Plateandframe Exchangers

There are two major types gasketed and welded-plate heat exchangers. Each shall be discussed individually.


Description This type is the fastest growing of the compact exchangers and the most recognized (see Fig. 11-49). A series of corrugated alloy material channel plates, bounded by elastomeric gaskets are hung off and guided by longitudinal carrying bars, then compressed by large-diameter tightening bolts between two pressure retaining frame plates (cover plates). The frame and channel plates have portholes which allow the process fluids to enter alternating flow passages (the space between two adjacent-channel plates). Gaskets around the periphery of the channel plate prevent leakage to the atmosphere and also prevent process fluids from coming in contact with the frame plates. No interfluid leakage is possible in the port area due to a dual-gasket seal.

The frame plates are typically epoxy-painted carbon-steel material and can be designed per most pressure vessel codes. Design limitations are in the Table 11-18. The channel plates are always an alloy material with 304SS as a minimum (see Table 11-18 for other materials).

Channel plates are typically 0.4 to 0.8 mm thick and have corrugation depths of 2 to 10 mm. Special Wide Gap (WG PHE) plates are available, in limited sizes, for slurry applications with depths of approximately 16 mm. The channel plates are compressed to achieve metal-to-metal contact for pressure-retaining integrity. These narrow gaps and high number of contact points which change fluid flow direction, combine to create a very high turbulence between the plates. This means high individual-heat-transfer coefficients (up to 14200 W/m2 °C), but also very high pressure drops per length as well. To compensate, the channel plate lengths are usually short, most under 2 and few over 3 meters in length. In general, the same pressure drops as conventional exchangers are used without loss of the enhanced heat transfer.

Expansion of the initial unit is easily performed in the field without special considerations. The original frame length typically has an additional capacity of 15-20 percent more channel plates (i.e., surface area). In fact, if a known future capacity is available during fabrication stages, a longer carrying bar could be installed, and later, increasing the surface area would be easily handled. When the expansion is needed, simply untighten the carrying bolts, pull back the frame plate, add the additional channel plates, and tighten the frame plate.

Applications Most PHE applications are liquid-liquid services but there are numerous steam heater and evaporator uses from their heritage in the food industry. Industrial users typically have chevron style channel plates while some food applications are washboard style.

Fine particulate slurries in concentrations up to 70 percent by weight are possible with standard channel spacings. Wide-gap units are used with larger particle sizes. Typical particle size should not exceed 75 percent of the single plate (not total channel) gap.

Close temperature approaches and tight temperature control possible with PHE's and the ability to sanitize the entire heat transfer surface easily were a major benefit in the food industry.

Multiple services in a single frame are possible.

Gasket selection is one of the most critical and limiting factors in PHE usage. Table 11-19 gives some guidelines for fluid compatibility. Even trace fluid components need to be considered. The higher the operating temperature and pressure, the shorter the anticipated gasket life. Always consult the supplier on gasket selection and obtain an estimated or guaranteed lifetime.

The major applications are, but not limited to, as follows:

Temperature cross applications (lean/rich solvent)

Close approaches (fresh water/seawater)

Plate Frame Heat Exchanger
FIG. 11-49 Plate-and-frame heat exchanger. Hot fluid flows down between alternate plates, and cold fluid flows up between alternate plates. (Thermal Division, Alfa-Laval, Inc. )

Viscous fluids Sterilized surface required Polished surface required Future expansion required Space restrictions Barrier coolant services Slurry applications


(food, pharmaceutical)

(latex, pharmaceutical)

iop c

(TiO2, Kaolin, precipitated calcium carbonate, and beet sugar raw juice)

Design Standard channel-plate designs, unique to each manufacturer, are developed with limited modifications of each plates' corrugation depths and included angles. Manufacturers combine their different style plates to custom-fit each service. Due to the possible combinations, it is impossible to present a way to exactly size PHEs. However, it is possible to estimate areas for new units and to predict performance of existing units with different conditions (chevron-type channel plates are presented).

The fixed length and limited corrugation included angles on channel plates makes the NTU method ofsizing practical. (Waterlike fluids are assumed for the following examples).

A t of either side LMTD

Most plates have NTU values of 0.5 to 4.0, with 2.0 to 3.0 as the most common, (multipass shell and tube exchangers are typically less than 0.75). The more closely the fluid profile matches that of the channel plate, the smaller the required surface area. Attempting to increase the service NTU beyond the plate's NTU capability causes oversur-facing (inefficiency).

True sizing from scratch is impractical since a pressure balance on a channel-to-channel basis, from channel closest to inlet to furthest, must be achieved and when mixed plate angles are used; this is quite a challenge. Computer sizing is not just a benefit, it is a necessity for supplier's selection. Averaging methods are recommended to perform any sizing calculations.

From the APV heat-transfer handbook—Design & Application of Paraflow-Plate Heat Exchangers and J. Marriott's article, "Where and How To Use Plate Heat Exchangers," Chemical Engineering, April 5, 1971, there are the following equations for plate heat transfer.

Nu = __ = 0.28 * (Re)0'65 * (Pr)04 k where De = 2 X depth of single-plate corrugation

Width of the plate (w) is measured from inside to inside of the channel gasket. If not available, use the tear-sheet drawing width and sub-

TABLE 11-18 Compact Exchanger Applications Guide

Design conditions

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  • gordon jones
    Where and how to use plate heat exchangers 1971?
    8 years ago

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