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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Heat Exchanger Design

Design methods for several important classes of process heat-transfer equipment are presented in the following article. Mechanical descriptions and specifications of equipment are given in this section and should be read in conjunction with the use of this material. It is impossible to present here a comprehensive treatment of heat-exchanger selection, design, and application. The best general references in this field are Hewitt, Shires, and Bott, Process Heat Transfer, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1994; and Schl√ľnder (ed.), Heat Exchanger Design Handbook, Begell House, New York, 1983.

Approach to Heat-Exchanger Design The proper use of basic heat-transfer knowledge in the design of practical heat-transfer equipment is an art. Designers must be constantly aware of the differences between the idealized conditions for and under which the basic knowledge was obtained and the real conditions of the mechanical expression of their design and its environment. The result must satisfy process and operational requirements (such as availability, flexibility, and maintainability) and do so economically. An important part of any design process is to consider and offset the consequences of error in the basic knowledge, in its subsequent incorporation into a design method, in the translation of design into equipment, or in the operation of the equipment and the process. Heat-exchanger design is not a highly accurate art under the best of conditions.

The design of a process heat exchanger usually proceeds through the following steps:
  1. Process conditions (stream compositions, flow rates, temperatures, pressures) must be specified.
  2. Required physical properties over the temperature and pressure ranges of interest must be obtained.
  3. The type of heat exchanger to be employed is chosen.
  4. A preliminary estimate of the size of the exchanger is made, using a heat-transfer coefficient appropriate to the fluids, the process, and the equipment.
  5. A first design is chosen, complete in all details necessary to carry out the design calculations.
  6. The design chosen in step 5 is evaluated, or rated, as to its ability to meet the process, specifications with respect to both heat transfer and pressure drop.
  7. On the basis of the result of step 6, a new configuration is chosen if necessary and step 6 is repeated. If the first design was inadequate to meet the required heat load, it is usually necessary to increase the size of the exchanger while still remaining within specified or feasible limits of pressure drop, tube length, shell diameter, etc. This will sometimes mean going to multiple-exchanger configurations. If the first design more than meets heat-load requirements or does not use all the allowable pressure drop, a less expensive exchanger can usually be designed to fulfill process requirements.
  8. The final design should meet process requirements (within reasonable expectations of error) at lowest cost. The lowest cost should include operation and maintenance costs and credit for ability to meet long-term process changes, as well as installed (capital) cost.
Exchangers should not be selected entirely on a lowest-first-cost basis, which frequently results in future penalties.

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