluene are removed as overhead & recycled back to the reactor.

Feed is mixed with this recycle stream & sent to a preheater upstream of the reactor. The mixture is preheated to ~130-140°C using steam.


On 17 Aug when we stopped the plant for some modification, we found the organic compounds in the condensate line for the reactors. So initially we thought about some leakages in the internal coils of the reactor but while opening up the flanges in the system we found that organics are not coming from the reactor side rather coming from the header side. So we isolated entire system & traced it back to this exchanger.

After confirmation from the drain point at max elevation, we decided to open it in the morning of 18 Aug and found this scene at site.

This is a 6 pass exchanger with organics on tube side & heating steam on shell side.

The tube failure was found on the inlet side of process fluid which is at left bottom in actual orientation also, as shown in the pic above.

It is clear from the pics that other tubes dont have even a single spot of corrsoion or leakge as shown above & below.

So what is the situation of failure at the time of opening of exchanger & why it is so?

Just another enlarged view of failed tubes at tubesheet end.........

We have inspected the tubes using boroscopy from inside & found that the actual leakage is inside the tubes at the end side of first pass (outlet side) not on the side shown (Inlet of first pass).

The picture above is showing a hole at the top left and severe pitting inside the tubes.

Our mechanical analysis is under progress & I will update this one as soon as I get those reports.

Till then I invite your comments.

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August 21, 2007

Fouling Factors for Cooling Water Service

Just found a list of compiled factors, so I wish to share it with all of you at one place. I will post others also on this as Update. Generally we find U values but not fouling factors, so it may be useful for many.

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August 16, 2007

Ethanol - Facts & Common Sense


Brazil pioneered the use of Ethanol as a blend to gasoline for fuel use in commercial & public transport sector. Since then the science community is trying to identify alternative fuel which is easier to use, more efficient, cost effective & bla..bla..bla.......

I have read 3 major ones -
  • Ethanol,

  • Butanol (most Recent) &

  • Dimethyl Ether (DME)

You will find many pros & cons of each of them...However my first focus is are they really going to contribute energy saving, cost saving, renewability (reducing environment emmission in totality) OR NOT...............

Energy Saving

The discussion on Energy saving in the production of these biofuels is not relevant to me. Becasue if we talk about this we are going to violate fundamnetal law of energy conservation. Total energy of the universe is conserved it can neither be created or destroyed only it can change from one form to another. So why to talk about it. It is already mentioned & proved that the projections from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service Report number 814 titled "Estimating The Net Energy Balance Of Corn Ethanol: An Update" published in July of 2002 are completely misleading and there is no benefit in diverting food material for fuel production.

Its a gimmick played by US & EU to divert the attention of developing countries so that artificial food shortage can be created there & then they can improve their agriculture business by exporting food to them.

Anyway, this is not my area (May be I can discuss in comments section if somebody is interested), so we should consider the total energy in production & consumption both which are going to remain same combinedly for any fuel cycle. So if we do the comparison considering all factors including energy required for production of grains, It should not result in either deficit or surplus of the energy balance. However, no production process can have >100% efficiency. This is against thermodynamics.

It can be proven thermodynamically also by any expert. Following references are useful here

If Ethanol production is so much energy efficient (Lowest prjection of 35%) than that means every 100 Units of input energy can generate 135 Units & so on. Considering this growth, world can generate excess energy in just under 20 years based on current global consumption of ~3000 billion gallons / year of Eqv Oil and @1% growth rate in the consumption.

Ethanol production rate is kept same at same Biomass (in this maths calculation, which should have been done by so called experts with so much funding available from govt, agencies & whosoever is interested in improving his related business) be it corn, sugar cane or anything with the latest figures of efficient farming, production & conversion efficiencies which is considered only at 20 Billion gallons/year in the begining which is only 1/10 or 10% of current fossil fuel consumption.


That means thereafter, we wont have any problem of energy shortage in the world.

Is it really so????????????????

The answer may be derived from the results of Brazil and is clearly NO.

I will post other issues related to this later as I see that

1. It is not a renewable & sustainable fuel.

2. It is going to pollute the environment in the same way as we do with fossil fuels.

3. Net energy content may be inefficient than fossil fuels.

4. Diverting attention of governments for policies related to social welfare due to subsidies.

5. No large scale sustainable future for Ethanol or any other food crops derived fuels.

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August 13, 2007

Catalyst to turn CO2 into fuel

A new catalyst that can split carbon dioxide gas could allow us to use carbon from the atmosphere as a fuel source in a similar way to plants.

"Breaking open the very stable bonds in CO2 is one of the biggest challenges in synthetic chemistry," says Frederic Goettmann, a chemist at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany. "But plants have been doing it for millions of years."

Plants use the energy of sunlight to cleave the relatively stable chemical bonds between the carbon and oxygen atoms in a carbon dioxide molecule. In photosynthesis, the CO2 molecule is initially bonded to nitrogen atoms, making reactive compounds called carbamates. These less stable compounds can then be broken down, allowing the carbon to be used in the synthesis of other plant products, such as sugars and proteins.

In an attempt to emulate this natural process, Goettmann and colleagues Arne Thomas and Markus Antonietti developed their own nitrogen-based catalyst that can produce carbamates. The graphite-like compound is made from flat layers of carbon and nitrogen atoms arranged in hexagons.

The team heated a mixture of CO2 and benzene with the catalyst to a temperature of 150 ÂșC, at about three times atmospheric pressure. In a first step, the catalyst enabled the CO2 to form a reactive carbamate, like that made in plants.

Oxygen grab

The catalyst's next useful step was to enable the benzene molecules to grab the oxygen atom from the CO2 in the carbamate, producing phenol and a reactive carbon monoxide (CO) species.
"Carbon monoxide can be used to build new carbon-carbon bonds," explains Goettmann. "We have taken the first step towards using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a source for chemical synthesis."

Future refinements could allow chemists to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels as sources for making chemicals. Liquid fuel could also be made from CO split from CO2, says Goettmann. "It was common in Second World War Germany and in South Africa in the 1980s to make fuel from CO derived from coal," he adds.

The researchers are now trying to bring their method even closer to photosynthesis. "The benzene reaction currently supplies the energy that splits the CO2," Goettmann says, "but in plants it is light." The new catalyst absorbs ultraviolet radiation, so the team is experimenting to see if light can provide the energy instead.Recycled carbon

Joe Wood, a chemical engineer at Birmingham University in the UK, is also researching ways of fixing CO2. "There's growing interest in using it as a recycled input into the chemical industry," he says.

The Max Planck technique has only been demonstrated on a small scale and it has a low yield of 20%, he points out. "But it looks quite promising," he adds. "The catalyst can be made cheaply and it works at a relatively low temperature."

The products of the technique are well suited to making drugs or herbicides, says Wood, "so hopefully they can improve the efficiency and scale it up."

Adopted from Newsvine.

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August 08, 2007

A simple way to convert waste methane

About 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas are burned off or simply vented at remote oil rigs and refineries that are not connected by pipelines. The practice wastes a precious fuel and pumps methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Technologies for compressing or liquefying natural gas in order to transport it are expensive and only make sense at large oil fields. So, researchers have been looking for viable technologies to convert the natural gas found at small, isolated oil fields into compounds that are easier to transport and distribute.

Specifically, the researchers found a simple way to convert methane into methyl chloride, which can easily be converted into petrochemicals such as ethylene or propylene, used to make plastics. Ethylene and propylene, says Johannes Lercher, a chemistry professor at the Munich University of Technology, are far easier to transport than methane is.
The current process for making methyl chloride takes a lot of energy and involves multiple steps, including first converting methane into a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In an online paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Munich and Dow researchers demonstrate a straightforward technique that uses much less energy. They show that mixing methane, hydrogen chloride, and oxygen in the presence of a lanthanum catalyst yields methyl chloride. "Capital and complexity frequently go hand in hand," says Mark Jones, a plastics and hydrocarbons researcher at Dow. "The general trend is that reducing processing steps is good."
The technique could have one drawback, though: it uses chlorine, a toxic gas. The researchers' plan includes recycling the hydrogen chloride and repeatedly using it for the reaction. "In the vision we're playing with, the chlorine would not ever get on a boat," says Eric Strangland, a chemistry and catalysis researcher at Dow and a coauthor of the paper.
However, companies that are not used to handling chlorine might initially be intimidated by the technique, says Bert Weckhuysen, a chemistry professor at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. "Dow has a long experience with chloride chemistry, so working with chloride streams is not a big deal" Weckhuysen says. "Others companies could, at least in the beginning, be scared off due to the requirement of being able to work with chloride compounds. It requires infrastructure."

The process will also face competition. New gas-to-liquids technology, which converts natural gas into synthetic liquid fuels, is starting to become popular as an alternative to liquefied natural gas, and it's garnering the attention of oil giants like Exxon and Shell. It has not yet been widely used, though, because it's expensive to implement: it requires a lot of energy and large facilities. Weckhuysen says that if Dow could develop an affordable commercial process based on it new reaction, it could compete with gas-to-liquids technology.
Another competitor, Gas Reaction Technologies, based in Santa Barbara, CA, is commercializing a technology to directly convert natural gas into liquid fuels and chemicals. The process is very similar to the new Dow process, except it uses bromine instead of chlorine. Gas Reaction Technologies, which is working with several partners, including Cargill, expects to have facilities going within three to five years, says Eric McFarland, the company's CEO.

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August 01, 2007

Improve Your Boiler Efficiency

How much is the typical coal fired boiler efficiency?
Probably the best operating boiler can achieve ~80% or +/-2%.
Historically, boiler efficiency has been limited due to the minimum temperature allowed for the auxiliary equipment. Heat lost up the stack was in exchange for keeping the flue gas temperature above the water vapor dew point to protect the air heater or economizer from acid corrosion. If water vapor was allowed to condense out, rapid deterioration, due to acid corrosion, of the outlet duct and stack would also occur.

The contribution of dry flue gas is ~9-12% & ~5-8% due to presence of humidity & water in combustion products. The reason is that the flue gas temperature (generally 170 - 200°C) is limited by dew point to avoid condensation of downstream exchangers.
With the development of CHX™ condensing heat exchangers, boiler efficiency can now approach 90%. Approximately 1% gain in boiler efficiency can be expected for every 20° C reduction in flue gas stack temperature. Therefore if we can lower it to ~90°C or so, we can practically recover more heat with total thermal efficiency increase from 80% to ~88% or so.

In the CHX™ condensing heat exchanger, all gas wetted surfaces are covered with DuPont Teflon~. The Teflon covered heat exchanger surfaces are impervious to all acids normally resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels. This allows the flue gas to be cooled to below the water vapor dew point with no subsequent corrosion of the heat exchanger surfaces. If this heat is not recovered it will account for a boiler's second largest thermodynamic loss.
CHX™ condensing heat exchangers use a single gas pass to remove both sensible and latent heat from the flue gas. The flue gas enters the Teflon covered heat exchanger through a carbon steel inlet plenum at the top and flows downward across the horizontal banks of heat exchanger tubes and exits the heat exchanger through an FRP outlet plenum on the bottom of the heat exchanger. The cold water flows through the heat exchanger tubing. For optimum heat recovery, the heat sink fluid flows countercurrent to the flue gas.
As the flue gas temperature reaches the water vapor dew point at the tube surfaces, condensation occurs. Due to the hydrophobic nature of Teflon, droplets of condensate form and fall as a constant rain over the tube array. This provides two important advantages. It enhances the latent heat transfer and at the same time keeps the tube surface clean.
The modules are manufactured in a number of different sizes. The variety of module sizes and the modular construction allow the CHX condensing heat exchanger design to be optimized for each application.
The CHX™ tubing, in water cooled applications, is 1.125 in. O.D. alloy C70600 covered with a 0.015 in. thick extruded layer of FEP Teflon. The inside surfaces of the heat exchanger shell are covered with a 0.060 in. thick sheet of PTFE Teflon. During fabrication, the tubes are pushed through extruded tube seals in the Teflon covered tube sheet to form a resilient Teflon to Teflon seal. This ensures that all heat exchanger surfaces exposed to the flue gas are protected against acid corrosion. Tube connections are made outside of the heat exchanger shell.
To protect the Teflon, maximum flue gas inlet temperature is limited to 260° C. The maximum water inlet pressure and the maximum water outlet temperature are 150 psig and 120° F respectively. CHX™ heat exchangers are installed as passive systems in order to assure that these limitations will always be met.
The CHX heat exchanger can also be used to heat air. The materials of construction and the maximum operating parameters vary somewhat from above.
The most common application for a CHX™ condensing heat exchangers is the recovery of waste heat to preheat boiler make-up water. Preheating make-up water can increase boiler efficiency 3-5% or more. The heat recovered by a CHX™ condensing heat exchanger can offset much of the extraction steam required by a low pressure feed water heater or deaerator. This offset will reduce fuel consumption while maintaining a fixed net steam output, or when required, it can increase the net steam output by maintaining the same fixed fuel consumption.
Heating make-up water is not the only heat recovery application for a CHX™ condensing heat exchanger. CHX™ units can have a number of other uses in the plant environment. Applications range from building heat to heating process streams in food processing chemical plants, and various pulp and paper applications.
In one actual installation, a midsized industrial plant has been saving an average of $1,000 per day for the past 10 years in energy costs by heating process water with boiler flue gas. The passively installed system utilizes 160,000 tph of 333° F glue gas to heat 550 gpm of process water from 90° F to 136 ° F. The flue gas is cooled to 125 °F. The additional heat recovery has in effect increased the capacity of the plant without requiring the purchase of another boiler. This CHX™ heat recovery system paid for itself in less than 25 months.
CHX™ units can also heat water or process streams indirectly. When a process steam is incompatible with the CHX™ unit design, water or other liquid heat sinks can be circulated in a closed loop through a CHX™ condensing heat exchanger. A closed loop system can be used to heat process streams that are abrasive, corrosive or have a pressure higher than the CHX™ unit design pressure. A closed loop system can also be used for flue gas reheat or in some cases to cool flue gas to a lower temperature where required.
For the past 16 years CHX™ condensing heat exchangers have successfully demonstrated their ability to operate below the acid and water vapor dew point to recover low level heat from fossil fueled boilers, HRSG'S and process dryers. While a majority of CHX™ heat exchanger installations have been retrofit applications, there have been several cases where they were included in the heat balance design for new construction or plant expansion.
Based on our experience, the most efficient use for CHX™ condensing exchangers in the future will be for new construction or plant expansion when the customer and their A&E company engineers recognize in the design phase that there will be a continuous requirement to heat a large volume of cold water for a specific use. When the condensing heat exchanger is an integral part of the total project heat balance design it provides the opportunity to maximize the use of the heat recovered to the benefit of the total system heat balance. Another advantage is that the installation cost is typically lower than the cost to interface with existing equipment in a retrofit application.

If you find it useful or would like to add similar developments, kindly let me know.

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