Benefits of plate heat exchangers in industrial applications

PHE Industrial application

Plate heat exchangers are an important part of many industrial processes.

A plate heat exchanger is a device that transfers thermal energy from one fluid to another by means of conduction and convection. They are used in various industries, including chemical processing, power generation, food production, oil refining and more.

These devices offer a number of benefits over other types of heat exchangers. For example, they can be made with materials that have high corrosion resistance or low fouling rates for specific fluids. And because they operate at lower pressures than shell-and-tube designs, they’re easier to maintain and less likely to fail due to pressure fluctuations or contamination buildup on the tube surfaces.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of using plate heat exchangers in industrial applications, as well as how to pick out the best plate heat exchanger for your needs.

What is a plate heat exchanger?

A plate heat exchanger (PHE) is a device that is used to transfer heat between two fluids. The fluids are usually in contact with metal plates, which allows for the efficient transfer of heat. PHEs are commonly used in industrial applications, as they offer several benefits over other types of heat exchangers.

Want to know more about gasketed plate heat exchangers? Read our library article, what is a plate heat exchanger.

How do they work and what are some of the benefits of using them in industrial settings

A plate heat exchanger uses a series of metal plates to transfer heat between two fluids. The fluids can be either liquids or gases, and the plate heat exchanger can be used in a variety of industrial applications.

There are several benefits of using plate heat exchangers in industrial applications. The first benefit is the fact that plate heat exchangers can be designed to handle abrasive fluids or corrosive chemicals, which would normally damage other types of heat exchangers. PHE’s also operate at lower pressures than shell-and-tube designs, making them less likely to fail due to pressure fluctuations. These devices are also easier to maintain, as the tube surfaces are exposed and easier for someone to scrub clean. Plate heat exchangers offer other benefits in addition to these, which will be discussed further down.

One of the main benefits of plate heat exchangers is that they’re relatively inexpensive compared to many other types of heat exchangers.

Plate heat exchangers are particularly useful for processes that require high-temperature differentials or large volumes of fluids, such as power plants and steam generators, petroleum refining and petrochemical production, natural gas processing, cryogenics, space heating systems, desalinating plants and more.

Ten benefits of plate heat exchangers in an industrial setting include:

Benefits of Plate Heat Exchangers

1. Economical – A plate heat exchanger costs less than an equivalent shell and tube heat exchanger, the two most common types of heat exchangers used in commercial settings.

2. Compact – The compact design enables the greater surface area to be packed into a smaller space. This is beneficial when limited space is available for equipment in industrial settings.

3. Lower Maintenance Costs – Plate heat exchangers are less prone to leaks, which can significantly reduce maintenance costs in industrial applications.

4. Fast Fluid Flow – The plate design allows for a high flow rate, which is beneficial in many types of industrial applications, especially those involving heat transfer fluids or combustion gasses.

5. Higher operating pressure capabilities – Plate heat exchangers are capable of withstanding higher pressures than other heat exchanger types, making them perfect for industrial settings that require high-temperature differentials or large volumes of fluids.

6. Ability to be Divided – The plate design allows for a heat exchanger to be divided into several units in order to accommodate simultaneous heating or cooling.

7. Great adaptability – The required heat transfer area can be achieved by increasing or decreasing the heat exchanger plates.

8. Higher temperature capabilities – Plate heat exchangers can handle a large amount of heat and operate at higher temperatures, making them perfect for industrial settings that require high-temperature differentials or large volumes of fluids.

9. Ability to avoid fouling – The plate design allows for easy inspection and replacement of fouled plates, which significantly reduces the risk of degradation due to fouling in a plate heat exchanger.

PHE's are easier to clean than other heat exchangers
PHE”s are easier to clean on site

10. Ability to handle corrosive fluids – The corrosion-resistant plates allow for a clean and efficient transfer of heat, which is beneficial when handling corrosive materials in an industrial setting.

In conclusion, plate heat exchangers are used in many different types of industrial applications because they offer several benefits over

The process for installing a plate heat exchanger in an industrial setting

The process for installing a plate heat exchanger in an industrial setting can vary depending on the application. However, the basic steps are usually the same.

  1. Decide on the location for the PHE and mark off the area. Make sure to include enough room around the outside of the plates for maintenance, cleaning, and/or repair.
  2. Remove any obstructions from the area and clear a space for the PHE. Make sure to use a non-combustible surface during installation, as the heat exchanger will be hot. Place a sheet of high-temperature insulation on top of the work area so that it extends beyond the PHE on all sides. This will prevent accidental contact with hot surfaces and safety hazards if anyone walks into or around the work area.
  3. Install the frame for the PHE. For smaller units, this may be all that is required. Larger heat exchangers will most likely require additional components to be installed before the plates can be put in place.
  4. Connect the inlet and outlet ports to the appropriate piping. In many cases, the piping will already be in place from a previous heat exchanger. If not, make sure to use large-diameter piping that can handle high-pressure applications.
  5. Install any necessary insulation around the PHE. Insulation will prevent heat loss and protect the PHE from damage.
  6. Connect the piping to a pump and start up the system components. Check for any leaks and make any necessary adjustments or repairs before allowing the heat exchanger to begin operation.

Example industries that would benefit from using a plate heat exchanger in their operation

Industries that would benefit from using a plate heat exchanger in their operation include chemical plants, refineries, power plants, steel mills, and other industrial complexes.

Plate heat exchangers are ideal for these types of facilities because they offer several advantages over other types of heat exchangers. For example, plate heat exchangers are more compact and efficient than other types of heat exchangers.

PHE’s are also less expensive to operate and maintain. In addition, they require less space and less energy to operate.

In contrast to shell-and-tube heat exchangers which have a very long time constant, plate heat exchangers have a very short response time so they are ideal for handling large fluctuations in load.

Industries that commonly use plate heat exchangers include:

A PHE situated in a boiler room
A PHE situated in a boiler room

How do plate heat exchangers function?

A plate heat exchanger has two or more metal plates that are separated by a thin space, filled with heat transfer fluid. The plates are composed of corrugated channels that serve as the path for the fluids to pass through.

It can be designed so that one fluid passes on one side of the plate while another fluid passes on the other side of the same plate.

On the other hand, it can be designed so that all the fluid flows in one direction.

There are two primary types of plate heat exchangers: parallel flow and crossflow. The difference between these two types is that the fluids travel in different directions in a parallel flow type while they travel together through the same direction in a crossflow type.

In a parallel flow arrangement, fluid flows on opposite sides of each plate. Therefore, the number of plates and the path length for this type is twice as much as with a cross-flow exchanger and they require less pressure drop than cross-flow exchangers.

Different types of heat exchangers for industrial applications

Plate heat exchangers are just one of several different types of heat exchangers. The other types of heat exchangers include;

  • Brazed Heat Exchangers
  • Fin and tube
  • Shell and tube
  • Double Tube Heat Exchangers
  • Plate and shell heat exchanger
A shell and tube heat exchanger
A shell and tube heat exchanger

Conclusion

Plate Heat Exchangers can be used in many types of industries to transfer thermal energy and maintain required temperatures.

Plate Heat Exchangers offer many benefits over other types of heat exchangers. These include a lower pressure drop, higher thermal efficiency and a smaller footprint. The last two factors are crucial when designing for new plants in order to save on space and costs.

If you are looking to save on space or increase efficiency, then plate heat exchangers could be for you!

If you need advice on which type of heat exchanger is right for your process, contact us here.

About WCR UK

We supply replacement plates and gaskets and provide a full service and repair program for all major brands of plate heat exchangers

WCR UK is the best heat exchanger services company in the United Kingdom because of our experience and expertise. We have been in the business for many years, and we have a team of dedicated professionals who can help you with all your heat exchanger needs.

We also offer a wide range of services, including replacement parts, servicing, repairs, and cleaning. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you can reach us anytime.

Our dedication to quality and our customers is what sets us apart from other companies in the industry. Read more

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