The Sugar Engineers

Sugar Factory Tubes for Heating, Evaporating and Crystallising

Some desirable characteristics of tubes for juice heaters, evaporators and pans are

The choice material is between:

In practice the choice is between mild steel, 304 stainless steel or 439 stainless steel. 304 for shorter tubes and 439 for longer tubes. Carbon steel is not recommended because in the long run (a period of say 20 years) carbon steel tubes work out more expensive (Watkins and Bartholemew, Development of Low Cost Carbon Steel Tube for Sugar Mill Evaporators in South Africa, SASTA 1998, pg 72)

Carbon Steel

If it is decided that carbon steel tubes are to be used the recommended specification is BS3605 Gr 320

304 Stainless

This grade of stainless steel can be used where the tube length is less than three metres. The coefficient of thermal expansion for 304 is 1.8×10-2 mm/m/°C which is substantial more than that of carbon steel. When the vessel is hot the thermal stresses in the tubes will be high. Tubes of 304 stainless steel should always be annealed after welding.

439 Stainless Steel

ASTM TP439 is a titanium stabilised ferritic grade of stainless steel (17-19% Cr) which is recommended for long evaporator or pan tubes (in excess of 5m long)

Advantages of grade 439

Stress corrosion cracking

This type of corrosion occurs when

In an evaporator, pan or juice heater under the above conditions the result will be cracks leading to breakage in the area near the tube plate.

The danger of stress corrosion cracking exists in virtually all evaporators. The risk will be higher if tubes over 7 metres in length (some designs of continuous pans, falling-film evaporators and Kestner evaporators). Ferritic stainless steels are immune to stress corrosion cracking

Heat transfer

Thermal conductivity of ferritic stainless material is 40% higher than that of austenitic grades (like 304, 304L, 316 or 316L) i.e.: 26 vs 15 watt/metre/°C.

Recommended Wall Thickness

For evaporators and heaters, with tube length less than five metres a wall thickness of 1.2 mm is acceptable, for tubes longer than five metres a wall-thickness of 1.50 mm is quite sufficient (even on longer lengths up to 11 m) Tubes with 2.0 mm would be harder to swage into the holes and would require a 600°C pre-heating of tube ends.

Wall-thickness 1.6 or 1.75 mm are recommended for those tubes located near steam-entrance and subject to some vibration during the process.

For vacuum pans with 100 mm diameter tubes the recommended wall thickness is 1.5 or 1.6mm.

Allow 0.6 mm clearance between tube and plate.