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ELSEVIER Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8


Modelling and simulation of steam jet ejectors

Narmine H. Aly a*, Aly Karameldin ~, M.M. Shamloul b
aHeat Transfer and Desalination Laboratory, Reactors Department, Atomic Energy Authority, Cairo, Egypt Tel. & Fax +20 (2) 462-0778; email: narmine_hussein@hotmail.com bMechanical Engineering Department, Zagazig University, Egypt Received 27 March 1999; accepted 9 May 1999


The present study describes a computer simulation model for steam jet ejectors. The model was developed by application of the equations of continuity, momentum and energy to individual operation of nozzle, mixing chamber and diffuser. Two different approaches used to develop two models are presented. The effect of motive steam pressure, evaporator temperature, and pressure rise across the ejector on the steam to vapour flow ratio were investigated, and the results presented. To test the adequacy of the models, these results were compared with empirical graphs of Power [1] and are found to be in good agreement. Keywords: Desalination; Steam ejector; Thermo-vapour compression desalination

1. I n t r o d u c t i o n

The ejector is a fluid pumping device in which a high-pressure motive fluid performs a pumping function. Although ejectors are relatively inefficient, they are used in many industries and power plants for the creation of vacuum. They are also used in vapour compression desalination systems as a heat pump. Due to their simplicity of design and the absence o f moving parts, ejectors are very reliable, require practically no maintenance, and have a relatively low installation *Corresponding author.

cost. As the ejector is powered by heat, which is low-grade energy, it is obviously less expensive to run than electrical or mechanical-related power. The drawback of a steam jet ejector is its large dimensions as well as its low efficiency. The steam required for the jet ejector is commonly drawn from boilers. Power plants often have steam available for several operations. This is a comparatively cheap and readily available source of energy used in steam jet ejectors. Several theoretical models have been suggested and experimental work carried out to

0011-9164/99/$- See front matter 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved
PII: SO() l 1 - 9 1 6 4 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 5 3 - 3

N.H. Aly et al./Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8

study the performance of jet ejectors [2-6]. Most of these were applied to cooling and refrigeration systems which were operated at low temperature ranges. Keenan et al. [2] presented a model to analyze air ejectors. They considered a singledimensional model based on ideal gas dynamics in conjunction with the principles of the conservation of mass, momentum, and energy. They assumed a constant area mixing chamber and extended the theory to include one [3]. Gupta et al. [4] have constructed a theoretical model for a steam-vapour system in a singlestage ejector to estimate the motive steam requirements over an extended range of ejector load. Rao et al. [5] presented a comparative study made on motive steam requirements at different suction pressures for different ejector systems including a steam-water vapour system. Two models were developed where the first model was based on the conservation of fluid momentum while the second model was based on kinetic energy conservation in the mixing section. Emes et al. [6] modified Keenan's and his coworkers' model to include irreversibilities associated with the nozzle, mixing chamber, and diffuser. They also provided results of experimental work on a steam jet refrigerator. As mentioned earlier, in this work two models are presented. The first one was developed by applying steady-state equations of energy, momentum, and continuity at the nozzle, diffuser, and mixing section to determine the pressure and velocity at each section from which the system performance is obtained. The second model considers the flow inside the ejector as a perfect gas, and following Emes' and his coworkers' model o f a steam-vapour ejector, to calculate the pressure and Mach number of the flow in the ejector to study the characteristics of the system. The results of the two models are presented and compared with the empirical correlation of power [ 1]. The effect of different parameters (such as steam pressure, evaporator temperature,

compression ratio) of steam to the vapour/mass flow ratio are investigated.

2. Steam ejector In general, the ejector is a pumping device which uses jet action o f a high pressure and temperature primary motive fluid to entrain and accelerate a slower secondary fluid (load). The resulting kinetic energy of the mixture that is subsequently used for self-compression to a higher pressure, thus fulfills the function of a compressor [7]. A thermo-vapour compression desalination unit mainly comprises a steam jet ejector, a single- or multi-effect evaporator, and an end condenser. The steam ejector is used to compress the vapour from pressure Pv (which is the vapour pressure leaving the evaporator) to Pexit (which is the vapour pressure entering the first effect) by using an external source of steam at a pressure P~. greater than the vapour pressure. A typical ejector consists of four parts - - nozzle, suction chamber, diffuser, and mixing section - - as shown in Fig. 1. The motive steam is expanded through a converging-diverging nozzle (De Laval nozzle) and a low-pressure, high-velocity steam jet is produced. This high velocity steam entrains the low-pressure operating vapour leaving the evaporator and entering the ejector from the suction chamber in the low-pressure mixing zone. The velocity after mixing is lower than that at the nozzle exit. The loss in the kinetic energy is converted into the pressure discharge head, and the mixture flows through the diffuser, emerging from the discharge at a pressure between the suction and the motive fluid pressures.

3. Mathematical model As shown in Fig. lb, the process in the ejector can be classified into three zones:

N.H. Aly et al. / Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8


Motive Steam Ps

section of the ejector, and two models were developed.

3.1. First model

Feed~ Eva porator


Pv l,~.-



Fig. 1a. Single-effectthermo-vapour compression system.

There are some basic assumptions: The process is adiabatic. The motive steam and vapour are supplied to the ejector at zero velocity. The velocity at the ejector outlet is neglected. The mixing between vapour and steam occurred at a constant pressure process at a pressure equal to the vapour pressure. Losses such as wall friction, boundary layer separation in the nozzle, mixing and diffuser sections depend on nozzle, mixing, and diffuser efficiencies.
3.1.1. Nozzle section

!~ ~l .



Saturated steam at a temperature T,, pressure P~ and velocity equal to zero expands through the nozzle with isentropic efficiency, tin, and leaves the nozzle at a temperature T1 and pressure P1. Applying the energy equation between nozzle inlet and exit, the following equations are obtained:

nozzle constant anna diffusersection section mixing section section Fig. lb. Steam jet ejector.

h,-- h,- n,, (hs-h,.,.) v? T = n., {h,-,,,,,)

1. nozzle section, where the steam expands through a nozzle and vapour enters the ejector through a suction chamber; 2. mixing section, where mixing between vapour and steam occurs in a mixing chamber; 3. diffuser section, in which the mixture passes through and converts its kinetic energy into pressure energy. The continuity, momentum, and energy steady-state flow equations were applied for each


where ht~ is the flow enthalpy at the nozzle exit for isentropic expansion.
3.1.2. Mixing section

Applying the momentum equation on the mixing section, assuming the mixing process occurs at constant pressure Pl, equal to the

N.H. Aly et al./Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8

vapour pressurepv, and neglecting the velocity of vapour entering the ejector, we have:

: p2 v3


3.1.3. Diffuser section
Including mixing efficiency for the mixing chamber, the momentum equation reduces to The mixture of load and motive fluid passes through the diffuser, and converts the kinetic energy into pressure energy. At the diffuser exit the velocity is reduced to zero. The energy equation is written as follows:

(W + W) V2 ='r]mWV 1


The energy balance for the mixing section is:

hexit s =

h3 + - 2


A normal shock wave occurs if the velocity of the mixing fluid entering the constant area section is supersonic. In this case a sudden reaction in the mixture velocity and a rise in the pressure take place. The velocity after mixing can be expressed as [8]:

where h e x i t s is the flow enthalpy for the isentropic process. Taking into consideration the isentropic efficiency for the diffuser section rla, the actual exit enthalpy is

hexit =h 3 + - - 2TIa


3.1.4. Calculation procedure

v3 : v-1 v-1
Eqs. (1)-(10) are used to calculate the steam flow required for compressing the unit mass flow of vapour from pressure Pv to pressure P e x i t a s follows: 1. Assume a certain value for the steam to vapour flow ratio as a start. 2. Considering the isentropic expansion process from pressure Ps to pressure P~, the enthalpy of steam at the nozzle exit can be obtained. 3. The actual velocity and enthalpy of flow at the nozzle exit are obtained from Eqs. (1) and (2), respectively. 4. The velocity of steam water mixture V2 is determined from Eq. (4). 5. The state of the flow in the mixing section

From the energy balance before and after shock wave, the enthalpy of the mixture aftershock can be written as

h3 = h2 + --


The density of the flow aftershock is determined by applying the continuity equation, and we have

N.H. Aly et al. / Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8

(state 2) can be determined by the mixing pressure Pv and enthalpy at point 2 [Eq. (5)]. 6. If the velocity at state 2 is supersonic, the velocity of the mixture aftershock can be estimated using Eq. (6). 7. The state 3 after shock is determined by calculating the enthalpy and density at that point from Eqs. (7) and (8), respectively. 8. The enthalpy hexit is used to determine the pressure at the diffuser exit from Eq. (10). 9. Steaps 1-8 are repeated for new values of steam to vapour ratios tills the required exit pressure is obtained. Also for vapour:

All =


Pv --~--1


3.2.2. Mixing section

Applying momentum and energy equations in the mixing section, the flow velocity and temperature are given by

3.2. Second model

In this model, the Mach number and pressure ratio through the ejector at the different sections are developed by applying the mass, energy, and momentum equations. The previous assumptions are also considered in the second model; in addition, the flow in the ejector is considered a perfect gas with a constant specific heat ratio at the superheated region equaling 1.3 and 1.135 at the wet region.

rV 1 + Vlv V2 - - r+l


T2 - - r+l

rT, +r,v


where r is the steam to vapour flow ratio:


3.2.1. Nozzle section

Applying an energy equation between the nozzle inlet and exit yields

V, =~/2q~(hs-h,s )


Referring to the critical speed, M can be defined as the actual velocity divided by the velocity of sound in the mixture at critical conditions, i.e., M = 1 or V*= C*. Eq. (15) can be rewritten in terms of Mach number as

In terms o f the Mach number and pressure ratio, Eq. (1 1) can be written as

M2 =

nmrM,*+M, vr




M,-- n-Ui-

Ps --7-



N.H. Aly et a l . / D e s a l i n a t i o n

123 (1999) 1 - 8

3.2.3. Normal shock wave

The relation between the Mach number upstream and downstream of the shock is given by

c~ -i it)



1 0
1000 750

M3 = 7-1 ~,-1


I I t I


and the pressure lift by the normal shock wave is given by

$ >


1 +vM
P3 /P2 1 +~'M32

Fig. 2. Velocity and pressure profile for steam ejector.


I P s = 10 - CR= 2

I~ozzle efficiencly 1st model Nozzle efficiency 2nd model Diffuser effi ciency 1st model _

3.2.4. Diffuser section



The pressure lift ratio across the diffuser can be expressed by

1.00 0.90 0.80 8O 85 90 95 100

Pexit/P3 =


M 2 +1



Efficiency, %

4. R e s u l t s

Fig. 3. Effect of nozzle and diffuser efficiency on the steam to vapour ratio.

Based on the described analysis, using two different approaches, a computer program has been developed to create two models for a singlestage steam vapour ejector. The velocity and pressure profiles at various points through the ejector for steam, vapour and the mixture of the two are shown in Fig. 2. The following simulation results are based on an evaporator temperature operating range from 45C to 80C, the motive steam varied from 5-25 bar, and the ejector compression range was from 1.3 to 3. Efficiencies are assumed to be 90, 90, 95 for the nozzle, diffuser, and mixing processes, respectively [9].

It is worth mentioning that the nozzle and diffuser efficiencies have a significant influence on the system performance. To test the effect of the nozzle and diffuser energies on the results, the motive steam to vapour flow ratio is calculated for different values ofqn and "qd.A fall in nozzle efficiency from 100% to 80% was predicted to result in a 25% increase in the steam to vapour ratio. Diffuser efficiency also has an effect on steam to vapour ratio as shown in Fig. 3; however, its influence is less significant compared with that of the nozzle efficiency.

N.H. Aly et al. / Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8

5.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 0 5

I I --

I CR=1.3

I 1st model 2ndmodel 'lst model 2rid model

2.5 2.0 > 1.5

I C R =2.0 1st m o d e l -

Ps = 10 bar

CR=1.3 CR=2.5

CR=2.~ 2 n d
CR=1.3 C R = I


lstmodel ~



0.5 0.0 25 4O

. . . . . . . .

10 Ps, bar




60 Tv, C



Fig. 4. Effect of motive steam pressure on steam to vapour ratio.

Fig. 5. Effect of evaporator temperature on steam to vapour flow ratio.

- -

P.=~s b.rl.t
~s=d~bar 2nd

Tv=50 L,

/ /

./ .f"
~3.00 t" --



r=.5 Power r=.5 1tit m o d e l r--,5 2rid m o d e l

r-2powor . 7"


P,d~b~, 1st

r=2 l i t m o d e l r s 2 2nd m o d e l !

. .






~ ~ = s

= - ~ --" $ = el0

--=--~-~=~-~ ~ 2

3 4 s = 7 J DIO0


2.0 Compression ratio



1.00 2

Expansion ratio, Ps/Pv

Fig. 6. Effect o f v a p o u r compression ratio on the steam to

vapour flow ratio.

Fig. 7. Compression ratio vs. expansion ratio for the steam ejector.

In Figs. 4-7, the effect of the design parameters on steam consumption is investigated. These design parameters are motive steam pressure, evaporator temperature, and vapour compression ratio through the ejector. Fig. 4. shows the effect of motive steam pressure on the steam to vapour ratio at an evaporator temperature of 70C. It is clear that increasing the steam pressure results in decreasing the steam requirements up to almost 15 bar where any further increase in motive steam pressure has a slight effect in decreasing the steam requirements.

The effect of the evaporator temperature and compression ratio on the steam to vapour ratio are shown in Figs. 5 and 6. Fig. 5 shows that the evaporator temperature has a small impact on the steam consumption. On the contrary, the pressure rise across the evaporator has a significant influence on the steam consumption, as expected. The results are also compared with the empirical correlation in the form o f graphs based on Power [1]. Fig. 7 shows the expansion ratio (steam pressure/suction pressure) vs. the compression ratio at steam to vapour flow ratios equal to 0.5 and 2.0 (as shown in Fig. 6). The

N.H. Aly et al./Desalination 123 (1999) 1-8

results o f the two models are found to be in good agreement with Power, their deviations being in the range o f 10-15% (as shown in Fig. 7). Figs. 3-7 show that results of the two models are close to each other in the low compression ratio operating range. The discrepancies may result from considering the vapour as a perfect gas and the assumption o f constant specific heat ratio even in the wet region.



Velocity, m/s Mass flowrate, kg/s

---Ratio of specific heat, Cp/Cv Efficiency Density, kg/m 3

5. C o n c l u s i o n s 1 --

Two models for a single-stage steam jet ejector have been developed. The effect of the different motive and load parameters on the steam consumption was shown. The results show good agreement between the two models and empirical curves by Power. Further work should be conducted on the present analysis to estimate the actual mixing temperature in the ejector and to use more accurate specific heat ratios in the two-phase flow region as a function o f the dryness fraction and pressure. The model could be coupled with a model for a multi-effect desalination system developed by the author [10] to study the performance o f thermo-vapour compression desalination systems.

2 3 exit d m n S s v vl


Mixing entrance Just before normal shock wave After shock wave Ejector exit Diffuser Mixing Nozzle Steam Isentropic process Vapour Vapour at nozzle outlet


[1] B.R. Power, Steam Jet Ejectors for Process Industries,

6. S y m b o l s


CR h M
M" --

p r

Cross sectional area, m 2 Sonic velocity, m/s Compression ratio, Pexit/Pv Specific enthalpy, kJ/kg Mach number Actual mixture velocity divided by the velocity of sound in the mixture at critical conditions Pressure, bar Steam to vapour mass flow rates Temperature, oC

McGraw-Hill, New York, 1994. [2] J.H. Keenan and E.P. Neumann, ASME J. Appl. Mech., (1942) A75. [3] J.H. Keenan and E.P. Neumann, ASME J. Appl. Mech., (1950) 299. [4] S.K. Gupta, R.P. Singh and R.S. Dixit, Chem. Eng. J., 18 (1979) 81. [5] S.P. Rao and R.P. Singh, Chem. Eng. Comm., 66 (1988) 207. [6] I.W. Eames, S. Aphomratana and H. Haider, Int. J. Refrig., 18(6) (1995) 387. [7] K.T. Lu, H. Kou and T.H. Lan, Energy Convers. Mgmt., 34(12) (1993) 1287. [8] D.-W. Sun and I.W. Eames, Int. J. Energy Res., 20 (1996) 871. [9] N.M. AI-Najem, M.A. Darwish and F.A. Youssef, Desalination, 110 (1997) 223. [10] N.H. Aly and M.A. Marwan, Desalination, 114 (1997) 189.