Cross-contamination is a serious problem in many different industries including the food industry. This is because the heat exchangers that are used in the processing of food items can sometimes cause cross-contamination. For example, heat exchangers are used in the pasteurization of milk and other dairy products. Given that some of these shells and tubes are also used for other products, there is the danger that cross-contamination may occur, leading to plant shutdowns and product recalls. Such problems can cost a company millions of dollars in expensive shutdowns and product recalls. In this article, we are going to look at some of the ways a company can prevent cross-contamination in tube and shell heat exchangers.
- Use Quality Heat Exchange Systems
The materials that are used to construct your heat exchanger will play a vital role in ensuring that cross-contamination is kept at a minimum. This is one of the reasons why stainless-steel is a popular material in the construction of tube and shell heat exchanges. This is because it is resistant to corrosion and is easy to clean. When installing your heat exchange system, you should ensure that you work with top-quality fabricators to ensure that the system is sound and that there are no leaks. This is critical as any mixing of the hot and cold fluids in the heat exchange could lead to cross-contamination.
- Consider Double Tube Configuration
Cross-contamination can occur in other industries apart from food-related processors. A good example where cross-contamination could also have devastating consequences is in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. This is the reason many pharmaceutical plants work with double sheet configurations to ensure that any mixing of fluids in the heat exchange system is kept at a minimum. You can also take further steps to ensure that there is a very low risk of cross-contamination. This is achieved by adding a leak detection mechanism that ensures that any leaked fluids are directed away from the system and into a safe catchment container.
The system will also alert the operators that there is a leak so that any processing is halted, and repairs are undertaken as soon as possible.
- Pressure Differentials
One of the factors that may contribute to leaks and cross-contamination is pressure differentials inside the system. Usually, the pressure inside the tube is greater than that inside the shell. This ensures that the product being processed flows into the heat transfer medium rather than the medium entering the tubes. This ensures that if there is any leak, the damage is kept at a minimum as the tubes where the product flows are kept free of the medium. It thus follows that machine operators manning such systems must keep a close eye on pressure differentials within the system.
When heat exchange systems are regularly inspected and repaired, it reduces the chances of leaks and cross-contamination. This is because such leaks are typically progressive and if the damage can be caught early, repairs can help prevent significant damage. Other potential sources of trouble include worn gaskets and other tubing materials. Heat damages rubber and this may lead to cracks and leaks. For this reason, any worn gaskets must be replaced immediately.