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Enhancing Heat Exchange Performance

Enhancing Heat Exchange Performance

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Published by aagesh

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Published by: aagesh on Sep 27, 2009
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03/02/2011

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Increasing Heat Exchanger Performance
A plan for increasing heat exchanger performance for shell andtube exchangers should consider the following steps:1) Determine that the exchanger is operating correctly asdesigned. Correcting flaws in construction and piping that mayhave a detrimental effect on heat transfer and pressure drop maybe the solution.2) Estimate how much pressure drop is available. For single phaseheat transfer coefficients, higher fluid velocity increases heattransfer coefficients and pressure drop.3) Estimate fouling factors that are not overstated. Excessivefouling factors at the design state result in oversized exchangerswith low velocities. These low velocities may exacerbate thefouling problem. More liberal fouling factors and periodic cleaningmay increase the heat exchanger’s performance.4) Consider using a basic shell-and-tube exchanger withenhancement or intensification such as finning, tube inserts,modified tubes, or modified baffles.
Enhanced surfaces
Since there are so many different types of heat exchangeenhancements, it is highly unlikely that a commercial simulator could support them all. Furthermore, some propriety data from themanufacturers of the heat transfer enhancement might never bereleased. However, that does not mean that process and projectengineers can not perform some of the preliminary calculations for new technologies.Heat exchanger enhancement must always satisfy the primarygoal of providing a cost advantage relative to the use of aconventional heat exchanger. Other factors that should beaddressed include fouling potential, reliability and safety. Heatexchanger enhancement can be divided into both passive andactive methods. Passive methods include extended surfaces,inserts, coiled or twisted tubes, surface treatments, and additives.Active techniques include surface vibration, electrostatic fields,injection, and suction. The majority of the current discussion isrelated to the passive methods involving mechanical modificationsto the tubes and baffles. Figure shows several different schematics
 
of enhancements to heat exchanger tubes including finning,inserts, and twisting
.
Finning
Tubes can be finned on both the interior and exterior. This isprobably the oldest form of heat transfer enhancement. Finning isusually desirable when the fluid has a relatively low heat transfer film coefficient as does a gas. The fin not only increases the filmcoefficient with added turbulence but also increases the heattransfer surface area. This added performance results in higher pressure drop. However, as with any additional surface area, thefin area must be adjusted by an efficiency. This fin efficiency leadsto an optimum fin height with respect to heat transfer. Most of theheat transfer and film coefficients for finned tubes are available inthe open literature and supported in most commercial heatexchanger rating packages. Recent papers also describepredicting finned tube performance10. Data for the performance of low finned tubes as compared to generalized correlationsare also available in the literature11.
Tube Inserts
Inserts, turbulators, or static mixers are inserted into the tube topromote turbulence. These devices are most effective with highviscosity fluids in a laminar flow regime9,12-15. Increases in theheat transfer film coefficients can be as high as five times. Insertsare used most often with liquid heat transfer and to promoteboiling. Inserts are not usually effective for condensing in the tubeand almost always increase pressure drop. Because of thecomplex relationships between the geometry of the insert and the
 
resulting increase in heat transfer and pressure drop, there are nogeneral correlations to predict enhancements. However, throughthe modification of the number of passes, a resulting heat transfer coefficient gain can be achieved at lower pressure drop in somesituations.
Tube Deformation
Many vendors have developed proprietary surface configures bydeforming the tubes. The resulting deformation appearscorrugated, twisted, or spirally fluted. The surface condensessteam on the outside and heats water on the inside. The author reports a 400 % increase in the inside heat transfer film coefficient;however, pressure drops were 20 times higher relative to theunaltered tube at the same maximum inside diameter.Some of the benefits of a new twisted tube technology include thefact that tube vibration can be minimized.
Baffles
Baffles are designed to direct the shell side fluid across the tubebundle as efficiently as possible. Forcing the fluid across the tubebundle ultimately results in a pressure loss. The most commontype of baffle is the single segmental baffle which changes thedirection of the shell side fluid to achieve cross flow. Deficienciesof the segmented baffle include the potential for dead spots in theexchanger and excessive tube vibration. Baffle enhancementshave attempted to alleviate the problems associated with leakageand dead areas in the conventional segmental baffles. The mostnotable improvement has resulted in a helical baffle as shown in

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