Plate Heat Exchanger diagram

In any form of heating and cooling, one path to greater profitability is to extract maximum benefit from all the heat energy already available within the system – rather than producing or buying expensive additional heat energy.

Heat transfer involves bringing two substances at different temperatures close to each other so that one either heats or cools the other.

This means that energy already within the system – which is already paid for – is simply transferred to another part of the process where it can be put to the greatest effect.

This saves you money, saves energy, and reduces the overall environmental impact of your production processes.

Only the biggest and best companies in this field have the resources and the know-how to provide a comprehensive range of heat exchanger solutions.

Alfa Laval is one of those companies able to supply the optimal heat transfer technologies to meet your needs.

Heat transfer technologies – the choice Broadly speaking, shell-and-tube heat exchangers are the large, traditional solution, spiral heat exchangers are the smaller, simple solution, and plate heat exchangers are the compact, modern solution with significantly better thermal efficiency and by far the greatest technology development potential.

At Alfa Laval, we want to provide you with optimal solutions. Alfa Laval has therefore focused strongly on plate heat exchanger technology.

Optimizing heat transfer Plate heat exchangers are designed to optimize heat transfer because the corrugated plates provide by far the greatest surface area through which the heat can be drawn from one gas or liquid to the other.

Despite this substantial area for heat transfer, plate heat exchangers are usually relatively compact.

For example, an Alfa Laval Compabloc solution, one of the most compact installations currently available, only takes up about 20% of the physical space needed for a traditional installation.

The design of the channels also ensures maximum turbulence as each fluid passes through.

This maximizes efficiency in transferring heat from one medium to the other. 

Optimizing the use of heat energy with plate heat exchangers
Optimizing the use of heat energy with plate heat exchangers

Working principle of a plate heat exchanger

The basic plate heat exchanger consists of a series of thin, corrugated plates that are gasketed or welded together (or any combination of these) depending on the liquids passing through and on whether it is practical to be able to subsequently separate the plates for whatever reason.

The plates are then compressed together in a rigid frame to create an arrangement of parallel flow channels. One fluid travels in the odd-numbered channels, the other in the even channels.


Working principle of a plate heat exchanger
Working principle of a plate heat exchanger

The difference lies in the inside of the plate heat exchanger

All plate heat exchangers look similar from the outside. The differences lie in the details of plate design and the sealing technologies used.

Alfa Laval is the largest manufacturer of plate heat exchanger solutions in the world. We use plate heat exchanger design and manufacturing processes that are quite simply in a class of their own:

  • single-step pressing of plates – resulting in greater uniformity, less physical stress, thinner plates, and more efficient heat transfer.
  • patented distribution area design – resulting in maximum use of the heat transfer area, the greatest turbulence in the flow, optimum fluid distribution, higher design pressure capabilities, and minimal fouling.
  • the ability to provide you with a complete range of fully optimized plate heat exchanger designs, sizes, and applications that can meet virtually any operational specification. Plate heat exchangers from Alfa Laval are available:
  • gasketed or welded together (or any combination of these) using various carefully researched gasket materials and adhesives.
  • as single–phase containing two liquids or for two-phase applications containing a gas and a liquid, serving as condensers, evaporators, and reboilers.
  • for various temperatures, pressures, and fluids with differing purity, viscosity, and solids/fiber content.
  • as two-in-one units because the temperature profile and flow through the unit can be managed exactly as required.
  • for various applications, ranging from the most aggressive and demanding environments, such as the nuclear power industry and offshore oil and gas installations, to the processing of delicate beverages and foodstuffs.

Welded – Completely welded plates expand temperature and pressure limitations to 350°C (650°F) and 40 bar 625 psig.

Glued gaskets – Should your operating condition promote gasket swelling, and glued gaskets provide increased reliability, especially for repeated openings. Replacement of glued gaskets is not necessary for servicing. Our oven-cured epoxy affixes the gasket firmly and will not dissolve.

Glue-free gaskets – Glue-free gaskets provide fast and easy gasket replacement on site.

Plate heat exchanger frame

Alfa Laval Plate Heat Exchanger
Alfa Laval Plate Heat Exchanger

Plate innovations

Diabon Graphite® nonmetallic

A composite of fused graphite and fluoroplastic, this unit provides excellent resistance to hydrochloric acid, AlCl3, and other corrosive materials. Unlike traditional graphite, Diabon F® has no porosity or permeability. It resists cracking and breakage during handling and use.

Wide-gap plate

With 17mm channels free of contact points, this plate is ideal for fluids containing fibers or coarse particles. Each channel has been designed to eliminate the bridging of solids in the entrance area.

Double-wall plate

Composed of plates pressed simultaneously and laser welded at the port, this is designed for applications where additional reliability against intermixing is necessary to prevent catastrophe. Failure of one plate results in external detection without inter-leakage. The second wall provides a double barrier between fluids, meeting local health code regulations.

Semi-welded plate

Welded channels for process fluids allow aggressive and difficult fluids to be handled in a plate heat exchanger and expand the pressure range. The gasket exposure is minimal on the welded side.

The Alfa Laval pay-off

To achieve maximum profitability in the modern process industry, it is important that your company can heat and cool a wide range of substances:

  • with great precision.
  • at a low overall cost.
  • with maximum reliability.
  • with a minimum of energy consumption.
  • in an environmentally responsible way.

Alfa Laval plate heat exchanger solutions can help you:

Boost performance and capacity. Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers are extremely compact. Due to the very small footprint, often only about 20% of the size of traditional installations, new equipment can be installed even in extremely confined spaces to boost the performance and capacity of existing plants.

Achieve much greater flexibility and scalability. Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers are all based on an inherently flexible design. The number and specifications of the plates can simply be increased, reduced, or altered as the capacity you require varies over time. This means less capital tied to application-specific equipment.

Ensure smoother operation. Operations that use Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers are easier to control and have much lower start-up volumes. Because of the vastly greater controlled turbulence in the flow, they are much less affected by troublesome fouling than traditional solutions. They are also subject to less vibration, stress, and material fatigue.

Cutting down on maintenance, service, and cleaning. Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers can radically affect your company’s maintenance and service schedules and the downtime these can involve. These solutions feature significantly better flow patterns with much greater turbulence than shell-and-tube heat exchangers.

This gives you much greater heat transfer efficiency with the major added benefit of less fouling and virtually no corrosion or erosion. This results in fewer, much quicker inspections and rapid cleaning. And the Alfa Laval solution means that all cleaning or plate replacement work can be done on-site and within the physical footprint of the unit.

Acquire installations that bring you major cost savings

Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers are exceedingly compact in size. In installations that require exotic metals, special alloys, and other costly components to deal with aggressive media, this means significant savings in initial purchase costs.

Small size and low weight also mean low initial installation cost, while high heat transfer efficiency means low operating costs throughout the unit’s working life. And the major reduction in maintenance requirements compared with traditional equipment also cuts service costs right back.

Ensure minimum environmental impact

is becoming an increasingly critical concern, and Alfa Laval plate heat exchanger solutions provide you with a way of reducing this significantly.

Alfa Laval technology can seriously boost the long-term socio-political acceptability of your industrial operations by ensuring maximum heat recovery from any and every one of your industrial processes and using less cooling and less heating medium.

Create a viable technology upgrade path

Shell-and-tube heat exchangers are solutions that do indeed work but are fundamentally expensive, heavy, and essentially obsolescent.

Alfa Laval plate heat exchanger solutions are equally well proven, yet they are also light in weight and relatively inexpensive in terms of capital cost, installation cost, operating cost, and service cost. And they are capable of virtually unlimited future development as regards the kind of industrial processes you can use them for.

Alfa Laval can supply a plate heat exchanger that can deal with a continually expanding envelope of pressures and temperatures and liquids with greater viscosity and higher fiber content.

Expanding the envelope

Alfa Laval plate heat exchanger technology also expands the entire envelope of what you can achieve with your company’s process technology:

  • completely new solutions become possible (combining a condenser and a sub-cooler in one single unit, for example).
  • supplementary technologies, such as temperature pinching, can be introduced.
  • exotic metals can be used at a relatively low cost, making it completely feasible to use plate heat exchangers even with volatile.

Making the most of it

Competitive advantage and bottom-line profits are always boosted by making the most out of what you’ve got. But plate heat exchanger solutions from Alfa Laval also make it possible to break new ground. They provide you with ways of significantly boosting:

  • the heat transfer capacity at your disposal, at a relatively low cost.
  • your control over the heat transfer process/temperature profile.
  • your product quality, due to better control of surface heating/cooling, avoiding harmful overheating.
  • product quantities due to better condensing.

Future objectives in plate heat exchanger technology

Alfa Laval is at the forefront of R&D work on plate heat exchangers. Our practical experience indicates that the years to come will feature further development in the following areas:

  • energy-saving measures.
  • units that can work within greater temperature and pressure ranges.
  • greater focus on Life Cycle Costs (LCC).
  • use in even more industrial applications.
  • multipurpose installations.
  • standardized preventative maintenance.
  • service that can be conducted within the physical footprint of the unit.

Five benefits to using Alfa Laval Plate Heat Exchangers

  1. Precision heat transfer – Closer approach temperature True counter-current flow Capable of handling crossing temperatures 80–90% less hold-up volume
  2. Low overall cost – Low capital investment Reduced installation costs Limited maintenance expenditure Minimal operating costs
  3. Maximum reliability – Less fouling. Less stress, wear, and corrosion. Precision engineering/laser welding.
  4. Minimum energy consumption – Maximum heat recovery Lower energy costs
  5. Smaller surface area – Environmentally responsible solution. Minimum energy consumption for maximum process effect. Reduced cleaning. Fewer materials used in construction Lower Life Cycle Costs (LCC).

The content in this post is directly attributed to Alfa Laval. You can Download the content in this post direct from Alfa Laval as a PDF.


Whether you need a gasketed plate heat exchanger, a brazed plate heat exchanger, or any other type of heat exchanger solution, Alfa Laval is sure to have the right technology for your specific needs. With many years of experience in the field, Alfa Laval has the knowledge and expertise to provide you with a solution.

Want to discuss an Alfa Laval plate heat exchanger? Contact one of our experts today on 01246 856 396.

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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