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steam condenser[′stēm kən‚den·sər]
A heat-transfer device used for condensing steam to water by removal of the latent heat of steam and its subsequent absorption in a heat-receiving fluid, usually water, but on occasion air or a process fluid. Steam condensers may be classified as contact or surface condensers.
In the contact condenser, the condensing takes place in a chamber in which the steam and cooling water mix. The direct contact surface is provided by sprays, baffles, or void-effecting fill. In the surface condenser, the condensing takes place separated from the cooling water or other heat-receiving fluid (or heat sink). A metal wall, or walls, provides the means for separation and forms the condensing surface.
Both contact and surface condensers are used for process systems and for power generation serving engines and turbines. Modern practice has confined the use of contact condensers almost entirely to such process systems as those involving vacuum pans, evaporators, or dryers, and to condensing and dehumidification processes inherent in vacuum-producing equipment such as steam jet ejectors and vacuum pumps. The steam surface condenser is used chiefly in power generation but is also used in process systems, especially in those in which condensate recovery is important. Air-cooled surface condensers are used in process systems and in power generation when the availability of cooling water is limited. See Steam, Steam turbine, Vapor condenser