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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heat Exchangers For Solids

This section describes equipment for heat transfer to or from solids by the indirect mode. Such equipment is so constructed that the solids load (burden) is separated from the heat-carrier medium by a wall; the two phases are never in direct contact. Heat transfer is by conduction based on diffusion laws.

Some of the devices covered here handle the solids burden in a static or laminar-flowing bed. Other devices can be considered as continuously agitated kettles in their heat-transfer aspect. For the latter, unit-area performance rates are higher.

Computational and graphical methods for predicting performance are given for both major heat-transfer aspects in Sec. 10. In solids heat processing with indirect equipment, the engineer should remember that the heat-transfer capability of the wall is many times that of the solids burden. Hence the solids properties and bed geometry govern the rate of heat transfer. This is more fully explained earlier in this section. Only limited resultant (not predictive) and “experience” data are given here.


A frequent operation in the chemical field is the removal of heat from a material in a molten state to effect its conversion to the solid state. When the operation is carried on batchwise, it is termed casting, but when done continuously, it is termed flaking. Because of rapid heat transfer and temperature variations, jacketed types are limited to an initial melt temperature of 232°C (450°F). Higher temperatures [to 316°C (600°F)] require extreme care in jacket design and cooling liquid flow pattern. Best performance and greatest capacity are obtained by (1) holding precooling to the minimum and (2) optimizing the cake thickness. The latter cannot always be done from the heat-transfer standpoint, as size specifications for the end product may dictate thickness.

Table Type
This is a simple flat metal sheet with slightly upturned edges and jacketed on the underside for coolant flow. For many years this was the mainstay of food processors. Table types are still widely used when production is in small batches, when considerable batch-to-batch variation occurs, for pilot investigation, and when the cost of continuous devices is unjustifiable. Slab thicknesses are usually in the range of 13 to 25 mm (a to 1 in). These units are homemade, with no standards available. Initial cost is low, but operating labor is high.

Agitated-Pan Type
A natural evolution from the table type is a circular flat surface with jacketing on the underside for coolant flow and the added feature of a stirring means to sweep over the heat transfer surface. This device is the agitated-pan type (Fig. 11-51). It is a batch-operation device. Because of its age and versatility it still serves a variety of heat-transfer operations for the chemical-process industries. While the most prevalent designation is agitated-pan dryer (in this mode, the burden is heated rather than cooled), considerable use is made of it for solidification applications. In this field, it is particularly suitable for processing burdens that change phase (1) slowly, by “thickening,” (2) over a wide temperature range, (3) to an amorphous solid form, or (4) to a soft semi gummy form (versus the usual hard crystalline structure).

The stirring produces the end product in the desired divided-solids form. Hence, it is frequently termed a “granulator” or a “crystallizer.” A variety of factory-made sizes in various materials of construction are available. Initial cost is modest, while operating cost is rather high (as is true of all batch devices), but the ability to process “gummy” burdens and/or simultaneously effect two unit operations often yields an economical application.

Vibratory Type
This construction (Fig. 11-52) takes advantage of the burden’s special needs and the characteristic of vibratory actuation. A flammable burden requires the use of an inert atmosphere over it and a suitable nonhazardous fluid in the jacket. The vibratory action permits construction of rigid self-cleaning chambers with simple flexible connections. When solidification has been completed and vibrators started, the intense vibratory motion of the whole deck structure (as a rigid unit) breaks free the friable cake [up to 76 mm (3 in) thick], shatters it into lumps, and conveys it up over the dam to discharge. Heat-transfer performance is good, with overall coefficient U of about 68 W/(m2 ×°C) [12 Btu/(h×ft2 ×°F)] and values of heat flux q in the order of 11,670 W/m2 [3700 Btu/(h×ft2)]. Application of timing cycle controls and a surge hopper for the discharge solids facilitates automatic operation of the caster and continuous operation of subsequent equipment.

Belt Types
The patented metal-belt type (Fig. 11-53a), termed the “water-bed” conveyor, features a thin wall, a well-agitated fluid side for a thin water film (there are no rigid welded jackets to fail), a stainless-steel or Swedish-iron conveyor belt “floated” on the water with the aid of guides, no removal knife, and cleanability. It is mostly used for cake thicknesses of 3.2 to 15.9 mm (f to v in) at speeds up to 15 m/min (50 ft/min), with 45.7-m (150-ft) pulley centers common.

For 25- to 32-mm (1- to 1d-in) cake, another belt on top to give two sided cooling is frequently used. Applications are in food operations for cooling to harden candies, cheeses, gelatins, margarines, gums, etc.; and in chemical operations for solidification of sulfur, greases, resins, soaps, waxes, chloride salts, and some insecticides. Heat transfer is good, with sulfur solidification showing values of q = 5800 W/m2
[1850 Btu/(h×ft2)] and U = 96 W/(m2 ×°C) [17 Btu/(h×ft2 ×°F)] for a 7.9-mm (b-in) cake.

The submerged metal belt (Fig. 11-53b) is a special version of the metal belt to meet the peculiar handling properties of pitch in its solidification process. Although adhesive to a dry metal wall, pitch will not stick to the submerged wetted belt or rubber edge strips. Submergence helps to offset the very poor thermal conductivity through two-sided heat transfer. A fairly recent application of the water-cooled metal belt to solidification
duty is shown in Fig. 11-54. The operation is termed pastillizing from the form of the solidified end product, termed “pastilles.” The novel feature is a one-step operation from the molten liquid to a fairly uniformly sized and shaped product without intermediate operations on the solid phase.