More efficient process heat recovery reduces energy consumption and can bring significant cost savings. Plate heat exchangers are widely used in low- to medium-pressure heat transfer applications. From cooling and heating to condensing and evaporation of process fluids, applications include crude oil stabilization, utility cooling, heat recovery and acid cooling. Lightweight and highly efficient heat transfer surfaces combined with robust, compact designs deliver reliable performance and maximum heat efficiency. Plate-type heat exchangers are available in various configurations, including gasketed, semi-welded and welded-plate options. They range from high capacity, heavy-duty units to small, compact designs that can handle products such as highly corrosive chemicals as well as foods and beverages that require ensured standards of sanitary processing.
Compared with traditional shell-and-tube technology, plate heat exchangers can offer reduced fouling for longer run times and lower service and maintenance. Modern designs ease inspection and maintenance access. The exchangers can be cleaned using clean-in-place (CIP) or mechanical cleaning processes. The latest plate designs and materials provide high thermal efficiency while requiring a minimum footprint where space and weight are essential parameters. For example, as recently as 20 years ago, heat transfer plates were produced in 0.024 to 0.031” (0.6 to 0.8 mm) thicknesses for a typical 150 psig design pressure. Modern plates usually are between 0.016 to 0.020” (0.4 and 0.5 mm) in designs that improve thermal performance and reduce capital costs without compromising design pressure. Overall, the advancements in this technology mean lower costs, less extensive load-bearing foundations, easier installation and lower overall capital expenditure.
Industrial Plate Heat Exchangers Offer Options
Gasketed plate heat exchangers can offer high thermal efficiency with the flexibility to reconfigure solutions to meet changing needs. They cover applications with flows from small to large. Plates designed for efficient flow distribution and optimum turbulence maximize heat transfer efficiency. Features that ease gasket mounting and help ensure a stable, well-aligned plate pack are built in, helping to ensure that service downtime is minimized and production is maximized.
In higher temperature and higher pressure applications, hybrid welded plate heat exchangers are used in processes such as crude stabilization, gas dehydration and gas sweetening in oil and gas applications, solution cooling and heating, process condensing and cryogenic chilling within the chemical industry and steam condensing and district heating for the power industry. The high thermal efficiency available from this technology reduces external energy input demand. Flexible design options are also available to produce low pressure drops. Optimized plate corrugation patterns reduce the risk of fouling and increase heat recovery, respectively, depending upon the duty conditions and priorities. Such hybrid units may be mechanically cleanable on the tube side and easily CIP-able on the plate side, making them a truly cleanable solution.
Semi-welded plate heat exchangers are designed with welded channels to allow handling of aggressive fluids. They are available with either conventional or special gaskets to match specific duty requirements. Gasket solutions used with this type of unit can provide a plate-and-gasket combination specifically designed to handle high concentrations of corrosive fluids such as sour gas. The units resolve conventional gasket lifetime issues when handling fluids including refrigerants such as ammonia and Freon, aggressive chemicals, lean/rich amine and other difficult general processes in medium- to high-temperature duties.
Whatever the application, heat transfer solutions should be specifically designed for the fluid and service required to operate safely. Modern plate heat exchanger solutions offer economy by increasing performance through better thermal efficiency, improving run times by reducing fouling and lowering maintenance costs with easier inspection and access for cleaning.
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