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Chapter 23


Main topics this chapter:
Types of Systems
Heat Transfer Economics

The function of a cooling system is to remove heat from processes or equipment. Heat removed
from one medium is transferred to another medium, or process fluid. Most often, the cooling
medium is water. However, the heat transfer concepts and calculations discussed in this chapter
can also be applied to other fluids.

Efficient removal of heat is an economic requirement in the design and operation of a cooling
system. The driving force for the transfer of heat is the difference in temperature between the
two media. In most cooling systems, this is in the range of 10-200°F. The heat flux is generally
low and in the range of 5,000 to 15,000 Btu/ft²/hr. For exceptional cases such as the indirect
cooling of molten metal, the heat flux can be as high as 3,000,000 Btu/ft²/hr.

The transfer of heat from process fluids or equipment results in a rise in temperature, or even a
change of state, in the cooling water. Many of the properties of water, along with the behavior of
the contaminants it contains, are affected by temperature. The tendency of a system to corrode,
scale, or support microbiological growth is also affected by water temperature. These effects, and
the control of conditions that foster them, are addressed in subsequent chapters.


Water heated in the heat exchange process can be handled in one of two ways. The water can be
discharged at the increased temperature into a receiving body (once-through cooling system), or
it can be cooled and reused (recirculating cooling system).

There are two distinct types of systems for water cooling and reuse: open and closed recirculating
systems. In an open recirculating system, cooling is achieved through evaporation of a fraction of
the water. Evaporation results in a loss of pure water from the system and a concentration of the
remaining dissolved solids. Water must be removed, or blown down, in order to control this
concentration, and fresh water must then be added to replenish the system.

A closed recirculating system is actually a cooling system within a cooling system. The water
containing the heat transferred from the process is cooled for reuse by means of an exchange
with another fluid. Water losses from this type of system are usually small.

Each of the three types of cooling systems-once-through, open recirculating, and closed
recirculating-is described in detail in later chapters. The specific approach to designing an
appropriate treatment program for each system is also contained in those chapters.


In the design of a heat transfer system,
the capital cost of building the system
must be weighed against the ongoing
cost of operation and maintenance.
Frequently, higher capital costs (more
exchange surface, exotic metallurgy,
more efficient tower fill, etc.) result in
lower operating and maintenance costs,
while lower capital costs may result in
higher operating costs (pump and fan
horsepower, required maintenance, etc.).
One important operating cost that must
be considered is the chemical treatment
required to prevent process or waterside
corrosion, deposits and scale, and
microbiological fouling. These problems
Figure 23-1. Fouling reduces exchanger's heat transfer
can adversely affect heat transfer and can efficiency
lead to equipment failure (see Figure 23-

Heat Transfer

The following is an overview of the complex considerations involved in the design of a heat
exchanger. Many texts are available to provide more detail.

In a heat transfer system, heat is exchanged as two fluids of unequal temperature approach
equilibrium. A higher temperature differential results in a more rapid heat transfer.

However, temperature is only one of many factors involved in exchanger design for a dynamic
system. Other considerations include the area over which heat transfer occurs, the characteristics
of the fluids involved, fluid velocities, and the characteristics of the exchanger metallurgy.

Process heat duty, process temperatures, and available cooling water supply temperature are
usually specified in the initial stages of design. The size of the exchanger(s) is calculated
according to important parameters such as process and water flow velocity, type of shell, layout
of tubes, baffles, metallurgy, and fouling tendency of the fluids.

Factors in the design of a heat exchanger are related by the heat transfer equation:

Q = UA ∆Tm


Q = rate of heat transfer (Btu/hr)

U = heat transfer coefficient (Btu/hr/ft²/°F)

A = heat transfer surface area (ft²)

∆Tm = log mean temperature difference

between fluids (°F)

The rate of heat transfer, Q, is determined from the equation:

Q = WC ∆T + W∆H


W = flow rate of fluid (lb/hr)

C = specific heat of fluid (Btu/lb/°F)

∆T = temperature change of the fluid (°F)

∆H = latent heat of vaporization (Btu/lb)

If the fluid does not change state, the

equation becomes Q = WC DT.

The heat transfer coefficient, U, represents

the thermal conductance of the heat
exchanger. The higher the value of U, the
more easily heat is transferred from one
fluid to the other. Thermal conductance is
the reciprocal of resistance, R, to heat

The total resistance to heat flow is the

sum of several individual resistances. This Figure 23-2. The total resistance to heat flow is the sum of
is shown in Figure 23-2 and several individual resistances.
mathematically expressed below.

Rt = r1 + r2 + r3 + r4 + r5


Rt = total heat flow resistance

r1 = heat flow resistance of the process-side film
r2 = heat flow resistance of the process-side fouling (if any)
r3 = heat flow resistance of the exchanger tube wall
r4 = heat flow resistance of the water-side fouling (if any)
r5 = heat flow resistance of the water-side film
The heat flow resistance of the process-side
film and the cooling water film depends on
equipment geometry, flow velocity,
viscosity, specific heat, and thermal
conductivity. The effect of velocity on heat
transfer for water in a tube is shown in
Figure 23-3.

Heat flow resistance due to fouling varies

tremendously depending on the
characteristics of the fouling layer, the fluid,
and the contaminants in the fluid that
created the fouling layer. A minor amount of
fouling is generally accommodated in the
exchanger design. However, if fouling is not
kept to a minimum, the resistance to heat
transfer will increase, and the U coefficient
will decrease to the point at which the
exchanger cannot adequately control the
process temperatures. Even if this point is
not reached, the transfer process is less
efficient and potentially wasteful.

The resistance of the tube to heat transfer

depends on the material of construction
only and does not change with time. Tube
walls thinned by erosion or corrosion may
have less resistance, but this is not a Figure 23-3. Water velocity vs. heat transfer
significant change.

The log mean temperature difference (DTm ) is a mathematical expression addressing the
temperature differential between the two fluids at each point along the heat exchanger. For true
countercurrent or cocurrent flow:

When there is no change in state of the fluids, a countercurrent flow exchanger is more efficient
for heat transfer than a cocurrent flow exchanger. Therefore, most coolers operate with a
countercurrent or a variation of countercurrent flow. Calculated ∆Tm formulas may be corrected
for exchanger configurations that are not truly countercurrent.


Heat transfer equations are useful in monitoring the condition of heat transfer equipment or the
efficacy of the treatment programs. The resistance of the tube is constant; system geometry does
not change. If flow velocities are held constant on both the process side and the cooling water
side, film resistance will also be held constant. Variations in measured values of the U coefficient
can be used to estimate the amount of fouling taking place. If the U coefficient does not change,
there is no fouling taking place on the limiting side. As the exchanger fouls, the U coefficient
decreases. Therefore, a comparison of U values during operation can provide useful information
about the need for cleaning and can be utilized to monitor the effectiveness of treatment
The use of a cleanliness factor or a fouling factor can also be helpful in comparing the condition of
the heat exchanger, during service, to design conditions. The cleanliness factor (Cf) is a
percentage obtained as follows:

The resistance due to fouling, or fouling factor (Rf), is a relationship between the initial overall
heat transfer coefficient (Ui) and the overall heat transfer coefficient during service (Uf) expressed
as follows:

Heat exchangers are commonly designed for fouling factors of 0.001 to 0.002, depending on the
expected conditions of the process fluid and the cooling water.