Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

Jan 10, 2014

Because they handle fluids of different kinds and temperatures, oil refineries and chemical-processing plants utilise a variety of these exchangers daily. There are specific compressors, purifiers, separators, and vessels for each liquid and gas being processed. Despite how complex or simple each piece of equipment is, all the companies must not only know how to use them all well but also use those of the highest quality. A catastrophic failure could occur otherwise. Fledgling owners might find gaining knowledge of all the equipment overwhelming at first. As if running a company alone wasn’t incredibly difficult already, they should be updated on the ever-increasing numbers and varieties of commercially available oil refining and chemical-processing equipment. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it would be best for them to start with shell and tube heat exchangers.

What are shell and tube heat exchangers anyway?

A shell and tube heat exchanger is basically a heat exchanger design class. A heat exchanger is a piece of equipment for transferring heat efficiently from one medium to another medium. In other words, heat exchangers are used for cooling. Apart from refining oil and processing chemicals, heat exchangers are used for air conditioning, refrigeration, sewage treatment, and space heating. Shell and tube heat exchangers are the heat exchanger type most commonly used at oil refineries and chemical-processing plants.

Shell and tube heat exchanger design

Most shell and tube heat exchangers are usually composed of immense pressure vessels, which are also called shells, with bundles of tubes inside them. A tube bundle may consist of various tubes, including finned, longitudinally, and plain. There are various shell and tube designs. Usually the ends of each tube are connected to plenums, which are sometimes called ‘water boxes’, through holes in tube sheets, which are the plates that secure the ends of the tubes. The tubes may be straight or bent in the shape of the letter U. U-shaped tubes are called U-tubes.

Shell and tube heat exchangers’ applications and uses

Heat gets transferred between two certain fluids as one flows through the tubes while the other flows over the tubes, through the shell. Due to its simple design, shell and tube heat exchangers are considered an ideal cooling solution for a wide variety of applications. One of the most common applications is cooling hydraulic fluid and oil in engines, transmissions, and hydraulic power packs. By choosing the right materials, shell and tube heat exchangers can also be used for charging air and for cooling or heating fluids such as swimming pool water.

Selection of Materials for Producing Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

The right materials for producing shell and tube heat exchangers must be selected in order to avoid terrible accidents. For example: If the hydraulic fluid and oil in an engine aren’t cooled properly, the car might break down and the passengers could have an accident. The materials should have good thermal conductivity. The shell and tube exchangers wouldn’t be able to transfer heat well otherwise. Because heat gets transferred from a hot side to a cold side through the tubes, there is a temperature difference through their widths. Because of the tendency of the materials to expand differently at various temperatures, thermal stresses occur during an operation. Stress caused by the high pressures exerted by the fluids themselves occurs during operation as well, so the materials should also be compatible with both the shell and the tubes. Corrosion could occur otherwise. All these requirements call for selection of high quality materials which are sturdy, thermally-conductive, and corrosion-resistant, like nonferrous copper alloy, stainless steel, carbon steel, copper alloy, nickel, and titanium. Choosing materials for producing shell and tube heat exchangers poorly could cause a leak through a tube that could cause a fluid cross-contamination and possibly, loss of pressure—or worse.

Contact Details

Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619

1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915

Ph: (03) 5909 8218

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