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Heat Exchangers: Designing for Super-critical Fluid Service

By James R. Lines |

Working with supercritical fluids poses challenges when designing heat exchangers. Some practical tips and precautions are presented here Industrial applications involving fluids at high pressure — pressure above the critical pressure of a particular fluid — are increasing in number. This is due to the beneficial properties of supercritical fluids (SCFs) or simply due to very high pressures required for certain applications. Examples include supercritical CO2 acting as a solvent in an extraction process, supercritical water for waste treatment via an oxidation process (Figure 1), supercritical nitrogen for an enhanced-oil-recovery process or supercritical methane in compressed natural-gas service. Table 1 provides a list of the critical points for a number of different fluids [1]. The phase diagram for CO2, the most commonly used SCF, is shown in Figure 2. Figure 1. This heat exchanger is used for supercritical water oxidation service. Both hot and cold fluids operate above critical pressure Graham[/caption] Figure 2. The phase diagram for carbon dioxide illustrates the location of the critical point[/caption] Proper design of heat transfer equipment requires greater care and a deeper understanding of supercritical fluid properties,…
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