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Application Spotlight: Batch Process Water Heating

Thermal Products Inc was asked to design a Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger within a certain footprint as it needed to fit within our customer’s packaged heating system. We offered to design and build an all 316 Stainless Steel Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger, but our customer requested 304 Stainless Steel Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger instead. Our customer also requested the tube side connections of our shell & tube heat exchanger to be Tri Clamp connections for ease of cleaning the heat exchanger.

The design parameters for the project were to heat 300 gallons of process water from 60 degrees Celsius to 80 degrees Celsius in 15 minutes or less. Our customer’s control package needed to maintain tight temperature control with a +/- .5 degrees Celsius discharge temperature variance for their exacting process downstream. The circulating process water flow rate for each batch will be 120 gallons per minute (GPM)

The 304 Stainless Steel Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger was designed to be a 08024, Type BEU with 304 stainless steel tubes and a 2-pass tube side design. The thermal duty was achieved using 387 lb/hr of steam and was built to ASME Code Section 8, division 1 and TEMA C.

Thermal Products sales and design engineers can design a fully customized heat exchanger to your exacting specifications or an "off the shelf" design for quick shipment and installation.  Thermal Products can supply the heat exchanger alone or integrate it into a skidded package with controls, valves and pump(s) on a skid enabling a more "plug and play" design, significantly reducing our customers installation costs.

Contact us today to discuss your application!

The use of a low finned tube within a shell and tube exchanger is an excellent solution for increasing efficiencies in the cooling or heating of gases and liquids.  When space on your lube oil console or fuel conditioning skid is at a premium, see how Thermal Products can offer a smaller shell and tube exchanger design, using low finned tubes reducing the heat exchanger overall footprint and offering considerable potential to save in terms of materials and heat exchanger fill volumes.

The wide range of dimensions offered by Thermal Products Inc makes these products perfect for a broad scope of applications for oil/gas coolers in consoles, machinery and plant processes.

Low finned tubes increase that outside surface area. By having a finned tube in place, it increases the overall heat transfer rate. This then decreases the total number of tubes required for a given application which then also reduces overall equipment size and can in the long-run decrease the cost of the project.  

Applications Thermal Products has designed low finned tubes within our shell and tube exchangers.

  • Power Generation
  • Oil and Gas Productions
  • LNG NGL LPG Plants
  • Refining
  • Petrochemical and Chemical Processing

Benefits of Low Finned Tubes:

  • Offers 2.5-3 times the external surface area of bare tube
  • Enhanced heat exchanger efficiency means less tube is required to accomplish the same heat transfer as a bare tube
  • Low finned tube can increase the performance of an existing exchanger without the difficult and expensive task of building new shells etc
  • Reduced space and weight can be extremely valuable in offshore production or high elevation distillation columns. Low finned technology can transform large shell and tube exchangers into compact heat exchangers

Contact our team today to discuss your application!

Thermal Products was asked to replace “In Kind” an older all 316L stainless steel Type BEM with vertical installation at a local food additives company. The existing unit was an 26” x 120” BEMV 316L/304L with 16 passes on the tube side.

Thermal Products was asked to provide an updated performance data sheet, ASME Code Calculations and engineering drawing. When the ASME Code Calculations were completed it was realized that the ASME Code requirements now required an expansion joint to be employed on the shell side. Because this was a “Drop in Replacement” project, meaning all pertinent dimensions needed to be held from the existing to the new installation, the addition of an expansion joint created a small challenge for us to maintain the critical dimensions. The Thermal Products team was not only able to incorporate the expansion joint while meeting ASME code requirements but also our customer need to maintain thermal performance and dimensional requirements.

The construction of the sanitary heat exchanger was as follows:

• 316L stainless steel tubes, tube sheets and heads
• 304L stainless steel balance
• Product surfaces were polished to 32u-inch Ra finish
• Exterior was polished to 40 Ra finish
• Tri-clamp product connection
• Hinged head cover for easy access to tube side for cleaning
• Garlock Gylon 3522 gaskets for food use
• Support legs for vertical installation
• Insulation jacket for outer shell
• Designed to TEMA C guidelines
• ASME Code Stamped

Thermal Products was also asked to provide the equipment dossier that included the following documents:

• Final Arrangement Drawing
• Design specification sheet
• ASME Code data report
• Weld Procedures (WPS, PQR, and WPQ)
• Weld log
• Welder qualification records
• Q350 R4 Visual Weld inspection
• Passivation certification
• Surface finish certification
• ElectroPolish certification
• Material Test Reports (MTR’s)
• Gasket certificate
• Insulation safety data sheet
• Hydro Test Certification
• ASME Code Calculations
• Unit ID plate

Whether your application is new or replacement, the Thermal Products team stands ready to assist you with your heat exchanger design from start to finish.

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Please contact us today to discuss your project!

Thermal Products Inc Optimizes Heat Exchanger Process and Cost Effectiveness for Each Heat Exchanger Application

Process applications involving heat transfer can take optimal advantage of design nuances to achieve the right balance of suitability for the duty and cost effectiveness. Many times, the fluid properties in terms of corrosiveness, volatility, the presence of solids and fouling properties predetermine the type of exchanger specified within a given process. Other considerations such as accessibility for cleaning, footprint, temperature approach or capital cost dictates the final specification. At some point, the design engineer must strike a balance between the subjective and objective, between the optimal in process and the cost of construction and ease of maintenance.

Look first at the process, then at the heat exchanger

Suitability for the application must first be determined by asking the right questions. While not a simple process, as such an analysis is often laden with potential trade-offs, this exercise will effectively eliminate some designs that fail to meet the base demands of the application that cannot be compromised. Only after the operational and process considerations are clearly understood can one begin to narrow in on an appropriate heat exchanger specification. A full-service heat exchanger manufacturer should be expected to provide both thermal and mechanical design, assuring that the finished product takes operational requirements into account. Some manufactures employ sophisticated thermal modeling software that can accurately predict heat release curves and multi-phase performance. Full service manufacturers offer thermal performance guarantees.

Some of the questions answered during the evaluation are:

• Is this application one that cannot tolerate interstream or cross contamination leakage?
• Are either of the fluids toxic, corrosive or lethal if exposed to the atmosphere?
• Are there operational advantages in achieving low approach temperatures?
• Does the process lend itself to heat recovery? Is there a high value attached to this?
• Is this a batch operation? What is the cost benefit from rapid batch cycling?
• Do either of the fluids contain solids and what size?
• What is the maximum temperature or pressure that either stream could reach in operation?
• Are there fluctuations in the flows or temperatures that could result in thermal expansion?
• Are either of the fluids high fouling, requiring frequent service of the exchanger?
• Are there space limitations that cannot be avoided without high construction cost?
• Is sufficient plant cooling water available? Is cooling with air an option?

Fluid Property Considerations - Critical Fluids

• Critical fluids such as corrosive, expensive or lethal fluids should be positively contained. TEMA Type BEM, AEM and NEN are welded and have no gaskets or packing inside the shell. The tube side can be cleaned mechanically, but the shell side must be cleaned chemically as the bundle is fixed. Avoid the use of internally or externally packed floating head designs for volatile or toxic shell side fluids.
• In sanitary, lethal or explosive applications, it is common to place the critical fluid inside the tubes, regardless of other considerations. In such cases shell and tube exchangers are typically specified with high-alloy materials and/or 3a polished surface finish. Mechanical and electropolish techniques are acceptable. Exchangers can be manufactured with clad tube sheets in large diameters and solid in smaller diameters.
• To reduce tube to tube sheet joint failures, specify that the tube sheet holes be reamed and polished to prevent any material presence during the tube expanding operation.
• In lethal service, specify strength welding, not seal welding of the tube joint. A proper strength weld is not a surface weld, but adds material where the tube end is set slightly in from the tube sheet surface. It is designed to withstand the full operating pressure without expanding the tube. Light expanding is typically performed only to prevent liquid from entering the crevice formed between the tube OD and tube sheet.
• An outside packed floating head exchanger is designed so that only the shell side fluid is exposed to the packing, allowing critical, toxic or volatile fluids to pass though the tube side.
• In plate heat exchangers, semi-welded designs eliminate 90% of the required gasket area on the critical side and therefore provides a measure of containment of one of the circuits while allowing the other to be opened for periodic maintenance.
• Fully welded plate heat exchangers should be specified for lethal, penetrating or critical fluid applications or where gasket material contact is not acceptable. Fully welded plate exchangers are often specified for ammonia evaporation due to the high performance and containment characteristics.

Fluid Property Considerations - Fluids with Solids

• Shell and tube exchangers can be specified with larger flow passages to accommodate a certain amount of solids or particulate without fouling or clogging.
• Plate exchangers can be specified with flow passages having wide annular spaces and minimal contact points instead of the common herringbone or chevron pattern. This design allows passing of slurries or fluid with solids and fibers, typically at the expense of operating pressure.
• When cooling high volumes of gas, enhanced high-fin tubing or plate fin bundles increase the heat transfer coefficient in the shell side while maintaining a low pressure loss. Plate-fin bundles provide superior thermal performance due to the increased effective surface and provide longer service life due to the continual tube support throughout the bundle. Divided-flow TEMA “J” shells can also be used to accommodate gas streams in the shell.

Viscous Fluids

• It is typical to place the viscous fluid in the shell circuit of a shell and tube where it is easier to enhance the heat transfer coefficient by manipulating the fluid velocity. Viscous fluids tend to enter laminar flow more readily when placed in the tube side, but is often necessary to achieve very low pressure loss requirements.

Pressure and Temperature

• In applications with thermal expansion or contraction, specify a u-tube or floating tube sheet design.
• It is customary to place high temperature liquids on the shell side to eliminate the presence of gaskets or packing.
• Depending on the fluid viscosity, to achieve low pressure drop for a process fluid, place the flow inside the tube circuit.
• For cooling gas, to achieve low pressure drop, specify a plate fin tube bundle instead of traditional bare or enhanced tube surfaces.

Temperature Approach and Crossing

• It is economically viable to achieve an approach temperature of no less than 10°F in counter-current flow, single pass shell and tube heat exchangers.
• To achieve closer approach performance, or some amount of temperature crossing, a plate exchanger should be specified.

Sanitary Designs for Fine Chemicals, Foods and Pharmaceuticals

• Double tube sheet designs prevent interstream or cross contamination leakage if there is a failure of the inner tube to tube sheet joint. Joint failure results in shell side fluid leaking to atmosphere. A retaining collar can be installed to collect any fluid from the failed joint.
• Double wall shell and tube and plate designs are available for the prevention of interstream contamination. Although there is metal to metal contact, some loss of thermal conductivity should be expected.
• Sanitary designs for plate exchangers include polished plates and sanitary fluid ports. Plate designs allow rapid disassembly to expose both process streams for mechanical cleaning, but it is customary to provide Clean-In-Place systems in such applications.

Cleanability and Service

• Generally, place corrosive or high fouling fluids through the tube circuit with straight tube designs to facilitate mechanical cleaning. Non-fouling fluids can be processed through the tube circuits of u-tube designs.
• Shell and tube exchangers can be manufactured with “A” type heads where the tube side ports are radial and the cover plate is bolted to the channel with heavy-duty hinges. This allows quick access to the tube side without disturbing any connective piping. Because of the “A” heads, tube cleaning can also be accomplished in TEMA type AEW designs without disturbing any connective piping.
• It is easier to detect tube leaks on the tube side of shell and tube exchangers. Rupture disks are typically placed on the shell side to indicate a pressure change that can be indicative of a tube failure.
• For applications where complete drainability for service or process fluid changes is required, place the critical fluid in the tube circuit. Shell side drainability can be enhanced by the use of drain plugs between notched baffles. Drainage is typically enhanced by purging the shell with compressed air. In some cases, the exchanger can be mounted at a 3-5° slope to facilitate tube side draining.
• Tube side drainability of multi-pass heads can be accomplished by installing a drain plug that straddles the vertical pass rib inside the head, allowing access to both hemispheres. Sanitary units demand self-drainability without removing the heads.
• For applications requiring shell side access for mechanical cleaning, avoid exchangers with both tube sheets welded to the shell because only chemical cleaning is possible. Instead specify one of the removable bundle designs with a square tube pitch to allow brushing between tube rows.
• For plate and frame models, glueless, snap-in or clip-on gasketed plates can be cleaned or regasketed without removing the plate from the frame, however for high-fouling duties, where the plate pack must be opened frequently for cleaning, the glued gasket may reduce overall service costs.

Equipment Cost

• Use the entire available pressure drop to maximize the fluid velocity and thereby the heat transfer rate.
• Specify commercial standard designs where applicable. Apply ASME U or UM Stamp for applications or insurance regulations that require code inspection.
• Specify TEMA Type BEM, AEM and NEN when other considerations are met. This straight tube, all welded design is the least complex and costly and provides the maximum tube count for a given shell diameter. Type NEN exchangers have the shell and the head welded directly to the tube sheet and are the lowest cost.
• There is a hybrid TEMA type design available that features a removable bundle but uses O-rings to seal the floating end. This reduces the unit cost provided the O-ring elastomer is compatible with the shell side process fluid, operating pressure and temperature.
• An externally sealed floating head exchanger is less costly than the full internal floating head design, but both the tube side and shell side fluids must be non-volatile and non-toxic.
• In shell and tube exchangers undergoing thermal expansion and contraction, the lowest cost selection is a U-tube design, but mechanical cleanability of the u-bends is difficult and individual tube replacement is not possible for inner tubes. The next step in terms of cost is the TEMA type AES, which has a full tube count, but requires more labor to pull the tube bundle for service. The highest cost alternative is the TEMA type AET, which sacrifices some tube surface to allow room for the internal floating head, but is easier to service.
• Placing high-pressure gas or liquids on the tube side can reduce cost by eliminating the need for a heavy wall shell to retain the operating pressure.
• Apply fouling factors to thermal calculations judiciously as small factor increases result in large effective surface requirements.

The Bottom Line

Once these operational considerations have been addressed and understood, Thermal Products Inc can better focus on the actual exchanger specification. There are three classes of shell and tube exchangers available. The lowest cost option is to select a commercial standard design. Many are available off-the-shelf or very quickly as the engineering and components are standardized. Many are available to 12” in diameter and in a variety of materials and Code options. A few manufacturers offer modified designs that are standardized to 42” in diameter at lower cost than traditional TEMA equipment. For more demanding requirements, specify one of the TEMA designs. These are typically available through 60” in diameter. Beyond these are fully customized heat exchangers that tightly incorporate sophisticated thermal and mechanical modeling to provide a “solution” approach.

Shell and Tube versus Plate Technology

One of the fundamental choices involves the use of shell and tube versus plate technology. While this is an involved subject, some basic differentiations are readily available.

• Plate exchangers can be gasketed, welded, semi-welded or brazed. Each has its own advantages and limitations.
• Plate materials include stainless steel, Titanium, Titanium-Palladium, SMO-254, Incolloy, Nickel, Hastelloy, Monel, Inconel and Tantalum.
• Gasketed plate exchangers allow users to open and clean both fluid surfaces. Semi-welded models allow cleaning of one of the fluids. Welded and brazed exchangers are full contained and can only be chemically cleaned.
• Plate exchangers have flow characteristics that cause high fluid turbulence at lower fluid velocities, breaking up the boundary layer and effecting very high heat transfer rates.
• Gasketed plate exchangers are limited to around 300 psi at 450°F. Gaskets are available for compatibility with virtually any process fluid, but engineered resin gaskets can significantly add to the cost of the exchanger.
• The flow channels between plates can be narrow with many contact points to increase thermal efficiency, or wide with few or no contact points to facilitate the passing of solids of fibers.
• As plate packs can be expanded, a designer can anticipate future process requirements and incorporate an upgrade path as conditions change. Because fluid velocity decreases as plates are added in parallel, some loss in the overall heat transfer rate can be expected to occur, so future expansion needs should account for this factor.

For applications cooling compressed gas, or for operating at high pressure or temperature, or where reduced maintenance costs associated with gaskets is desired, for many industrial duties, shell and tube technology is still the best direction.

With heat removal requirements, and the emphasis on close control and recovery of heat energy in chemical processing installations, it is prudent for a plant designer to establish ongoing relationships with experts in the discipline. Ideally, one should have the ability to objectively evaluate the differences between given shell and tube options and even between shell and tube and plate alternatives. Seeking a manufacturer that offers all of the options available enhances this objectivity that can equate to the best solution being applied to the requirement.

With API Heat Transfer

Thermal Products has arrived at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. stop by to see Scott D Robinson and the Advantage Engineering Team at booth #645!


Thermal Products Inc, will be participating at the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) & Brew Expo America in our nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., together with our partners Advantage Engineering and Enerquip Heat Exchangers

This annual event allows exhibitors and buyers to develop profitable business relationships and helps brewing and brewery restaurant professionals encounter the latest and best products and services that industry vendors have to offer.

We’ll be there to show ours!

Please visit Scott Robinson of Thermal Products and our partners at the booth locations below.

Advantage Engineering Booth #645

Enerquip Heat Exchangers Booth #2002

Have you noticed decreased efficiency from your heat exchanger or circulation heater? So much so that your process is now operating out of acceptable temperature, pressure drop or flow range? You are most likely having significant fouling issues.

The most common reasons heat exchangers don’t provide the heat transfer rate they were designed for or have increased pressure drop from occlusion, is what we call fouling. Fouling is the buildup of sediments, mineral calcification and/or debris from the process that settles onto the surface area of a heat exchanger or circulation heater.

During the design stage, Thermal Products will inquire about specific process media makeup and the cooling or heating media. Thermal Products will ask you about the suspended solids, mineral content, and chemical content along with the typical needs of flow rate, heat load and temperatures in and out of the heat exchanger. With the provided information the Thermal Products design engineers will take into account the appropriate fouling factor to maximize the lifespan of the heat exchanger or preventative maintenance interval, reducing unexpected costs for the plant. The fouling factor essentially increases the surface area, over and above what is needed in order to perform the required heat load duty.

What are the different types of fouling?

Scaling is one of the most common types of fouling. Minerals and Salts commonly found in natural waters have a lower solubility in warm water than cold. Therefore, when cooling water is heated during the cooling process, particularly at the tube wall or plate wall, these dissolved salts will crystallize on the surface in the form of scale.


Thermal Products will design a heat exchanger or circulation heater with a lower tube temperature or watt density respectively, reducing the tube wall or element temperature. The Thermal Products design engineers will also look at process velocities through the heat exchanger or circulation heater, as slower velocities can exacerbate the problem.

This is noticed typically in the use of cold well water or open cooling tower applications.

Sedimentation, is the depositing of dirt, sand, rust, and other small debris and is most common when fresh water is used. This type of fouling typically leads to the heat exchanger or circulation heater becoming impacted and will completed occlude the flow, if left untreated. This can be controlled to a degree by the heat exchanger design through velocity control, but need to be careful as increasing the velocity too much will lead to erosion of your tubes or elements. Thermal Products will also design and offer upstream filtration or straining equipment to assist in removal of this type of debris before it gets to the heat exchanger or circulation heater.

If your process is sensitive, Thermal Products can design a closed-loop heating or closed-loop cooling process to eliminate the issues of sedimentation fouling completely.

Biological/Organic growth material typically occurs in marine, chemical, or bioorganic applications and can cause considerable damage if allowed to build up. Thermal Products can design a heat exchanger or circulation heater that can be resistant to biological fouling or organic fouling using different materials and design considerations.

Chemical Reaction Coking appears in oil heating applications, where the heat exchanger tubes or circulation heater elements are too hot. When the oil comes in contact, it burns the oil and deposits the resulting hydrocarbon on the heating surface. If left and the situation is not corrected, it will lead to premature failure of the heat exchanger or circulation heater. All oils are susceptible to Coking, but at a wide range of temperatures, dependent on the oil type.

As in mineral Scaling, Thermal Products will require the type of oil used so we can determine its flash point, thermal conductivity, specific heat and specific gravity so we design the proper heat exchanger or circulation heater.

Heat Exchanger and Circulation heater design are far more involved than looking at fouling, but it is an important factor to include when performing the design.

Any fouling, left untreated will result in the failure of that heat exchanger or circulation heater. The failure can be catastrophic in some cases.

As touched on earlier, Thermal Products can reduce the fouling possibilities greatly, by “closing the loop” if fouling is a chronic problem for your process. Thermal Products can design a Chiller, Closed loop cooling, closed loop heating or offer fired process heaters to perform the heating or cooling as your process dictates.


Contact any member of the Thermal Products team to discuss your process needs.

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