Air-cooled condensers for thermoelectric power generation
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Thermoelectric power generation accounts for a significant portion of the fresh water demand, with the majority of the water being used for steam condensation. Currently, many thermoelectric power plants use wet-cooled condenser technology, which tends to lose water to evaporation or thermally pollute the water such that it is unfit to return to its source. An alternate method for the steam condensation process is to use dry-cooled technologies where air is the cooling fluid. These air-cooled systems are beneficial where water is unavailable or uneconomical. However, dry-cooled systems do not perform as well and are not as economical as wet-cooled systems. The purpose of this research is to model and design an optimized A-frame air-cooled condenser with air-side heat transfer performance and overall efficiency at the levels achieved by wet-cooled plants. A segmented condenser model was developed in EES to predict stand-alone condenser performance as well as the efficiency of a representative 500 MW thermoelectric plant. Two-phase pressure drop, condensation, and fin performance correlations were implemented into the code to predict condenser performance using conservation of energy and momentum equations. Investigations include a parametric study on plain, wavy, and louvered fins to determine an optimal fin choice prior to additional enhancements. Experimental data from novel, oscillating reed technology designed to improve heat transfer within the air channels are implemented into the model to further optimize the condenser design for maximum plant efficiency.