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Common types of heat exchanger

A heat exchanger is a device that exchanges heat from one fluid to another. It is a broader category than radiator, as a heat exchanger may involve cooling a piece of equipment or heating it up. There are many different applications for industrial heat exchangers and a variety of different designs. Some types prioritize cooling or heating efficiency, while others are built to fit within a certain physical space. Some industries utilize multiple types of heat exchanger within a larger system. Here are a few common heat exchanger types to know and what makes them unique.

Finned tube air cooled heat exchanger
A finned tube / air cooled heat exchanger

Shell and tube heat exchangers

Shell and tube is a type of heat exchanger that funnels fluid or gas through a bundle of tubes encased in a metal shell. Fluid of the opposite temperature is pumped through the shell but outside the tubes, which allows the transfer of heat between the two fluids to occur. Common repairs needed for shell and tube heat exchangers include fixing leaking tubes or tube joints, replacing faulty tubes with re-tubing, and tube-to-tube sheet repairs.

Plate heat exchangers

A plate heat exchanger (PHE) can reduce temperatures more quickly than most other types of heat exchanger because of the surface area of its plates. A PHE is typically constructed with a combination of a fixed frame plate, corrugated internal plates, and loose pressure plate. As fluid is channeled through the system by an arrangement of gaskets, heat is transferred to the metal plates. Because the plates are essential to how a PHE works, it is important to keep them well maintained. Common types of PHE service include cleaning or replacing the internal plates and re-gasketing.

Finned tube or air cooled heat exchangers

This type of heat exchanger is similar to a tube and shell design, but with gas or air being pumped around the tubes. Heat is transferred from the fluid in the tubes to the surrounding air/gas. An air cooled heat exchanger (ACHE) is an efficient design due to the use of fins that extend from the tubes, increasing surface area and thereby improving heat transfer. ACHEs are commonly found inside enclosed duct work.

Double tube heat exchangers

Some heat exchangers have a tube within a tube. This double tube construction is handy for small spaces where a larger heat exchanger would not be able to fit. The double tube design works by pumping fluid through an inner tube while other fluid flows around it, encased by a second outer tube. Sometimes two tubes can be coiled around one another in a unique tube-in-tube design. This type of heat exchanger is relatively inexpensive and flexible, making it a popular choice for many applications.

Regardless of what type of heat exchanger you have in your industrial equipment, it is important that you have a reliable source of maintenance and repair expertise. Industrial Radiator Service provides routine maintenance and repair services for a wide variety of heat exchangers, including shell and tube and plate heat exchangers. Contact us today to learn more.

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