Condensate Extraction

Condensate extraction refers to the process of removing condensate, which is the liquid formed when steam or vapor cools and condenses, from a system. This is a critical operation in power plants, particularly in steam power plants, as well as in other industrial processes where steam is used. The extracted condensate can be recycled back into the system or discharged. Here’s a detailed look at condensate extraction:

Importance of Condensate Extraction

  1. Efficiency: Removing condensate from steam systems improves the efficiency of heat transfer processes.
  2. Prevention of Water Hammer: Prevents water hammer, which is a potentially damaging condition caused by condensate buildup and subsequent pressure surges.
  3. Equipment Protection: Reduces the risk of corrosion and damage to equipment caused by condensate.
  4. Water Reuse: Allows for the recovery and reuse of water, reducing water consumption and treatment costs.

Condensate Extraction in Power Plants

In steam power plants, condensate extraction is an integral part of the Rankine cycle. The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Condensation of Steam: After steam has passed through the turbine, it enters a condenser where it is cooled and condensed into water (condensate).
  2. Condensate Extraction Pump (CEP): The condensed water is collected in the condenser hotwell and then pumped out by condensate extraction pumps. These pumps are crucial for maintaining the flow of condensate to the next stage in the cycle.
  3. Deaeration: The condensate is often sent to a deaerator to remove dissolved gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can cause corrosion.
  4. Feedwater Heaters: The deaerated condensate is then preheated in feedwater heaters before being sent back to the boiler to be converted into steam again.

Types of Condensate Extraction Pumps

  1. Centrifugal Pumps: These are the most common type of pumps used for condensate extraction due to their efficiency and ability to handle large volumes of water.
  2. Vertical Multistage Pumps: Often used in situations where high pressure is required. These pumps are space-efficient and can handle high heads.
  3. Horizontal Pumps: These are used where space constraints are not an issue and where the system design allows for easy installation and maintenance.

Applications of Condensate Extraction

  1. Power Plants: As described, for the efficient operation of steam cycles in thermal power plants.
  2. Industrial Steam Systems: In manufacturing plants, refineries, and chemical plants where steam is used for heating or process operations.
  3. Heating Systems: In HVAC systems, particularly in large buildings or district heating systems, where steam is used for heating and needs to be condensed and recycled.

Key Considerations

  1. Pump Selection: The choice of condensate extraction pump depends on factors such as the volume of condensate, the pressure required, and the specific conditions of the system.
  2. Maintenance: Regular maintenance of condensate extraction pumps and associated equipment is crucial to ensure reliability and efficiency.
  3. System Integration: The condensate extraction system must be well-integrated with the overall steam and water cycle of the plant or facility to ensure optimal performance.
  4. Control Systems: Advanced control systems can help in monitoring and optimizing the performance of condensate extraction systems, ensuring consistent operation and preventing issues such as cavitation or pump failure.


Condensate extraction is a vital process in steam power plants and other industrial systems that use steam. By efficiently removing and recycling condensate, it helps in maintaining system efficiency, preventing damage to equipment, and conserving water. The choice of condensate extraction pumps and the design of the extraction system play crucial roles in the overall performance and reliability of the steam system.

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