Heat exchangers enable the heat from a fluid (liquid or gas) to make its way through a second fluid without the two needing to come in contact with one another. For instance, a furnace burns natural gas carried over water by pipes. If the gas and water came into direct contact, the heat exchange would cease and the water would not warm up.
Although all heat exchangers perform the same function, there are a few different types that suit a wide range of applications. The four main types of heat exchangers include double tube, shell and tube, tube in tube, and plate heat exchangers. In order to familiarize yourself with each heat exchanger and their unique features, this blog will outline each in detail.
Double Tube Heat Exchanger
Double tube heat exchangers consist of a “tube within a tube” structure. Essentially, there are two pipes, where one is built inside the other. As one fluid flows through the inner pipe, the other fluid moves around the first fluid in the outer pipe. Furthermore, they are recognized as being the most basic and affordable heat exchangers, as well as being compact in size, allowing for added flexibility in the layout of the manufacturing process.
Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger
Shell and tube heat exchangers serve as the most versatile of all the different types. They are designed with a number of tubes that are positioned within a cylindrical shell, which allows for a myriad of pressure and temperature ranges. If you need to cool or heat a large quantity of fluids or gasses, shell and tube heat exchangers are a good option. Moreover, they are smaller than their counterparts, making it easy to clean and carry out repairs.
Tube in Tube Heat Exchanger
Like other types of heat exchangers, tube in tube heat exchangers are composed of two tubes, one for each fluid. The major difference is that the tubes are coiled together to produce an outside and inside pattern. Because the tubes are coiled together, most designs are compact. Generally, tube in tube heat exchangers are ideal for high temperature and high pressure applications. As they run at a higher output, tube in tube heat exchangers tend to have greater efficiency.
Plate Heat Exchanger
While all the different types of heat exchangers are fairly similar in design, plate heat exchangers are the only exception. In this design, metal plates are utilized to transfer heat between two fluids. The plate is a metal shell, with spaces inside each plate that serve as passageways for fluids to make their way through. With plate heat exchangers, there is a greater surface area in contact with the fluids; thus, it has better rates of heat transfer than its counterparts. Even though they are more costly, the efficiency they offer outweighs the prices. Due to their high price points, they are usually only used in power plants.
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