How Heat Exchangers Work A Brief Overview

Heat exchangers are needed in a variety of industries, such as thermal energy storage and management. They are also required to maintain hot water in storage tanks and to heat other types of fluids, such as fuel. What follows is a brief overview of these systems and how they operate.

What Is a Heat Exchanger?

Basically, a heat exchanger is a device that transfers heat under the following conditions:

  • Between two or more fluids
  • Between solid surfaces and fluids
  • Between solid particulates and fluids

How Is a Heat Transfer Accomplished?

In order for a heat transfer to occur, the two fluids need to be at different temperatures. These fluids also need to come into thermal contact in order to complete the transfer process. It’s important to note that the actual exchange occurs due to convection in each fluid as well as conduction through the wall that separates the fluids. This can be explained through the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that heat can only flow, or be transferred from, a hotter to a cooler fluid.

When heat is transferred under the above conditions, different temperatures and levels of thermal contact occur. Due to the close proximity of the processing fluids inside the diffusion bonded heat exchanger core, extremely high heat transfer rates are possible. They are able to attain up to 98% efficiency and temperatures up to 2oC.

Are There Different Types of Heat Exchangers?

There are three types of heat exchangers:

  • Parallel-flow, or counterflow, configurations
  • Cross-flow configurations
  • Shell-and-tube configurations

When parallel flow heat exchangers are used, for example, the fluid on the tube side and the fluid on the shell side both flow in the same direction. In a cross-flow heat exchanger, however, one fluid flows through the tubes and the other passes perpendicularly around the tubes. In some instances, the fluids may pass through the heat exchanger once, while in others, they will do so twice. The former is referred to as a single-pass heat exchanger and the latter is referred to as a multi-pass heat exchanger.

Learn More About Heat Exchangers

There are a variety of heat exchangers, such as ITT Standard, that your business operation may need to perform its operations. In addition to ITT Standard heat exchangers, you may also want to learn more about ITT Conoflow and ITT Neo Dyn heat exchangers. Once you speak with a distributor, you will be able to determine the most appropriate type of systems for your purposes.