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How Do Shell And Tube Heat Exchangers Work?

Heat exchangers are devices that aid in the transfer of energy through heat, between two working fluids in contact. These fluids can be gases, liquids, or saturated mixtures. Heat exchanger devices come in all types of shapes and sizes to remove or introduce heat into a system. They are crucial for HVAC, power generation, refrigeration, refining and many more. It’s often difficult for one to understand heat exchangers, so this article will shed some light on how tube heat exchangers work.

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Functioning of Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

As mentioned previously, the most basic and essential function of the shell and tube exchanger is to allow the cold fluid to pass through a hot fluid without actually mixing them. This process is known as the transfer of heat between two fluids. In the shell and tube heat exchanger, there are typically two outlets and two inlets. Each fluid will enter at different inlets and leave the device at different outlets. The flow at the shell-side begins at its shell inlet, passes through the tubes, and leaves the device at the outlet. Similarly, the tube-side flow flows through its tube bundle, which is secured by the tubeplates or tube sheets, and leaves the device at the tube outlet.

Some tubes will consist of an insert, also commonly termed as turbulator, which creates non-laminar flow in the device. Additionally, it helps to prevent any sediment deposits and enhance the heat transfer of the heat exchanger. Barriers in the shell are also designed to create further turbulence, to enhance the thermal mixing between the coolant pipes and the shell-side fluid. Since the shell-side fluid has to continuously work around the barriers over to the tube bundle, the flow will result in heat transfer and allow the fluid to exit the outlet with a lowered temperature.

Shell and tube heat exchangers are either two-phased or single-phased. A single-phased device allows the fluid to maintain its constant phase during the process. In contrast, the two-phased exchanger causes a change in phase throughout the process, where the steam first enters the system and leaves at the outlet as liquid water. Both the shell and tube heat exchangers can be single or multi pass, which includes the number of times the shell-side or tube-side flow passes throughout the device. In the multi pass configuration, the shell-side flow will pass through a coolant several times for instance, before leaving the device. However, if barriers are not present, the heat exchanger will have a single pass configuration instead, as the shell-side flow only passes through the tube-side flow once.

Your Best Option for Heat Exchanger Tube Plugs at Torq N Seal

Here at Torq N Seal, we have a wide variety of tube plugs available for your heat exchangers, including our high-pressure tube plugs, low-pressure tube plugs, and condensers. If you are unsure of the exact product you require, our Plug Selector can help you in the simplification of your search. By filtering and clicking the relevant options at each step, you’ll be given a part number that perfectly meets your requirements.

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