You are on page 1of 24

ME 421

Heat Exchanger Design

Lecture Notes 8 (Chapter 10) Part 1

Gasketed-Plate Heat Exchangers
• Initially developed for the food industry: easy to clean.
• Now, alternative to shell-and-tube HEX for low- to
medium-pressure applications and liquid-liquid heat
• Design is specialized and proprietary*.
• Manufacturers have computerized design procedures for
their HEX.
• Typical gasketed-plate HEX consists of plates with
gaskets and the frame, which includes a fixed plate, a
compression (pressure) plate, an upper carrier bar, a
guidance bar, a support column, and tightening bolts and
*Exclusively owned (by manufacturers)
Typical Gasketed-Plate HEX

Flow Pattern: Single-Pass Counterflow

Mechanical Features
Plate Pack and Frame
• Plates are pressed together – the holes at the corners
form continuous tunnels/manifolds, leading the fluid from
the inlet of the plate pack to the narrow channels between
• Plate pack tightened mechanically/hydraulically
• Two fluids flow in alternating channels, mostly in
• Heat transfer occurs along the thin plate wall
• There can be several hundred plates in a frame, held
together by bolts that hold the stack in compression
• Carrier and guidance bars are bolted to the fixed frame
and they support the plates
• Plate pack corresponds to the tube bundle in a shell-and-
tube HEX, but the two sides of the plate have identical
hydrodynamic characteristics unlike two sides of a tube
Gasketed-Plate HEX Assembly and Gasket

Mechanical Features
Plate Pack and Frame (continued)
• Plate: A sheet of metal precision-pressed into a corrugated
– Largest single plate: ~4.3 m high x 1.1 m wide
– Heat transfer area for a single plate: 0.01 – 3.60 m2
– To avoid poor distribution of fluid across the plate width, minimum
length/width ratio: ~1.8
– Plate thickness: 0.5 – 1.2 mm
– Plate spacing: 1.5 – 5.0 mm
– Hydraulic diameter: 4 – 10 mm
• Leakage prevented by gaskets
• Common plate materials are stainless steel, titanium; see
Table 10.1 for others and respective thermal conductivities
(wrong unit in table)
• Plate number and size determined by: flow rate, fluid 7
properties, pressure drop, and temperature requirements
Mechanical Features
Plate Types
• Various corrugation types are available
• Chevron type is most common
• Prediction methods rely on experimental data
• Chevron: flow channel provides swirling motion to the
– Chevron angle, , 25o – 65o range, is reversed on adjacent plates
so that corrugations provide numerous contact points when plates
are pressed together
– Chevron angle determines pressure drop and heat transfer
characteristics of the plate
– Plates can be very thin, ~0.5 mm

Plate Types and Chevron Angle

Chevron type
Typical Chevron Plates

Chevron Plate

Operational Characteristics
Gasketed-plate HEX
can be opened for
inspection, cleaning,
maintenance, or
rebuilding within the
length of the frame.

Operational Characteristics
Main Advantages
• Gasket design minimizes internal leakage risk. External
leakage is easily detected.
• Flexible design through a variety of plate sizes and pass
• HT area easily accessible → change configuration to suit
different process requirements by changing number of
• Efficient HT: High HT coefficients for both fluids due to
turbulence and small hydraulic diameter
• Compact (large HT area/volume ratio), low weight; ~1500
m2 surface area in one unit
• Heat losses are negligible, no insulation required
• If gaskets fail, intermixing of fluids cannot occur
• Low fouling due to high turbulence and low residence time
Operational Characteristics
Main Advantages (continued)
• More than two fluids in one unit possible, by using
connecting plates
• Transition to turbulence occurs at low Re, 10 – 400
• Due to thin walls, wall resistance minimized
• About 82% of the theoretical LMTD is utilized
• Similar cost with tubular HEX, if tubes are made of costly
material like stainless steel
• Lower costs for handling, transportation, and foundations,
as well as cleaning.

Operational Characteristics
Performance Limits
• Gaskets impose restrictions
– Operating temperatures (160oC – 250oC)
– Pressures (minimum 25 – 30 bar)
– Nature of fluids
• Friction factors are high but channel lengths are short and
flow velocities are low so pressure drops can be kept within
limits for single-phase flow applications
• Upper limit on the plate size due to available presses, thus
largest units ~1500 m2
• Maximum design pressure ~1 MPa
• Not suitable for air-to-air or gas-to-gas applications
• Not suitable for high viscosity fluids
• Velocities lower than 0.1 m/s not used
• Only specially-designed units for evaporation/condensation
Passes and Flow Arrangements
Pass: group of channels in which the flow is in the same
U: All four ports are on the fixed-head
plate, permits disassembly without
disturbing external piping. Flow
distribution less uniform than Z-

(single pass)

(single pass) 16
Passes and Flow Arrangements

2 x 3 / 2 x 3 configuration (two-pass configuration with 3

channels), counterflow except in the central plate (parallel flow)

2 x 4 / 2 x 4 configuration
(two-pass configuration
with 4 channels),
counterflow except in the
central plate (parallel
Passes and Flow Arrangements
2 x 4 / 1 x 8 configuration (two-pass / one-pass flow
system), one half of HEX in counterflow, the other half is in
parallel flow (asymmetrical system). Used when one fluid
has a much higher mass flow rate or smaller allowable
pressure drop.

Passes and Flow Arrangements
• Multipass arrangements require ports on both fixed and
movable head plates
• Usually symmetric conditions prevail (same number of
passes and number of channels per pass for both fluids)
• Maldistribution may be a problem, must be considered in

• Widely used in chemical, pharmaceutical, food, dairy
industries, hygiene products, biochemical processing; due
to ease of cleaning
• Also used as process heaters/coolers
• Mostly liquid-to-liquid turbulent flow
• Corrosion and fouling problems in large systems can be
transferred to plate HEX

Corrosion and Fouling
• Highly preferred to resist corrosion, but expensive materials
• Corrosion allowance is much smaller than that for tubular
• High turbulence may result in erosion problems
• Less fouling than tubular units
– High turbulence maintains solids in suspension
– Uniform velocity profiles and no low-velocity zones
– Plate surfaces are smooth
– Corrosion product deposits, to which fouling can adhere, are absent
– High heat transfer coefficients keep wall temperatures low, thus
crystallization is minimized
– Frequent cleaning can be easily scheduled
• Assuming a pressure drop of about 30 kPa per NTU, Table
10.4 lists recommended fouling factors
• In general, 5% excess NTU for low fouling duties, 10% for
moderate fouling, 15-20% for high fouling