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Glossary of Heat Exchanger Terminology


ASME stands for The American society of Mechanical Engineers. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is comprised of a set of manufacturing standards that are meant to define basic construction types and material thickness while providing safety, reasonable cost and serviceability. ASME Section VIII Div 1 Standards for unfired pressure vessels always govern shell and tube heat exchangers. Materials used in fabrication of these heat exchangers are in accordance with ASME Section II and all welding processes associated with fabrication are in accordance with ASME Section V. Typically these are plates with holes about the size of tube diameters. They provide structural integrity to tube bundle that is at times referred to as stack of tubes. The primary function of baffles is to provide turbulence and proper mixing of shell side fluids. Baffle spacing is the distance between baffles in a tube bundle. As it forces liquid to change direction from one end to the other, the baffle spacing has an effect on fluid velocity, pressure drop and heat transfer rate. This effect is more pronounced when there is liquid media on the shell side. An optimal design uses the available pressure drop in an application by spacing the baffles accordingly to maximize the effective heat transfer rate. A common term used in U-tube heat exchangers. The bundle contains tubes, tie rods, baffles and tubesheet/tubesheets. Also referred to as head or waterbox of the heat exchanger. They contain pass partitions that constrain fluid to flow through defined number of tubes. In straight through designs there are two channel boxes; one defined as front end and the other as return end. A common term used in straight through fixed tubesheet designs. The core assembly contains tubes, tie rods, baffles and tubesheets. The pressure used to determine the thickness of components and serves as criteria for determining the hydrotest pressure. These are also referred to as Triclamps that are used in Sanitary Heat Exchangers where threaded or flanged connections are unacceptable. A tubesheet that is permanently welded to the shell as in the case of nonremovable core assembly. A tubesheet that is not permanently welded to the shell as in the case of a BEP style design. A floating tubesheet design allows for thermal expansion and contraction of the tube bundle independent of the shell. Adjustable saddle supports with strap-around for horizontal heat exchangers. For vertical heat exchangers, mounting supports are welded to a bellyband that is in-turn welded to the exterior of the shell.


Baffle Spacing

Bundle Assembly

Channel Box

Core Assembly

Design Pressure


Fixed Tubesheet

Floating Tubesheet

Foot Supports

Impingement Plate

A plate that is welded inside a shell entrance port in a domed design or welded directly to the tube bundle. Impingement plates help reduce fluid velocity, provide better fluid distribution across the tube bundle and protect tubes from surface erosion. In U-tube heat exchangers it is common to have the shell side inlet off the end of the tube bundle rendering an impingement plate unnecessary. A metal ring on BEP style designs, which are generally installed over the outside of diameter of rear floating tubesheets to hold the seals in place. This carries the ASME U Stamp and valuable information such as design pressure, design temperature and mean design metal temperature. This serves as a sealing device between two components. O-rings are generally used between the tube sheet and channel box, between the tube sheet and shell flange in U-tube construction. O-ring materials are usually EPDM, Viton or in high pressure applications, spiral wound metal. The end of the tube bundle that contains the floating head design and lantern rings in a BEP style design. The rib section inside a channel head that constrains tube side flow through defined number of tubes in a multi-pass heat exchanger. A formed plate which is welded to the shell pipe. In most instances, a flat end plate cover is more economical. A flange design that features a flange ring that slides over and is welded onto a pipe section or nozzle pipe. A piece of tubing that slides over the tie rod between baffle plates to secure the baffle position in a tube bundle. A stud bolt is threaded rod that extends through holes in two mating surfaces and is secured with hex nuts on each end. It stands for Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association. TEMA guidelines cover manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance of shell and tube heat exchangers. Pressure at which hydrostatic testing is carried out on heat exchangers to detect any leaks on shell and tube sides of the heat exchanger. Test pressures are defined by ASME that is generally 1.3 times design pressure plus pressure compensation for ambient water used during hydrostatic test. A small diameter rod that threads into the tubesheet and secures the baffles and spaces together. Defines the size of tube, tube pitch and pattern of tubes within a tube bundle or core assembly. Typically made out of a plate. Tube sheets have holes that correspond with tube layout. Tubes are secured in holes by roller expansion and seal welding. Tube sheets can contain grooves inside tube holes to provide strength to joints. These types are generally used on pulled nozzle ports. In some cases, welding is more efficient by using a backing ring behind two mating beveled edges.

Lantern Ring



Packed Head

Pass Partition

Shell Head

Slip On Flange


Stud Bolt


Test Pressure

Tie Rod

Tube Layout


Weld Neck Flange