Plate Heat Exchanger Design

How to Design a Plate Heat Exchanger — Plate Heat Exchanger Design

This article will explore the key steps and elements involved in plate heat exchanger design. From plate-type heat exchangers to gasket arrangements, we’ve got you covered.

Plate heat exchangers are widely used in various industries for efficient heat transfer between two fluids. Designing a Plate Heat Exchanger (PHE) involves carefully considering multiple factors, including the working principle, software design tools, required parameters, design procedure, gasket material selection, plate material selection, and adherence to industry standards to ensure efficient heat transfer.

Aspects of Plate Heat Exchanger Designs

A plate heat exchanger’s working principle involves transferring heat between two fluids by utilizing a series of corrugated plates. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the process:


♦ Fluid Flow: The two fluids, typically hot and cold, enter the heat exchanger through separate inlet ports. These fluids flow on opposite sides of the plates, creating a counterflow or parallel flow arrangement.


♦ Plate Design: The plates in a plate heat exchanger design have corrugations or chevron patterns. These patterns serve multiple purposes. Firstly, they create turbulence in the fluid flow, promoting better mixing and enhancing heat transfer efficiency. Secondly, they increase the effective surface area of the plates in the plate heat exchanger, allowing for more significant heat transfer.


♦ Heat Transfer: As the fluids flow on either side of the plates, heat is exchanged through the plate material. The hot fluid transfers its thermal energy to the plate, then conducts it to the cold liquid on the opposite side. The turbulence generated by the plate design facilitates efficient heat transfer by minimizing the boundary layer thickness and maximizing the contact between the fluids and the plates.


♦ Flow Arrangements: Plate heat exchangers can operate in different flow arrangements, including parallel and counterflow. Similarly, the hot and cold fluids flow in the same direction, entering the heat exchanger at one end and exiting at the other. However, the fluids flow in opposite directions in counterflow, enhancing the overall heat transfer efficiency.


♦ Compact Design: Plate heat exchangers are known for their compact and space-saving design. The stacked arrangement of multiple plates allows for a large surface area within a relatively small footprint. This compactness makes plate heat exchangers an attractive choice in limited-space applications.


Overall, a plate heat exchanger’s working principle involves transferring heat between two fluids through a specially designed heat exchanger plate. The ridged patterns on the plates promote turbulence and increase the effective surface area, enabling efficient heat transfer. This working principle and the compact plate heat exchanger design make it highly efficient and versatile for various industrial applications.

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Plate-type heat exchanger design software tools play a crucial role in plate heat exchanger design, offering precise calculations and optimization capabilities to determine the required parameters and optimize the overall design. These tools assist in achieving maximum heat transfer effectiveness while minimizing size and cost.


♦ Design Parameters of plate heat exchanger: Software tools help calculate important plate heat exchanger design parameters such as heat load, fluid flow rates, temperature differences, and pressure drops. These parameters provide a basis for the subsequent design calculations.


♦ Inputting Operating Conditions and Fluid Properties: The software requires the input of the desired operating conditions, including heat transfer rate, inlet/outlet temperatures, and fluid properties (e.g., specific heat capacity, density, viscosity). These inputs guide the design calculations.


♦ Optimization Process: Based on the input data, the software performs calculations and simulations to optimize the design. It determines the number of plates, plate dimensions, and flow arrangement to achieve efficient heat transfer. The software considers heat transfer effectiveness, pressure drop, and overall efficiency.


♦ Size and Cost Optimization: The software aims to minimize the size and cost of the heat exchanger while meeting performance requirements. By optimizing the design parameters, the software ensures efficient heat transfer while reducing material usage and associated costs.


♦ Iterative Process: Design using software tools often involves an iterative approach. Engineers can modify input parameters and observe changes in the design output, allowing for flexibility and fine-tuning to meet specific requirements.


In summary, plate-type heat exchanger design software tools streamline the plate heat exchanger design process by providing accurate calculations and optimization capabilities. They help determine the required parameters, optimize the design for maximum heat transfer effectiveness, and minimize the size and cost of the heat exchanger. This ensures efficient and cost-effective methods for various industrial applications.

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The design parameters of plate heat exchangers include heat load, fluid flow rates, temperature differences, and plate heat exchanger design pressure loss.


♦ Heat Load: The heat load or heat transfer rate is the amount of thermal energy that needs to be transferred between the fluids in a plate-type heat exchanger. It is typically expressed in kilowatts (kW) or British thermal units per hour (BTU/hr). The specific application and the desired temperature change of the fluids determine the heat load.


♦ Fluid Flow Rates: The flow rates of the hot and cold fluids passing through the heat exchanger are crucial parameters to consider. The flow rates affect the heat transfer performance and the heat exchanger sizing. They are usually measured in volume per unit of time, such as liters per minute (LPM) or gallons per minute (GPM).


♦ Temperature Differences: The temperature difference, also known as the temperature approach or differential, refers to the temperature change between the hot and cold fluids as they pass through the plate heat exchanger. The temperature difference affects the heat transfer rate and efficiency. A minor temperature difference allows for higher heat transfer effectiveness.


♦ Pressure Loss: Pressure loss, also known as pressure drop, is the decrease in pressure experienced by the fluids as they flow through the plate heat exchanger. It is essential to consider pressure loss to ensure that the flow rates and forces within the system are maintained within acceptable limits. Excessive pressure loss can lead to inefficiency, reduced flow rates, or system failure. Pressure loss is typically measured in units of pressure, such as Pascals (Pa) or pounds per square inch (psi).


During the plate heat exchanger design process, these design parameters are considered to determine the appropriate size and configuration of the plate heat exchanger, including the number of plates, plate dimensions, and flow arrangement. Plate Heat Exchanger Design Software tools mentioned earlier can assist in calculating these design parameters and optimizing the heat exchanger design to achieve the desired heat transfer performance while considering pressure loss limitations.


By carefully considering the required parameters and pressure loss, the design of a plate heat exchanger can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the application, ensuring efficient heat transfer and optimal system performance.

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The design procedure for a plate heat exchanger is a systematic process that ensures optimal performance and efficiency. Here are the key steps involved:


  1. Calculate the duty: Determine the required rate of heat transfer based on the specific application of the plate heat exchanger.
  2. Heat balance: If any parameters are missing or incomplete, perform a heat balance to determine the unknown fluid temperature or flow rate.
  3. Calculate the log mean temperature difference (ΔTlm): This is a critical factor in determining the heat transfer effectiveness and efficiency of the heat exchanger.
  4. Determine the log mean temperature correction factor (Ft): Consider any temperature variations and corrections to calculate the corrected mean temperature difference (ΔTm) accurately.
  5. Calculate the required surface area: Based on the duty and heat transfer requirements, determine the surface area needed for effective heat transfer.
  6. Determine the number of plates: Divide the required surface area by the area of one plate to determine the appropriate number for the heat exchanger.
  7. Decide the flow arrangement and number of passes: Choose whether the flow will be parallel or counterflow and determine the number of passes required for efficient heat transfer.
  8. Calculate the film heat transfer coefficients: Determine the heat transfer coefficients for each fluid stream involved.
  9. Calculate the overall heat transfer coefficient: Consider factors such as fouling and thermal resistance to calculate the overall heat transfer coefficient.
  10. Compare calculated and assumed overall coefficients: Ensure that the estimated overall coefficient falls within an acceptable deviation range from the assumed value (typically -10% to +10%).
  11. Check pressure drop: Assess the pressure drop for each fluid stream to ensure it falls within acceptable limits.


By following this comprehensive design procedure, engineers can optimize the plate heat exchanger’s performance, ensuring efficient heat transfer, minimal pressure drop, and adherence to required specifications.

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Gasket material selection is a critical aspect of plate-type heat exchanger design that directly impacts its performance and reliability. The gaskets are a crucial seal between the plates, ensuring a tight and secure seal to prevent any leakage or cross-contamination between the fluids.


Various gasket materials are available for plate heat exchangers, with each material offering specific properties and benefits, which vary in plate heat exchangers design applications and performance. The selection of the appropriate gasket material depends on several factors, including:


♦ Fluid Compatibility: The gasket material must be compatible with the fluids processed in the heat exchanger. Different liquids have varying chemical compositions, pH levels, and corrosive properties. Therefore, choosing a gasket material that can withstand the specific fluid’s characteristics without degradation or chemical reactions is essential.

♦ Operating Temperature: The gasket material should be capable of withstanding the temperatures encountered during operation. Heat exchangers can handle a wide range of temperatures, from low to high, and the gasket material should maintain its sealing properties and structural integrity under these conditions.

♦ Pressure Conditions: The gasket material should withstand the pressure differentials within the heat exchanger. It should maintain a reliable seal even under high-pressure conditions to prevent any leakage or loss of efficiency.


Commonly used gasket materials in plate-type heat exchanger design include:


♦ Nitrile (NBR): NBR gaskets offer excellent resistance to oils, fuels, and hydrocarbons. They have good sealing properties and are suitable for applications involving non-aromatic hydrocarbons and water-based fluids.


♦ HNBR: HNBR gaskets offer improved resistance to chemicals, oils, and high temperatures compared to standard Nitrile (NBR) gaskets. They are particularly suitable for applications involving aggressive fluids, such as fuels, oils, and hydraulic fluids. HNBR gaskets provide excellent sealing properties and can withstand higher temperatures than NBR gaskets, making them suitable for demanding industrial environments.


♦ EPDM: EPDM gaskets exhibit exceptional resistance to aging, ozone, weathering, and chemicals. They are commonly used in hot water, steam, and many acids and alkalis applications.


♦ Viton: Viton gaskets resist high temperatures, chemicals, and corrosive fluids. They are commonly used in applications with aggressive liquids, such as acids, solvents, and oils.


During the plate heat exchanger design process, careful consideration of the fluid properties, operating conditions, and compatibility is necessary to select the most suitable gasket material. This ensures effective sealing, prevents fluid leakage, and maintains the overall efficiency and integrity of the plate heat exchanger system.

The selection of the appropriate plate material is crucial in plate heat exchanger design to ensure optimal performance, longevity, and compatibility with the operating conditions. Here are some key considerations and information regarding plate materials:


♦ Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is the preferred and widely used material for plate heat exchangers. It offers excellent thermal conductivity, ensuring efficient heat transfer between the fluids. In addition, stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance, making it suitable for various applications. It is also durable, easy to clean, and has good mechanical strength, allowing for reliable operation under varying pressures and temperatures. Different grades of stainless steel, such as 304, 316, or duplex stainless steel, may be chosen based on the specific requirements of the plate heat exchangers design applications and performance.


♦ Titanium: Titanium is a lightweight and highly corrosion-resistant metal that finds application in plate heat exchangers where superior resistance to aggressive fluids or environments is needed. It exhibits exceptional resistance to corrosion from chlorides, seawater, and various acids. As a result, titanium plates are commonly used in chemical processing, marine, and offshore applications. However, titanium is more expensive than stainless steel and may require specialized manufacturing techniques.


♦ Nickel Alloys: Certain applications may require nickel alloys, such as Hastelloy or Inconel, due to their exceptional corrosion resistance in highly aggressive or corrosive environments. Nickel alloys resist various acids, alkalis, and other corrosive substances, making them suitable for applications in chemical processing, petrochemical, and oil refining industries. However, they are typically more expensive than stainless steel and require careful consideration of compatibility with the fluids and operating conditions.


In addition to stainless steel, titanium, and nickel alloys, particular materials, such as SMO 254 and other high-performance alloys, are available for plate heat exchanger applications. Here’s more information on these materials:


SMO 254 (Austenitic Stainless Steel): SMO 254 is super austenitic stainless steel with exceptional corrosion resistance in highly corrosive environments, including chloride-rich media such as seawater and brine solutions. It exhibits superior resistance to pitting, crevice corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking. SMO 254 is commonly used in offshore oil and gas, chemical processing, and desalination plants where aggressive fluids and high chloride concentrations are present.


♦ Other Special Alloys: Depending on the specific application requirements, other special alloys may be utilized in plate heat exchangers. These alloys could include duplex stainless steels (e.g., SAF 2205), super duplex stainless steels (e.g., SAF 2507), and various high-performance alloys such as Incoloy, Inconel, or Monel. These materials provide enhanced resistance to corrosion, high temperatures, and challenging environments, making them suitable for specific industries and applications where standard materials may not suffice.


Factors such as fluid compatibility, operating temperature and pressure, corrosion resistance, mechanical strength, cost, and maintenance requirements should be evaluated when selecting the plate material. In addition, consulting with plate heat exchanger manufacturers or industry experts can provide valuable guidance in choosing the most suitable plate material for your specific application.

Plate heat exchangers are meticulously designed and manufactured in adherence to plate heat exchanger design standards, guaranteeing high quality, exceptional performance, and utmost safety. Compliance with recognized standards is crucial to ensure the reliability and efficiency of these heat exchangers. Here are some of the prominent industry standards followed in the design and fabrication of plate heat exchangers:


♦ American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME): ASME standards, particularly ASME Section VIII, establish guidelines for the design, fabrication, and inspection of pressure vessels, including plate heat exchangers. Compliance with ASME standards ensures the heat exchanger’s structural integrity, pressure capacity, and safety.


♦ Pressure Equipment Directive (PED): The PED is a European Union directive that outlines essential safety requirements for pressure equipment, including plate heat exchangers. It sets stringent criteria for design, manufacturing, and conformity assessment, ensuring the safety of equipment operating under pressure within the European market.


♦ TEMA (Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association) Standards: TEMA standards provide comprehensive guidelines for the design, construction, and installation of heat exchangers, including plate heat exchangers. TEMA standards cover various aspects, such as the mechanical design of plate heat exchangers, thermal performance, and material selection, offering a reliable framework for the manufacturing process.


♦ DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) Standards: DIN standards are widely recognized in Europe, particularly in Germany, for various industrial products and processes. DIN standards provide specifications for plate heat exchangers, encompassing aspects such as materials, dimensions, and performance requirements.


♦ Complying with these standards ensures that the plate heat exchanger is designed and fabricated to meet stringent structural integrity, pressure capability, heat transfer efficiency, and material compatibility criteria. In addition, adhering to industry standards instills confidence in the product’s quality, performance, and safety.


♦ When selecting a plate heat exchanger, it is essential to ensure that it meets the relevant industry standards applicable to your region or specific application. This helps guarantee the heat exchanger’s longevity, reliability, and optimal performance in your process system.


In summary, the plate heat exchanger design encompasses various crucial factors, including the working principle, software design tools, required parameters, design procedure, gasket and plate material selection, and adherence to industry standards. Plate heat exchangers can deliver exceptional performance and efficiency in various industrial applications by carefully considering these aspects.


If you have any further inquiries regarding how to design a plate heat exchanger or would like more information about plate heat exchangers, we invite you to contact HFM. Our team of experts is ready to assist you with any questions, provide detailed product information, and offer personalized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us and discover the benefits of our advanced plate heat exchanger technology.

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