Heat exchangers are described in a number of ways, according to their geometry and their application. Fig. 3.1a-f illustrates the classifications that will be used in this module, however this is not exclusive. Other designations are used in particular industries and standards are relevant to some applications. One important distinction that is not included in Figure 3.1 is that between fired and unfired heat exchangers. In this module we shall focus mainly on unfired heat exchangers although much of the analysis is applicable to fired units, except in the region of the combustion chamber.
Heat may be transferred between two fluids by direct contact, in which case the fluids are permitted to mix. Examples of this arrangement include open cooling towers, many driers and direct contact feed heaters. In this module we shall be dealing
principally with indirect contact heat exchangers in which the two fluid streams are separated by an impermeable wall through which heat is transferred. An alternative arrangement of indirect heat exchanger incorporates a solid storage element which is alternately heated and cooled by the hot and cold process streams, respectively.
Heat exchangers with a high ratio of heat transfer area to volume (and, by implication, small flow passages) are known as compact heat exchangers (CHEs). An arbitrary, but generally accepted boundary between compact and non-compact classifications is of the order of 300m2/m3, although some authors suggest values of 200m2/m3 or 700m2/m3 are more appropriate figures. The spectrum of area densities found in heat exchangers is found in figure 3.2 An area density of 300m2/m3 corresponds to a flow passage hydraulic diameter of 10mm.
The majority of heat exchangers have two fluid streams - the hot and the cold stream. Electric heaters and heat sinks involve heat transfer from a solid to one fluid. In the process industries it is common for heat transfer to take place between a number of fluid streams within a single unit.
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