The Different Types of Heat Exchanger

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Author: Heather Fin

The heat exchanger is an important component in every large industry. It is through this technology that most of the industrial processes are successfully carried out. The basic principle of its use is to transfer heat, whether in liquid or gas form, through a series of conductive channels. Some of the machines that utilize an exchanger in their systems are the air conditioning units, chillers and steam condensers.

There are at least four commonly used heat exchangers today. Each of these heat transfer devices are especially engineered to serve specific purposes. Listed below are some of the useful facts about them.

a. Shell-and-Tube Heat Exchangers – These are exchangers that have bundles of tubes contained in ‘shells’ or pressure vessels. Like in osmosis, the fluid or gas that has to be treated will flow through a series of tubes. Depending on the temperature of the input, the result would be the exact opposite. For example, if the liquid on the first series of tubes is hot, the second group of tubes will help initiate the process of temperature change in order to produce cooler fluid. Perhaps the only drawback of these exchangers is the complexity of their design. Some considerations are being measured just to ensure its efficiency in large-scale processes. Aside from the built, the amount of workload and the maintenance costs are also taken into account by most industrial engineers.

b. Plate Heat Exchangers – These are units that use thin sheets of aluminum instead of tubes. Although they basically function in the same manner as the aforementioned, these exchangers are rather more efficient in the process of heat transfer. Its structure is composed of ‘plates’ that are grouped as a stack in a frame, having gaps several inches wide so that they do not touch each other. They are usually held together by gaskets, which are detachable in order to be able to access the plates effortlessly for cleaning and tune-ups. The main advantage of plate exchangers from the traditional shell-and-tubes is the large amount of surface area provided to allow the fast transfer of heat. However, it is this same mechanism that these exchangers have that can be of a disadvantage to them. Due to the rapid expansion of fluids over the plates, leakages are likely to happen during the exchange process. They are also susceptible to fouling or contamination because of the narrow space between the plates in which the liquid flows. Overall, the plate exchangers are by far the most practical devices given their compactness and low maintenance costs.

c. Regenerative Heat Exchangers – As the term might suggest, these exchangers promote energy conservation. They have this design that allows a cycle of heat transfer. The exchange takes place on both sides of the machineries. The exiting fluid is used again as an input, and the whole process of heat exchange continues as a cycle. This type of heat exchangers can be adopted by using either the tube bundles or plate exchangers.

d. Adiabatic Wheel Heat Exchangers – The term ‘adiabatic’ pertains to the thermodynamic process that happens without any loss or gain in heat. As a heat exchanger, the adiabatic wheel acts as a mechanism for storing the heat before it is eventually released.

Heat Exchangers Specialist (S) Pte. Ltd. (HES) was setup by a group of experienced heat exchangers technical specialist and designer to provide engineering design & fabrication of heat exchangers, heat transfer equipment, pressure vessel as well as process piping and process skid system packages.

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heat exchanger fabrication , Pressure Vessel , Heat Exchanger , shell and tube heat exchanger