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Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray?

Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray?
Poomin S.
Deputy Process Manager / Lead Process Engineer at Technip

Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray? Sulzer did it with very small
velocity of 0.13m/s. Some company may permit more than this value to ensure liquid degassing. Please

(14) 2013 1 21

Charles G. Poomin S. 3

Greg S.
Technical and Proposals Manager at Koch-Glitsch UK

Dear Poomin,
Greg The best published criteria for design of downcomers can be found in the old Glitsch tray design
manual, bulletin 4900 from the 1993, equation 1. There are 3 criteria for design velocity depending
on difference in density between the vapour and the liquid, tray spacing and and system factor.
This design basis is still used in the industry today for conventional downcomers with only slight
variations to bring it up to date.
The superficial velocity in the downcomer is not the correct criteria for design of the downcomer,
and should not be used.
The latest downcomer design correlations are to be found in KG-TOWER(TM) software, available
as a free download from the Koch-Glitsch website.
Different downcomer design correlations are used for high capacity trays, and these correlations
are proprietary to the manufacturer, i.e. tend to be commercially confidential.
FRI also have proprietary downcomer design correlations which are available to members of the
FRI, see

Ashraf L.
Technical Sales Director at GTC Technology (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

Hi Poonim
As suggested by others the velocity in the downcomer is a function of fluid properties, tray spacing
and application you are dealing. Basically it is a sizing tool for downcomer with a view to provide
sufficient residence time in the downcomer for the two phase mixture to separate. You may want
to refer to Distillation Design book by Henry Kister to get a more understanding (to a certain
extent) of the same and limits in various application.

Poomin S.
Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray? |

Deputy Process Manager / Lead Process Engineer at Technip

Thank you for your advice. I went to Distillation design book already and I got a procedure to
check the existing downcomer, I am working on it.

Greg S.
Technical and Proposals Manager at Koch-Glitsch UK

Dear Poomin,
Greg I am pleased you are making progress. I would strongly recommend that you download KG-
TOWER(TM) software. It is easy to use and will provide you with an accurate hydraulic rating for
the downcomer, and indeed the rest of the tray. This is the software which is very widely used by
industry professionals and is free to download.

Stann S.
Technical Professional Leader-Process-Vessel Analytical at KBR, Inc.

To add confusion to this discussion, some designers also look carefully at the exit velocity of the
Stann liquid under the downcomer. To meet a requirement might mean to move the downcomer away
from the wall (larger chord distance). This would make the downcomer area at the top larger than
required by standard downcomer calculations. The exit velocity is system dependent. A foaming
system or a high pressure fractionator may require careful analysis of the exit velocity under the
downcomer. Consult with tray vendors on specifics for your system.

bingo J.
Lead Process Engineer at TianJin Chuangju Technology

Hi, Stann .Exit velocity is critical to foaming system, what's about high pressure fraction column?
bingo how do it influence this system?

Stann S.
Technical Professional Leader-Process-Vessel Analytical at KBR, Inc.

Personally, I would consult with the tray vendors for high pressure systems that have a low
Stann density difference and very low surface tension. Some operating companies have their own
distillation experts who are priviledge to have acces to actual plant data and a few painful
memories of why there were past failures in column operations.

Frank R.
Consultant at Rukovena Consulting

I agree with Stann that you should check with the vendors. However you should continue to learn
Frank all you can about the design equations and methods. You can go the the website and see
what publications they have in the public domain. If you really want to get deeply in to the topic of
tray desigh your or your company should join FRI (Fractionation Research Inc) which has about
70 years of data on try operations from deep vacuum to 500 psia.

Himanshu M.
Owner, Himgiri Process Solutions

Does down comer backup play a role in deciding the limit of down comer velocity.?

Greg S.
Technical and Proposals Manager at Koch-Glitsch UK
Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray? |

Greg Dear Himanshu,

For conventional tray design it is normal practice to consider downcomer backup and downcomer
choke flood separately. You must also consider velocity under the downcomer.

Downcomer backup is calculated as clear liquid, and the tray designer sets a limit for downcomer
backup as a percentage of tray spacing. For very high pressure systems it may be necessary to
limit downcomer backup to as low as 30% of the tray spacing. This is because the clear liquid
basis does not take account of the density difference between the vapour and the liquid. Please
be careful that you get different liquid backup figures depending on the correlation you use. The
downcomer backup limit for design purposes is therefore dependent on the method you use to
calculate it. Experience in this regard is vital for design in high pressure service.

Design velocity is an integral part of the downcomer choke flood correlation. Do not use superficial
downcomer velocity as the sole basis to size a downcomer.

The other contributors are absolutely correct when they say that you should consult a specialist
when you design trays for high pressure service. Past experience of the application is absolutely

Himanshu M.
Owner, Himgiri Process Solutions

Thanks greg

Aadam A.
Technical Director at Distillation Equipment Company Ltd

Hello Poomin,

The purpose of a downcomer is to disengage entrained vapour from the aerated liquid. In sizing
the downcomer the two main criteria that need to be considered are:

Downcomer “Choke” Flood

Downcomer Back-Up Flood

The downcomer choke flood should not be based solely on an entrance liquid velocity since it is
not superficial liquid velocity per se that is critical but rather the liquid residence time in the

An entrance velocity of 0.13 m/s is a good starting point - for a standard non foaming system
operating at less than 6 bar g with a tray spacing of 24”. We use a figure of 0.12 m/s (180 gpm/ft²)
which translates to a residence time of 5 seconds.

For optimising tray designs, the downcomer can be sloped up to where the bottom area is a
minimum of 50% of the top area. The logic behind this is that the liquid at the bottom of the
downcomer is less aerated than the liquid at the top thus requiring less residence time for
disengagement. Sloping the downcomer as such would give a mean residence time of 4.4

The downcomer size (width) is de-rated pro-rata to the tray spacing.

The downcomer size (width) is also de-rated pro-rata to the system or foaming factor.

Consideration also needs to be given to the liquid through over the weir. This is quite often
neglected. Ideally we do not want the liquid to strike the column wall (shell) until the liquid falls half
way down the tray spacing. This will avoid premature choke flood. A method for calculating the
Anyone can suggest the criteria of velocity in downcomer for valve tray? |

liquid throw is given by W L Bolles (Optimum Bubble-Cap Tray Design, Part I – Tray Dynamics,
Petroleum Processing, 1956, p64-80).

The downcomer back-up (flood) is a function of the following:

Dry pressure drop

Wet pressure drop
Head loss due to the liquid flowing under the downcomer

Calculated as clear liquid, the back-up should not exceed 50% of the tray spacing for a system
operating at 6 bar g or less. For high pressure service above 24 bar g the back-up should be less
than 35% of the tray spacing. A longer residence time is required at high operating pressures due
the increased difficulty of disengaging the vapour from the liquid as their respective densities are
much closer together.

The head loss under the downcomer can be reduced by increasing the downcomer clearance.
However, care needs to be taken as the downcomer clearance influences the liquid flow pattern
across the tray which in turn can impact on the tray efficiency.

Other methods of reducing the downcomer back-up are to use radius edge (tip) downcomer
panels, inlet pans and also low pressure drop valves.

Andrew K.
Consulting Engineer

Please provide what is the service that need liquid degassing, normally the fluid is hydrocarbon in
nature and the temperature in the column elevated so that is not real concern for degassing as

jitendra K.
Jr.Engineer at kanpur fertilizer & cement ltd (a jaypee group)

pump press with gravity.