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Why Are Shell And Tube Heat Exchangers Preferred?


Operating plants that need to heat and cool various chemicals in their process operations have many types of heat exchangers from which to choose. Knowledgeable operating plants rely on their past experiences with various types of heat exchangers to determine which of those best fits their processing needs and gives them the performance to meet their objectives while offering the best maintenance alternatives.

Many of the advantages of one type of heat exchanger over another type are obvious to a knowledgeable operating plant while many other advantages are much more subtle. 

The obvious advantages of shell and tube heat exchangers over other types such as plate and frame heat exchangers whether gasketed or all welded, hairpin, spiral, or block heat exchangers are as follows:

  • Many more shell and tube heat exchangers exist which allow for the ease of securing competitive bids. The number of so-called specialty heat exchangers Is relatively small making competitive bidding more difficult
  • The ease of performing maintenance at the plant on the shell and tube heat exchanger. Specialty heat exchangers quite often require sending them back to the factory for repair and many are located overseas.
  • The local shops in many areas specialize in the repair of shell and tube heat exchangers, only repairs and are numerous.   

The more subtle advantages of shell and tube heat exchangers over the many other various types are as follows:

  • The “specialty” heat exchangers are much more fragile than the beefy shell and tube heat exchangers and are subject to unintentional damage by overzealous, heavy-handed plant mechanics in their daily duties.
  • They have far fewer gaskets utilized and lead to a less expensive maintenance cost when repairs are necessary.
  • Upset process conditions cause less damage to a shell & tube heat exchanger as opposed to the operating capabilities of “specialty” heat exchangers. Quite often, the operating efficiency of these “specialty” heat exchangers is reduced far more drastically by process upsetting conditions resulting in fouling, plating, and unintended thermal shock and thermal differential expansion. These can cause excessive fouling and even failure.
  • All heat exchangers are subject to problems that plague their performance of them, even the shell and tube heat exchanger. Only the Niche Fluoropolymer shell and tube heat exchanger are exempt from any of these problems. The 100% fluoropolymer tube side construction of the Niche Fluoropolymer shell and tube heat exchangers is never affected by fouling as the non-stick tubes never foul, it is never affected by thermal shock or differential thermal expansion. Knowledgeable chemical processing realizes that if they are processing harsh highly corrosive chemicals that foul, plate out, or cause thermal shock and differential thermal expansion, their best option to ensure a long heat exchanger life and ensure limited maintenance requirements, they should opt for Niche Fluoropolymer shell and tube heat exchanger to obtain these advantages. Using any other heat exchanger will leave them wanting.
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