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HYDRODYNAMIC ANALYSIS OF FLUE GAS FLOW BEHAVIOR WITHIN A

HEAT RECOVERY STEAM GENERATOR


Hanieh Khalili Param
MapnaBoiler Co.
R&D Department, MapnaBoiler Co., Tehran, Iran
h_khalili@mecheng.iust.ac.ir

Mojtaba Moghari, moghari@mapnaboiler.com

Hosein Sharifi, sharifi@mapnaboiler.com


Mahdi Karami,
me_karami@mecheng.iust.ac.ir
Payam Niknahad
Niknahad_p@mapna.com

Abstract
A detailed 3D numerical simulation on flue gas flow exhausted from a gas turbine (GT) was
conducted to predict hydrodynamic characteristics of the fluid flow through a heat recovery
steam generator (HRSG) producing 215ton/hr steam at a full unit load. To avoid the known
important destructive problem in HRSGs, non-uniformity of the gas flow at the upstream of
HRSGs heating surfaces, certain configuration modifications including installing a flow
correction device (FCD) in the inlet duct, experiencing a huge steepness in height, and
doubling the inlet duct were proposed. Besides addressing the influence of the application of
mentioned modifications on the flow field, this paper was aimed at studying the effect of
shortening the HRSG inlet duct length and eliminating the GT swirl effect on the velocity
profile in the inlet duct. The governing transport equations for the turbulent gas flow were
solved numerically using the finite volume methodology. To evaluate the uniformity of the
velocity distribution prior to the first stage (HP superheater) inlet plane, the parameter RMS
was calculated at the same location. Since the obtained RMS is less than the requirement of
the average axial velocity in the plane (i.e., RMS=28.52%), there is no need to employ the
prescribed configuration modifications. Nonetheless, utilizing FCD and double duct leads to
reduction in RMS to 22.97% and 26.71%, respectively. Moreover, calculated RMS values, not
exceeding the limiting criterion 35%, enables us to lower the length of the HRSG inlet duct
from 14m to 12m.

INTRODUCTION
In today technology, one of the most efficient energy conversion systems is the combined-
cycle power plant, i.e. the arrangement of a gas turbine with a steam bottoming cycle. In a
typical combined cycle, the flue gas exhausted from the gas turbine carries a significant deal
of thermal energy. This involved potential is recovered in a Heat Recovery Steam Generator
(HRSG). Different heating sections, located in a HRSG, including superheater, evaporator
and economizer, make their own contributions to extract the hot gas energy. HRSG
performance has a large impact on the overall performance of a combined-cycle power plant.
An accurate simulation of the HRSG Performance is therefore necessary to analyze the effects
of numerous possible operating conditions on the combined-cycle power plant performance.
Besides, the optimization of the heat recovery is extremely significant in order to gain
maximum energy savings from these systems (Horlock 1992). HRSGs can be designed in
either horizontal or vertical tube bank arrangement (Buecker 2002), depending on different
functional and operating conditions. Figure 1a shows the overall view of a vertical HRSG unit
designed by MapnaBoiler Company. One of the important issues in HRSGs design that must
be taken into consideration is the hydrodynamic behavior of the hot gas flow passing over
heat exchange tube banks. A non-uniform flow distribution at upstream and then over heating
surfaces in HRSGs can lead to destructive impacts such as shock or vibration, or even fatigue
on tubes for a long-term period. Significant difference the HRSG duct experiences in height,
varying from at the duct inlet (GT exhaust) to about at the duct section where
the heating surfaces are located, causes a sudden expansion along the gas flow, resulting in a
non-uniform flow approaching heating surfaces.
Thus, to predict such unfavorable events and to take preventive measures, gaining a detailed
knowledge of fluid flow and heat transfer fields within HRSGs seems to be very necessary.
Today, due to many advances made in computer hardware and software capabilities,
computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation techniques have come to assist engineers to
find out complex hydrodynamic and thermal phenomena which take place in industrial
equipment (Rahimi et al. 2006 & Khoshhal et al. 2009). To investigate the gas flow profile
within a vertical tube HRSG, Lee et al. (2002) carried out computational as well as
experimental studies. They analyzed the swirl effect in the hot flue gas exiting a gas turbine
on the distribution of the flow at upstream of a duct burner. They also developed a flow
correction device (FCD), composed of an arrangement of pipes, by which the gas flow
approaching the duct burner became more uniform. In another attempt toward using a FCD to
obtain further uniformity in the flow distribution in a HRSG duct, Hedge et al. (2007) also
made a modification in the internal configuration of the HRSG. Validating their numerical
computations with a laboratory prototype, similar to a horizontal-tube HRSG, they
investigated the influence of a FCD on the profile of the gas flow entering high pressure
superheater. They modeled the FCD by a perforated plate of a given open area. They also
attain a further uniform flow distribution through moving the perforated plate to a better
location in an optimizing process. In the present paper, rather inspired by the work of Hedge
et al., a numerical procedure was taken to analyze the hydrodynamic treatment of combustive
gas flow within a given HRSG duct beginning from a GT exhaust (or diverter damper) to the
HRSG stack exit. The HRSG unit, which is designed by Mapnaboiler Company in Jandar
project, is located in Syria. A particular velocity profile, given by the GT manufacturer, was
assumed at the HRSG inlet. Heating surfaces, including superheaters, evaporators, and
economizers, were modeled as porous media causing a certain pressure drop in the gas flow.
The favorable effect of the FCD on the distribution of the gas flow was numerically examined
by putting a perforated plate with a specific geometry prior to the first heat transfer section,
higher pressure superheater. Similar to the heating surfaces, the perforated plate was viewed
as a porous medium. The proposed numerical procedure was validated for a horizontal tube
HRSG laboratory model which was tested by Hedge et al. (2007). In order to introduce a
criterion for the uniformity of flow distributions, RMS was defined. By calculating the RMS
values as well as observing the flow field, the influential role of using the proposed FCD in
providing a more uniform flow distribution was proved. Furthermore, duct-doubling effect on
improving the gas flow profile, reducing RMS, was also analyzed.

GOVERNING EQUATIONS
The conservative equations including continuity, momentum, and energy equations were
solved for three dimensional space confined by the HRSG ducts as lateral sides, the GT exit
as inlet, and the stack exhaust as outlet. The time-averaged governing equations for
continuity, momentum and energy are given as equations 1 to 3, respectively. (Pope 2000).

( )
0 i
i
u
t x


+ =


(1)

( ) ( ) ( )
2

3
i j k
i i j
ij i j
j i j j i k j
P u u u
u u u
t x x x x x
u u
x x

( | |

+ = + + + ( |
|

\

(

(2)
( ) ( )
eff
i E
i i i
T
E u E P k S
x x x

| |

(
+ + = +
|


\
(3)
where E and E S indicate total energy and energy source appearing in averaged terms in
turbulent energy equations. To predict prevailing turbulent regime over the fluid and heat
transfer field, the standard model was used. The heat exchange sections-superheater;
evaporator; and economizer- as well as the employed FCD, a particular perforated plate, were
treated as porous media of given geometry causing pressure drop in the gas flow as follows.
2

2
g g
u u
P
F
l K
(

= +
(

(

(4)
where l , K and F stand for the thickness of the medium, the permeability of the medium,
and the inertia factor, respectively. The velocity
g
u appearing in the equation (4) denotes the
streamwise average velocity of the gas flow entering each porous medium. Owing to the
turbulent nature of the existing gas flow, associated with high-Re regime, the pressure drop is
mostly governed by inertia forces and so varies with second order of the velocity; thus, the
first term in the right hand side of the equation (4), becoming dominant in the low-Re flows,
can be got rid of in the present study. To determine the inertia factor for the FCD the
following expression can be used (Idelchik 1994).
2
2
0.707 1 1 / F
(
= +

(5)
Where is the open area ratio of the perforated plate.

THE HRSG DESCRIPTION AND ITS BOUNDARY CONDITIONS
In the present work, a double-pressure vertical tube HRSG whose geometric was chosen to be
numerically modeled. As shown, the HRSG installed after a GT is 49.1m high and 34m long.
The square entrance through which the exhausted gas passes toward the HRSG duct is 5.6m
in side. The further geometric details can be found in figure 1b. There are five cases taken to
study. In case1, the plain HRSG unit is numerically examined.
(a)

(b)

Figure 1: (a) an overall view of HRSG unit designed by MapnaBoiler Co., (b) a 3D schematic
view of HRSG unit used in the present study

In case2, to investigate the effect of a flow correction device (FCD) on the gas flow pattern, a
perforated plate with 50% open area is placed at the inlet duct. Then, the influence of
doubling the inlet duct, eliminating the gas flow swirl, and finally shortening the inlet duct
length from 14 m to 12 m, are analyzed in Case3, Case4 and Case5 respectively. In all cases
the working fluid is a combustion gas leaving the gas turbine and marching through the
HRSG duct at the rate of around 476.13 kg/s and the temperature of 542
0
C. The thermo-
physical and transport properties of the flue gas, which is composed of combustion-produced
compound, vary with temperature experiencing high changes from 542C to 196C
throughout HRSG. The chemical composition of the flue gas and the site condition in which
the HRSG is running is presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Flue chemical composition and site condition
Characteristic Value
Ambient Air Temperature 26 C
Altitude from sea level 625.7 m
Fuel Chemical Composition(%Mass) CO
2
: 4.971%
H
2
O: 5.072%
N
2
: 73.239%
O
2
: 15.493%
Ar: 1.225%
At the HRSH inlet, a particular velocity profile for the flue gas flow is determined by the GT
manufacturer, reported in figure 2. The pressure at the HRSG stack exit is assumed to be
constant, namely 0 bar gauge. The HRSG duct walls are insulated, considered then as
adiabatic boundaries. The heat exchange sections of the HRSG, having the role of receiving
fraction of the flue gas thermal potential to raise the inside water enthalpy and to finally
produce 215 ton/hr superheated steam, are finned heating surfaces treated as porous media of
specific geometry.



Axial component Radial component Tangential component
Figure 2: Inlet velocity distribution at the GT exhaust provided by the GT manufacturer (m/s)
The three main heating surface sections are superheater, evaporator and economizer which
have their own contribution to producing superheated steam. In the superheater, the saturated
steam becomes superheated. The evaporator tasks are both to increase the enthalpy of the
water leaving the economizer to achieve the saturated liquid level and to produce saturated
steam. The economizer has also the duty of raising the enthalpy of the entered subcooled
water to meet the temperature approach requirement. To model the present heating surfaces,
five separate porous zones, named modules 1 to 5, are considered as Table 2. As the gas flow
passes through every module, a certain pressure drop is experienced by the flow. These
pressure drops, measured in the utility site where the HRSG has been set up, are applied to the
numerical solution. Table 3 presents the reported pressure drops and also calculated F
coefficient which is defined in the Equation 5. In addition, the rate of heat transfer absorbed
by each module is calculated using the documents provided by MapnaBoiler Co. In the
energy equation, the modules are indeed treated as heat sinks whose absorptions are listed in
Table 3.

Table 2: List of porous Zones
Module Regions
1 High pressure superheater
2 High pressure evaporator
3 2
nd
Economizer of High pressure stage
4 Superheater and Evaporator of low pressure stage with 1
st
Economizer of High pressure stage
5 Low pressure Economizer and internal Dearator

Table 3: characteristic of porous zones
Module Pressure Drop
(mbar)
F(1/m)
Absorbed
Heat/Volume(W/m
3
)
Module1 3.42 45.10 -345247.2
Module2 6.48 50.41 -330003.7
Module3 3.51 49.05 -174960.8
Module4 2.75 35.40 -152202.3
Module5 1.86 44.33 -240781.6

NUMERICAL PROCEDURE
The governing transport equations were solved using the finite volume method. The pressure
field was linked to that of the velocity through the well-known SIMPLE pressure correction
algorithm proposed by Patankar & Spalding (1972). For the spatial discretization, QUICK
scheme was used. Due to the turbulent feature of the gas flow, the two-equation
standard model was served. The conservative equations were solved in an iterative
sequence until all convergence criteria for unknown variables were met. All numerical
computations have been carried out on the domain divided by a non-uniform multiblock
structured grids, capable of higher concentration of nodes on the regions exposed to larger
gradients. A schematic view of grid resolution is shown in figure 3 (top view).

Figure 3: A schematic view of grid resolution(top view)

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Before performing the proposed numerical experiments, the validity of the present numerical
procedure must be substantiated. Thus, the same iterative method is applied to 2D horizontal-
tube HRSG laboratory model, the case study presented by Hegde et al. (2007), figure 4.The
comparison of Hegde et al.s data and the present results in terms of the streamwise velocity
distributions for the specified planes, figure 5, shows that a good coincidence is achieved,
validating the proposed numerical procedure.

Figure 4: Schematic of the HRSG laboratory model conducted by Hegde et al. (2007).



Figure 5: Comparison of the present prediction with Hegde et al.(2007)

To determine a suitable grid which provides sufficiently accurate results independent of grid
systems, the axial velocity profiles in lines (x=15.17 m, z=0) and ( x=4.80 m, z=0) are
depicted for three different grids in Figures 6a and 6b, respectively. As can be seen in the
figures, moving from the coarser grid (919084 cells) to the grid composed of 1583884 cells
results in a difference between the velocity profiles; however, using the finer grid (2575084
cells) leads to negligible variation in axial velocity profiles as compared to the medium grid
(1583884 cells). Thus, the numerical results were obtained for this proposed grid (medium
grid). For the first case, the axial velocity contour in the symmetric plane (z=0) is shown in
figure 7. As shown in this figure, the dramatic expansion in the HRSG duct cross section
causes the exhaust flue gas to detach from the duct upper surface, creating a considerable
separation region in the duct. This phenomenon makes the streamlines contract and
concentrate toward the bottom edge of the duct. Consequently, due to the presence of the
recirculation region, the flow accelerates in the lower part of the duct while decelerating in the
upper part, leading to a highly non-uniform velocity distribution prior to the first heating
surface. Passing through the heating surfaces, the flow pattern poses a considerable uniform
shape caused by the compact finned tubes which are assumed as the porous zones.

Figure 6: Axial velocity profiles in (a) line x=15.17 m, z=0 and (b) line (x=4.8 m, z=0)


Figure 7: Axial velocity of the first case at the symmetric plane (m/s)

Figure 8a depicts the streamlines of case 1 in the symmetric plane of inlet duct. In this figure,
the recirculation region (mentioned above) can be detected more obviously. Also an
enormous curvature occurs in the streamlines in a large area of shown region. Figures 8b to 8e
show the streamlines of cases 2 to 5, respectively. Figure 8b clearly shows the FCD influence
in the flue gas velocity field. As depicted, the existence of FCD shrinks the separation region
to a considerable degree as compared to that in the non-modified HRSG. The effect of duct-
doubling technique on the hot gas flow field is shown in figure 8c. As compared with figure
8a, the doubled duct breaks the recirculation region, causing the flow reattachment to occur in
advance, and so contracting the region.





Figure 8: Velocity contour with streamlines in the inlet duct for all cases (m/s)
Figure 8d is related to the streamlines of case 4 that eliminates the swirling component of inlet
velocity. It can be seen that the flow pattern in this case is very similar to the base case and it
is not affected by the swirling flow. Hence, separation and recirculation regions are
dominated by axial velocity rather than tangential and radial components of inlet velocity.
The streamlines of the last case is depicted in figure 8e. For this case, a dramatic reduction in
flow pattern competence occurs and the streamlines pass the inlet duct outlet with more
enormous vertical component. Although the duct length reduction may provide some
economical results, it can be seen that it affects the flow performance severely.
The inlet velocity distribution to the HP superheater is represented in figure 9. As expected
from the changes the gas flow undergoes as passing through the suddenly expanding duct, the
axial velocity magnitudes become considerably reduced in the central and upper part of the
HP superheater inlet plane, figure 9a, while getting further in the lower part. Since the
maximum axial component in the inlet velocity occurs at the right bottom corner of the inlet
plane, figure 2, the axial velocity magnitude reaches its maximum value at the same position
of the superheater inlet section. A low speed region can be seen at the middle of the plane
related to recirculating flow. Getting far from the middle part of superheater plane, the axial
velocity begins to increase as a result of gradual disappearing of separation phenomenon.
Comparing with figure 9a, figure 9b depicts the same results for case 2. One can see a more
uniform flow distribution in case 2 than of case1. Both low speed and high speed regions have
been vanished due to FCD operation.



Figure 9: The inlet velocity distribution to the HP superheater ( m/s)
The axial velocity of the third case at superheater plane is shown in figure 9c. It is observed
that using a double-duct instead of a single duct yields to a better uniformity in the flow
distribution at the superheater plane, but it is still not more effective than the FCD
implementation. In this case, both low speed and high speed regions have been weakened
considerably. The effect of removing the swirling part of inlet velocity is depicted in figure 9d
which is related to case 4. One can see that there is no noticeable difference between this
figure and Figure 7a. This means that the tangential and radial parts of flow do not affect the
flow pattern at the superheater plane considerably. The axial velocity distribution of the last
case is shown in figure 9e. Regarding this figure, it is concluded that the low-speed region in
the middle of the plane gets larger and the uniformity of the flow decreases comparing with
figure 9a. The magnitude is also increased due to the fact that separation occurrence draws the
gas flow toward the lower surface of the duct. Figure 10 depicts the axial velocity profiles for
five simulated cases along the vertical line of the middle of the superheater plane.

Figure 10: Axial velocity for simulated cases along the the middle of the superheater plane
A similar pattern can be observed for cases 1, 3, 4 and 5 while the result of case 2 is totally
different from other cases. For cases 1, 3, 4 and 5, the peak of velocity occurs at the bottom of
the plane and there is a minimum velocity at y=11 m. both of these maximum and minimum
points have been seen at the superheater plane (see figures 9a, 9d and 9e). The maximum
velocity has become considerably smaller for case 3 while the minimum velocity region has
disappeared totally. For case 2, the maximum velocity can be seen at y of about 14 meter
while the minimum velocity occurs at the bottom of the plane and the curve has a relatively
uniform distribution comparing with the other profiles.

RMS value of velocity distribution
The non-uniformity in the flue gas velocity profile brings about a discrepancy of heat transfer
coefficient and so thermal absorption in different height of the HP superheater. In the lower
height, the HP superheater tubes take in higher amount of flue gas energy and so their
temperature gets further, whereas, in the upper height, less heat is gained by the tubes and
they experience less temperature in comparison.
This unfavorable phenomenon may cause twisted tubes in the HP superheater and have
drawbacks such as vibration, thermal shock, and long-term failure as well. It also leads to
more serious problems in the HRSG heating surfaces, specially in HP superheater, if duct
burner is installed in the HRSG duct. Another negative impact generally observed when the
hot gas flow exhibits non-uniform distribution is the HP superheater would not be capable of
attaining the desired temperature for the superheated steam. Therefore, using some techniques
with the purpose of creating a more uniform velocity distribution in the HRSG duct seems to
be required to avoid mentioned problems. To measure the non-uniformity in the gas flow the
parameter is defined as follows.
[ ]
2
. 1
.

100 % ,
n
i
i av
i
av
u u
RMS
n u


= =


(5)
Where
i
u and
avg
u represent the local velocity and the average velocity magnitudes and n is
the number of cells. RMS is calculated in the duct cross section at the inlet plane of the HP
superheater to obtain whether or not the entering flow is uniform. In turn, it is introduced as a
uniformity criterion not to be exceeded. The allowable value for RMS considered by most
HRSG designer companies is in the range of 30-40% at HP superheater inlet. Although the
computed RMS in the present study is 28.52%, less than permitted value, but two
modifications were made in the HRSG configuration, using a flow correction device and a
double duct, to obtain detailed knowledge of how these techniques succeed in improving the
velocity distribution and so lowering RMS. The calculated for this improved case,
22.97%, also proves this technique so significantly affects the velocity field prior to HP
superheater that a desirable uniformity is achieved. Modification in case3, reduces RMS vlaue
from 28.52% to 26.71%, even though it is not as successful in improving the velocity
distribution as the FCD is. As mentioned above, eliminating the swirl effect of inlet velocity
profile has not such a considerable effect on velocity distribution and increased the RMS value
from 28.52% to 28.86%. Being less than the permissible criterion 35% in all above cases, the
low values of RMS provides the chance of decreasing the whole length of the HRSG duct,
case5. As shown before, it generates more non-uniformity in the velocity profile at the HP
superheater entrance. An increase in RMS value from 28.52%, in non-modified case1, to
29.48%, in the present case in which the duct length is shorten 2m, also verifies this non-
uniformity rise. However, with respect to the allowable criterion 35%, the estimated value,
29.48%, is acceptable, allowing the HRSG to reduce its length to 12m and resulting in an
economic benefit in its manufacturing. The RMS value in summarized for all cases in Table 4.
Table 4: RMS value for all cases
28.52% Case1
22.97% Case2
26.71% Case3
28.86% Case4
29.48% Case5

CONCLUSIONS
A computational procedure for investigating hydrodynamic behavior of a combustion gas
flow exhausted from a GT and passing through a HRSG was detailed. Certain techniques
including installing a FCD in the inlet duct and doubling the inlet duct were served to avoid
the non-uniformity of the gas flow at the upstream of the HRSG heating surfaces, considered
as unfavorable impact. The influence of such modifications on the gas flow field within the
HRSG duct was numerically experimented. Contracting the separation region taking place in
the duct, these two modifications reduced the non-uniformity criterion, RMS value, from
28.52% in the plain HRSG to 22.97% for the case2 wherein the FCD was installed and to
26.71% for the case3 wherein the duct was doubled. In addition, the effect of eliminating the
GT swirl effect and shortening the HRSG inlet duct length on the velocity profile in the inlet
duct were elucidated. Though these two changes led to an increase in value, 28.86% for
eliminating the GT swirl effect (case4) and 29.48% for shortening the duct length, they still
remain under the non-uniformity requirement. Thus, lowering the length of the HRSG inlet
duct from 14 m to 12 m which offers economic benefit is permissible.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support provided by MAPNA Company.

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