Causes of Overpressure – Accumulation of Noncondensables

The overhead piping configurations of some distillation systems may allow noncondensable gases to accumulate to such an extent that the overhead condenser is essentially blocked. For example, if the system is designed for total condensing of the overhead flow, any noncondensable materials that may inadvertently enter the system may collect in the reflux accumulator and “back up” into the condenser.

The effect of this contingency is the same as loss of cooling to the condenser, with eventual loss of reflux. The required relief flow rate can be calculated in the same way described above for that contingency.

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