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Method and apparatus for high-efficiency direct contact condensation

United States Patent

July 20, 1999
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
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A direct contact condenser having a downward vapor flow chamber and an upward vapor flow chamber, wherein each of the vapor flow chambers includes a plurality of cooling liquid supplying pipes and a vapor-liquid contact medium disposed thereunder to facilitate contact and direct heat exchange between the vapor and cooling liquid. The contact medium includes a plurality of sheets arranged to form vertical interleaved channels or passageways for the vapor and cooling liquid streams. The upward vapor flow chamber also includes a second set of cooling liquid supplying pipes disposed beneath the vapor-liquid contact medium which operate intermittently in response to a pressure differential within the upward vapor flow chamber. The condenser further includes separate wells for collecting condensate and cooling liquid from each of the vapor flow chambers. In alternate embodiments, the condenser includes a cross-current flow chamber and an upward flow chamber, a plurality of upward flow chambers, or a single upward flow chamber. The method of use of the direct contact condenser of this invention includes passing a vapor stream sequentially through the downward and upward vapor flow chambers, where the vapor is condensed as a result of heat exchange with the cooling liquid in the contact medium. The concentration of noncondensable gases in the resulting condensate-liquid mixtures can be minimized by controlling the partial pressure of the vapor, which depends in part upon the geometry of the vapor-liquid contact medium. In another aspect of this invention, the physical and chemical performance of a direct contact condenser can be predicted based on the vapor and coolant compositions, the condensation conditions. and the geometric properties of the contact medium.
Bharathan; Desikan (Lakewood, CO), Parent; Yves (Golden, CO), Hassani; A. Vahab (Golden, CO)
Midwest Research Institute (
08/ 824,236
March 25, 1997
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DEAC3683CH10093 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Division of Midwest Research Institute.