Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Replacing Heat Exchanger Tube Bundles

heat exchangers outdoors at oil refinery
Heat exchangers of many sizes are used throughout industry
Heat, a well recognized energy component of countless industrial processes. Heat exchangers are employed to move or transfer heat between two media, and are available in a wide variety of designs and configurations. They are manufactured from materials and in forms to accommodate the specific performance requirements of each process, machine, or operation.

The shell and tube heat exchanger is one common type of this heat transfer device that can be found in many commercial buildings and industrial plants. The unit is comprised of a vessel, or shell, with an array of tubes contained within. One fluid will flood the shell, encompassing the tubes through which a second fluid passes. The contact between the fluid within the shell and the outer surface of the tubes facilitates the transfer of heat energy between the two media. Applications for shell and tube units typically involve two liquids or one liquid and steam. They are not suitable for applications involving air streams.

Eventually, all heat exchangers need either major overhaul or replacement. Tubes tend to deteriorate faster than the shell, so replacement of the tube bundle can breathe extra life into a heat exchanger. Original documentation provided with the unit, plus a physical inspection, should provide all the information needed to have a new tube bundle manufactured. Numerous sources are available for replacement tube bundles, with the original manufacturer being only one potential source.
The replacing of a heat exchanger is also a good time to examine the performance delivered by the existing unit. Was it a limiting factor in the operation of the process? If so, perhaps this may be an opportunity to build in some headroom. Whatever the case, recognize that bringing in a product specialist with experience and knowledge will provide the beneficial leverage you need to get the job done right and finished on time.