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Step by Step procedure to do shortcut sizing for Air Cooled Heat Exchanger and estimate finned

area and power required.

An air-cooled exchanger is used to cool fluids with ambient air. A 1 inch OD tube is the most popular
diameter and the most common fins are 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch high. Tube configuration used in this
guideline : 1 inch OD tube, 5/8 inch fin height, 10 fins per inch and 2.5 inch triangular pitch.
APSF - External area in ft/ft of bundle face area.



Face Velocity, ft/min









APF - Total external area/ ft of fintube in ft/ft ~ 5.58.

Face Velocity - Typical air face velocities (V
result in optimum cost of exchanger.


used in design are tabulated above, these value

Step 1

Obtain Process Parameters

Obtain process duty (Q), hot process side inlet (T1) and outlet (T2) temperature. Select an overall heat
transfer coefficient (U) from literature based on type of fluids. Select an air inlet temperature (t1) that is
not exceeded during a certain percentage of time over the year (e.g. 95% of the time).
Step 2

Calculate Air Density

Density at air inlet temperature and site elevation
o = 14.696*29 /(10.7316 * (t1 + 459.67))
Air / o = exp(-29 * z/ (1545 * (t1 + 459.67)))

t1: Air Inlet Temperature, F.
z: Elevation above sea level, feet
Step 3

Calculate MTD
Assume an Air outlet temperature (t2) and calculate LMTD.
LMTD = ((T1-t2) -(T2-t1))/ ln((T1-t2)/(T2-t1))
R = (T1 - T2)/(t2 - t1)
S = (t2 - t1)/(T1 - t1)
LMTD Correction factor (F) is estimated based on following graphs
Cross Flow Single Pass

Cross Flow Two Pass

Step 4

Calculate Air Flowrate

Finned area is estimated using following equation :
AFinned = Q / (U * F * LMTD)
Bundle Face area is estimated using following equation :
AFace = AFinned / APSF

Air Flow is estimated using following relation :

VAir = AFace * VFace
Air Mass flowrate is estimated :
MAir = VAir * Air
Air temperature rise is calculated :
T = Q / (MAir * CpAir )

Revised air outlet temperature is calculated :

t2 = t1 + T
This temperature is again used in Step 3 to re-estimate air outlet temperature. Above steps are
iterated till there is no change in air outlet temperature.
Step 5

Air Cooler Dimension

Air cooler width is calculated :
W = AFace / LTube
Number of Tubes are calculated :
NTube = AFinned / (APF * LTube)
Number of Tubes per Row are calculated :
Nr Tube = NTube / No of Rows
LTube : Length of Tube.
Step 6

Air Side Pressure Drop

Air Side pressure drop is calculated as following :
P Total = PStatic + PVelocity
Static Pressure Drop
Pressure drop across tube bundle.
P Static = FP * No of Rows / DR
FP = 6*10-8 * ( GFace )1.825
DR : Air / Air at seal level and 70F
GFace : Air face mass velocity in lb/h.ft face area
PStatic : Static pressure drop in inch of H2O
Velocity Pressure Drop
Typically 2 fans are used in air cooler. Fan area per fan (FAPF) is calculated as following :

FAPF = 0.4 * AFace / No. of Fans

Fan Diameter is calculated :
D = (4 * FAPF / )0.5
PVelocity = (ACFM / (4005 * (* D2/4)) )2* DR
ACFM : Air flowrate in Actual Cubic Feet per Minute
PVelocity : Velocity pressure drop in inch of H2O
Step 7

Power Calculation
Break power for fan is calculated as following :
BHP = P Total * ACFM / 6356 / Fan
Motor power is calculated as following :
Power = BHP / Motor

1. Process Heat Transfer: Principles and Applications
2. Handbook of Chemical Engineering Calculations (McGraw-Hill Handbooks)
3. Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers: A Manual of Quick, Accurate Solutions to Everyday
Process Engineering Problems
4. GPSA, Engineering Databook, 12th Edition FPS