Diminishing fossil fuel reserves and a growing collective environmental awareness has led to the development of alternative methods of power generation such as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). Although almost all existing CSP plants currently use water-cooled condensers, limited water supplies in the designated desert regions for such power plants, the high costs associated with providing cooling water and environmental considerations will all restrict the future use of water-cooled condensers. Air-cooled condensers (ACCs) are therefore proposed, despite evidence to suggest that they suffer from significant inefficiencies [1]. It has been suggested that a modular design, addressed in this paper, could offer solutions to issues with current ACC technologies. To fully characterise the modular ACC design it is necessary to quantify the steam-side characteristics. A series of tests were performed under vacuum conditions representative of an operational condenser. The condenser vacuum was measured for a series of incremental fan rotational speeds, to determine both the qualitative and quantitative relationship between fan speed and condenser pressure. Results indicate that for a given steam mass flow rate, the condenser pressure decreases with increasing fan rotational speed. Furthermore, the choice of vacuum pump, used to displace air leakages, was shown to have a significant influence on the steam-side response. Larger displacement-capacity vacuum pumps permit lower condenser pressures. The steam condensation pressure drop through the condenser tubes was also measured. Results for the measured pressure drop revealed a large level of momentum recovery, which is not uncommon in steam condensation processes. Experimental frictional pressure drops were determined and these compared favourably with certain two-phase frictional pressure drop correlations. In particular, the Lockhart & Martinelli correlation was found to be most capable of predicting the frictional pressure drop trends encountered during testing. The large level of agreement between the measurements and predictions provide confidence in future use of the Lockhart & Martinelli correlation to predict frictional pressure losses.

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