Heat exchangers are tools used to transfer heat from one fluid to another. When heat exchangers fail to function, there is a high probability that the major parts have stopped functioning too. When your car engine overheats, the problem is more likely to be with the heat exchanger. It is commonly called a radiator, but its a type of heat exchanger. Inside the radiator air is cooled by the antifreeze as it flows. It is then further cooled when the radiators fan blows it to the engine. Suppose your radiator fails, you will not be able to drive for a long distance before seeking help.
Heat exchangers are made particularly to transfer heat from one fluid to the other using a solid surface as the medium. This process occurs in two forms; either by absorption or by dissipation of heat. It is also important to note that these two fluids should have no physical contact with each other. They are used in our everyday lives in equipment such as air conditioning systems, refrigerators, ground water systems and boilers.
Other uses include in sewage treatment, natural gas processing, space heating, chemical plants as well as petroleum plants. They are also very efficient in energy saving as they reclaim wasted heat and make it useable. There are different types and are identified according to the direction the liquid will be flowing. This includes cross flow, counter-current and parallel flow heat exchangers. Parallel flows are made in such a way that all the fluids flow in the same direction, going in and out of the exchanger side by side.
The cross flow models are made in a way that the paths are moving perpendicular to each other. Counter current models are designed in a way that the fluid paths are moving in opposite directions, one entering and the other exiting. They perform better when compared to the other systems. Heat exchangers can as well be distinguished according to their composition. Some have several tubes, while others do not have plates which provide space for the flow of fluids.
A shell and tube exchanger is designed with a number of tubes which are separated into two sets where one has the liquid that cools or heats the system while the other contains the liquid that sparks the exchange. To allow maximum heat exchange, this type of exchanger should have the right diameter and thickness. A plate exchanger contains thin plates with large surfaces, fused together with small spaces between them.
Heat exchangers are mainly used by chemical plants and oil refineries. Their main use is the exchange of heat from one place to the other, usually from one fluid to another. To ensure maximum efficiency of the heat exchanger and its integrity, it is advisable to have regular inspections of your heat exchanger.
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