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Holly Hoover, Global Product Manager-Heat Exchangers, SPX FLOW, discusses the origins of heat transfer technology and how the latest technological developments are helping to keep industrial energy consumption and costs under control.
Energy consumption and runtime are key parameters that affect production costs in many industrial sectors. It is, therefore, critical that the technologies used to heat and cool buildings or fluids used during processing continue to develop and improve, helping the end-user to optimize production, control costs, and remain competitive.
Here comes the science
Heat exchangers are a case in point. This technology is fundamental to a wide range of industrial applications, from cooling towers in power stations to regulating the temperature of lubricating oil for a drilling rig.
The basic principles involved in the transfer of heat are defined in the physical laws of thermodynamics. Essentially, these laws state that heat will always pass from a hotter body to a cooler body until it reaches equilibrium. It follows that, for heat transfer to take place, there must always be a temperature difference between the media. The heat lost by the hot medium is equal to the amount of heat gained by the cold medium, except for losses to the surroundings. This last point is very pertinent when considering ways to improve the efficiency of heat exchangers, particularly in district heating and air conditioning systems.
There are two main types of heat exchanger for use in industrial and energy applications: a direct heat exchanger, where both media are in direct contact with each other but not mixed together an indirect heat exchanger, where both media are separated by a plate through which heat is transferred.
SPX FLOW brand APV invented the plate heat exchanger in 1923 and has continued to pioneer the technology to this day. Currently, APV heat transfer solutions are used for cooling, heating, condensing and evaporation of process fluids and for utility applications in a vast array of industries, ranging from food and beverage to oil & gas and industrial processes. With such a range of applications, it is no surprise that heat exchangers are available in many different formats – from high-capacity, heavy-duty units to small, compact designs – and are available either as standard units or as customized solutions.
Optimizing productivity is always going to be a central driver in industrial applications, so companies like APV are constantly seeking ways of making heat exchanger technology more reliable for longer.
Energy efficiency is also a primary focus. For industrial and commercial users of heat transfer equipment, this is no longer simply a question of driving down costs by reducing energy bills: it is increasingly part of demonstrating corporate social responsibility and proving that your business is committed to behaving responsibly by minimizing its environmental impacts.
One example of continued innovation is our MIRA Energy Saver, which combines innovations in design with improved performance in a smaller footprint. This new, ported plate heat exchanger features a superior ratio between plate thickness and pressure rating, making it more thermally efficient and cost-effective than previous equivalents. It uses a graduated chocolate box distribution that reduces the area required for heat transfer while also improving performance. An inter-plate locking system and new double clip gasket affixing system make the units simple and efficient to service. No specialist tools are required to maintain Energy Saver heat exchangers, minimizing downtime. Designed for a wide range of energy and industrial applications, MIRA Energy Savers can be used for hot/chilled water, central heating, water to water, and water to oil heat transfer and general heating and cooling duties.
Minimizing energy consumption through more efficient process heat recovery is critical to profitability in the face of increasing energy costs. Improving process performance and avoiding unscheduled stoppages can increase runtime. Both deliver immediate and significant cost savings that translate directly to the bottom line. The APV plate heat exchanger technology first pioneered almost 100 years ago continues to evolve and respond to the new challenges of the 21st century, delivering operational and energy efficiencies to improve the bottom line for global industrial customers.