One benefit of the hairpin exchanger is its ability to handle high tubeside pressures at a lower cost than other removable-bundle exchangers. This is due in part to the lack of pass partitions at the tubesheets which complicate the gasketing design process. Present mechanical design technology has allowed the building of dependable, removable-bundle, hairpin multitubes at tubeside pressures of 825 bar (i2,000 psi).
The best known use of the hairpin is its operation in true counter-current flow which yields the most efficient design for processes that have a close temperature approach or temperature cross. However, maintaining countercurrent flow in a tubular heat exchanger usually implies one tube pass for each shell pass. As recently as 30 years ago, the lack of inexpensive, multiple-tube pass capability often diluted the advantages gained from countercurrent flow.
The early attempts to solve this problem led to investigations into the area of heat transfer augmentation. This familiarity with augmentation techniques inevitably led to improvements in the efficiency and capacity of the small heat exchangers. The result has been the application of the hairpin heat exchanger to the solution of unique process problems, such as dependable, once-through, convective boilers offering high-exit qualities, especially in cases of process-temperature crosses.
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