What are Heat Exchangers and Their Most Common Types
When a system requires efficient cooling for its optimal performance and protection, there are various solutions that may be used. For many assemblies, the heat exchanger is a perfect option, coming in the form of a device which transfers heat between mediums with high speed and efficiency. The way in which heat exchangers work is through the basic flow of heat and thermodynamics, allowing heat to move from a hot medium to a cooler one without the need for any physical contact or intermixing for the process to be done. Heat exchangers can be found in various applications, often being placed within refrigeration equipment, aircraft air systems, radiators, chemical processing assemblies, and much more. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of the most common heat exchanger types, allowing you to have a better understanding of your options and how they function.
Serving as the most common option for a wide variety of industries and applications, shell and tube heat exchanger equipment can be used for a majority of fluid and gas types. While coming in a few subtypes, all will contain tubes running across the length of the component or bent to create a U-shape. The tubes are often welded to the shell, enabling fluids to traverse the piece with ease while also allowing for an ease of maintenance. For mediums to enter and exit the assembly, an inlet nozzle and outlet nozzles are present, and a bypass valve controls the output fluid medium. With the hot medium flowing through the tube and a cooler medium surrounding it in the shell, heat is efficiently transferred from the tube fluids with ease.
Plate Type Heat Exchanger
Rather than using an assembly of shells and tubes, plate type heat exchangers take advantage of thin, identical metal plates as the heat transfer medium. These plates are constructed from titanium or stainless steel, and they are bound with gaskets while ensuring a clearance between them. Generally, the main six elements of a plate type heat exchanger are the pressure plate, frame plate, caring bar, guide bar, plate pack, and support post. Despite their compact construction, they promote a variable capacity that is beneficial for operations. As compared to other types, plate type heat exchangers are easy to clean and are simplistic in design. Functioning on the principle of thermal conductivity, warm and cold mediums are sent through different channels on opposite sides of the plate, the gasket ensuring that intermixing or flow in the clearance is avoided. With the clearance being fine, a thin layer of fluids will form on the sides of the metal plate so that heat can transfer from the hot medium to the cooler medium with high efficiency.
Regenerative Heat Exchanger
Regenerative heat exchangers are the final major type, and they may come in either rotary or fixed matrix variations. With such equipment, heat is indirectly transferred between mediums through a heat storage medium, ensuring that hot and cold fluids can be present in the same area. Generally, regenerative heat exchangers are only utilized when the mediums are heterogeneous or if there are dissolved impurities. With their capabilities, regenerative heat exchangers find use in applications such as a ballast furnace.
Simplistic in design and providing a high surface area for heat transfer, regenerative heat exchangers are a beneficial option with their low cost and maintenance as well. Despite this, they can be more difficult to use if specific efficiencies are required. As such, they are not utilized for various modern industries.
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