General Design Considerations

Selection of Flow Path In selecting the flow path for two fluids through an exchanger, several general approaches are used. The tubeside fluid is more corrosive or dirtier or at a higher pressure. The shell-side fluid is a liquid of high viscosity or a gas.

When alloy construction for one of the two fluids is required, a carbon steel shell combined with alloy tube-side parts is less expensive than alloy in contact with the shell-side fluid combined with carbon steel headers.

Cleaning of the inside of tubes is more readily done than cleaning of exterior surfaces.

For gauge pressures in excess of 2068 kPa (300 lbf/in2) for one of the fluids, the less expensive construction has the high-pressure fluid in the tubes.

For a given pressure drop, higher heat-transfer coefficients are obtained on the shell side than on the tube side.

Heat-exchanger shutdowns are most often caused by fouling, corrosion, and erosion.

Construction Codes "Rules for Construction of Pressure Vessels, Division 1," which is part of Section VIII of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), serves as a construction code by providing minimum standards. New editions of the code are usually issued every 3 years. Interim revisions are made semiannually in the form of addenda. Compliance with ASME Code requirements is mandatory in much of the United States and Canada. Originally these rules were not prepared for heat exchangers. However, the welded joint between tube sheet and shell of the fixed-tube-sheet heat exchanger is now included. A nonmandatory appendix on tube-to-tube-sheet joints is also included. Additional rules for heat exchangers are being developed.

Standards of Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association, 6th ed., 1978 (commonly referred to as the TEMA Standards), serve to supplement and define the ASME Code for all shell-and-tube-type heat-exchanger applications (other than double-pipe construction). TEMA Class R design is "for the generally severe requirements of petroleum and related processing applications. Equipment fabricated in accordance with these standards is designed for safety and durability under the rigorous service and maintenance conditions in such applications." TEMA Class C design is "for the generally moderate requirements of commercial and general process applications," while TEMA Class B is "for chemical process service."

The mechanical-design requirements are identical for all three classes of construction. The differences between the TEMA classes are minor and were listed by Rubin [Hydrocarbon Process., 59,92 (June 1980)].

Among the topics of the TEMA Standards are nomenclature, fabrication tolerances, inspection, guarantees, tubes, shells, baffles and support plates, floating heads, gaskets, tube sheets, channels, nozzles, end flanges and bolting, material specifications, and fouling resistances.

Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers for General Refinery Services, API Standard 660, 4th ed., 1982, is published by the American Petroleum Institute to supplement both the TEMA Standards and the ASME Code. Many companies in the chemical and petroleum processing fields have their own standards to supplement these various requirements. The Interrelationships between Codes, Standards, and Customer Specifications for Process Heat Transfer Equipment is a symposium volume which was edited by F. L. Rubin and published by ASmE in December 1979. (See discussion of pressure-vessel codes in Sec. 6.)

Design pressures and temperatures for exchangers usually are specified with a margin of safety beyond the conditions expected in service. Design pressure is generally about 172 kPa (25 lbf/in) greater than the maximum expected during operation or at pump shutoff. Design temperature is commonly 14° C (25° F) greater than the maximum temperature in service.

Tube Bundle Vibration Damage from tube vibration has become an increasing problem as plate baffled heat exchangers are designed for higher flow rates and pressure drops. The most effective method of dealing with this problem is the avoidance of cross flow by use of tube support baffles which promote only longitudinal flow. However, even then, strict attention must be given the bundle area under the shell inlet nozzle where flow is introduced through the side of the shell. TEMA has devoted an entire section in its standards to this topic. In general, the mechanisms of tube vibration are as follows:

Vortex Shedding The vortex-shedding frequency of the fluid in cross-flow over the tubes may coincide with a natural frequency of the tubes and excite large resonant vibration amplitudes.

Fluid-Elastic Coupling Fluid flowing over tubes causes them to vibrate with a whirling motion. The mechanism of fluid-elastic coupling occurs when a "critical" velocity is exceeded and the vibration then becomes self-excited and grows in amplitude. This mechanism frequently occurs in process heat exchangers which suffer vibration damage.

Pressure Fluctuation Turbulent pressure fluctuations which develop in the wake of a cylinder or are carried to the cylinder from upstream may provide a potential mechanism for tube vibration. The tubes respond to the portion of the energy spectrum that is close to their natural frequency.

Acoustic Coupling When the shell-side fluid is a low-density gas, acoustic resonance or coupling develops when the standing waves in the shell are in phase with vortex shedding from the tubes. The standing waves are perpendicular to the axis of the tubes and to the direction of cross-flow. Damage to the tubes is rare. However, the noise can be extremely painful.

Testing Upon completion of shop fabrication and also during maintenance operations it is desirable hydrostatically to test the shell side of tubular exchangers so that visual examination of tube ends can be made. Leaking tubes can be readily located and serviced. When leaks are determined without access to the tube ends, it is necessary to reroll or reweld all the tube-to-tube-sheet joints with possible damage to the satisfactory joints.

Testing for leaks in heat exchangers was discussed by Rubin [Chem. Eng., 68,160-166 (July 24, 1961)].

Performance testing of heat exchangers is described in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Standard Testing Procedure for Heat Exchangers, Sec. 1. "Sensible Heat Transfer in Shell-and-Tube-Type Equipment."

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  • federico
    What is the difference between tema exchanger classes Rubin Hydrocarbon process 1980 59?
    8 years ago

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