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Heat Exchangers How Plate–and–Shell Heat Exchangers Work

| Author / Editor: Thorsten Klahm / Dominik Stephan

Alternative sources of energy are becoming increasingly important alongside classic resources such as oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. One alternative source of energy is industrial waste heat. The most popular way to employ waste heat is to re-use it directly within the manufacturing process, but another increasingly popular option is to generate electricity.

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Figure 2: In this kettle-type plate-and-shell evaporator, off-centre mounting of the plate pack provides room for vapor to disengage
Figure 2: In this kettle-type plate-and-shell evaporator, off-centre mounting of the plate pack provides room for vapor to disengage
(Picture: Gesmex)

Power generation from waste heat often uses organic Rankine cycles (ORC) at relatively low temperatures: An organic fluid such as isobutane or a synthetic refrigerant is vaporized and superheated before being expanded in a turbine, driving a generator which produces electricity. The process is similar to the classic Rankine cycle used by conventional coal-fired power stations — except that it cannot use water as the available temperatures are too low. Pressures in an ORC, on the other hand, are often comparatively high to increase the efficiency of the cycle. As a result, the evaporation part of the cycle requires heat exchangers which can operate effectively at high pressures.

Advantages of Plate-and-Shell Heat Exchanger

In the past, shell-and-tube heat exchangers were the preferred choice for applications involving high pressures, temperatures, or both. More recently however, plate-and-shell exchangers proved themselves suited to pressures up to 150 bar and temperatures up to 400 °C.

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A growing energy awareness drives the global heat exchanger market. New design features and materials promise higher efficiencies, but raw material scarcity clouds the outlook. Read more in Energy Awareness Drives Heat Exchanger Market!

Plate-and-shell exchangers combine the pressure and temperature capabilities of a cylindrical shell with the excellent heat transfer performance of a plate heat exchanger. The round plates ensure an even distribution of mechanical loads, without the stress concentrations that occur in the corners of rectangular plates.

Read on, how plate–and–shell heat exchangers provide additional versatility and efficiency on page 2.

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