5 Ways a Plate Heat Exchanger Can Increase Efficiency
Sign Up for Maintenance Tips
Posted on Jan 10, 2022 9:45:00 AM by Penny Vander Velden | 4 min. read
Heat exchangers (more specifically, the variety that uses stackable plates) were first used to pasteurize milk back in the ’20s — and they’ve been increasing the efficiency of numerous industries ever since.
Here are five ways that a plate heat exchanger can increase efficiency and reduce downtime in your industry.
1. increase volume with minimal effort
Imagine this common scenario: You’re in the middle of running your normal production process, but you have an opportunity to produce higher volumes with some upgrades downstream of your heat exchanger. If you purchased a heat exchanger that’s large enough to handle the increase in volume, all you need to do is purchase additional plates and increase your capacity to accommodate this increase in volume.
A plate heat exchanger is designed to be modular. The unit is built with a series of large, fixed, frame guiding bars. This allows the number of plates to be easily added and subtracted. Each plate adds only to the length of the inlet and outlet holes, leaving the actual process of heat transfer unaffected.
Ultimately, this design allows your heat exchanger to grow with your business by adding plates to your frame as the demand for your volume increases.
2. Reduce the Risk of Cross-contamination
Plate heat exchangers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all of them use indirect contact during heat transfer. This allows the two fluids to be conveyed in their own tubes and separated by stainless steel plates and food-grade gaskets, helping to prevent the chance of pollution or cross-contamination.
In addition, the rate of fluid velocity is often high in these cases, so crosscurrent flow is an added bonus that compensates for any low approach temperature differences.
Since the fluids are traveling in opposite directions, the same two molecules never transfer heat for more than an instant.
3. Limit downtime and Safety Concerns
When you have to open a machine for inspection on standard heat exchanger frames, it can take hours and multiple people to manually go in and loosen the bolts (and then go back and tighten the bolts when it’s time to close). Thanks to the intuitive design of hydraulic frames, you’ll be in and out of your heat exchanger in minutes and not hours, reducing downtime-related losses.
On top of increasing operational efficiency, hydraulic frames can make your heat exchanger maintenance safer. Replacing gaskets on a tie bar or spindle frame heat exchanger can be a potentially dangerous, hands-on process; especially if you are short on labor or have inexperienced operators. With a hydraulic unit, you are removing the amount of physical labor required to perform necessary maintenance and can take comfort knowing your plant employees are safe during operations and the equipment is protected.
If you’re looking to make the switch but already have a twin-spindle frame, we can also custom-fit a hydraulic frame right on top — with no major investment required.
4. Foster a faster temperature exchange
Not that you need to be reminded, but a wide surface area allows for a faster temperature exchange. The layer of fluid passing through each plate is extremely thin, so it takes less energy to transfer heat than with a boiler. The troughs within each plate go one step further and separate the fluids into smaller channels, increasing the turbulent flow.
Each trough pattern on the market is said to have its own unique benefits, but that’s a decision that must be determined by your individual needs.
5. Cut Back on Costs and Wasted Energy
The call across all industries to promote the use of energy-efficient and sustainable systems has never been louder. We want to increase efficiency while reducing costs at the same time — a challenging, yet attainable goal.
The stacked-plate arrangement of a plate heat exchanger means that your costs are largely limited to the number of plates in your unit. This reduces both labor and equipment costs. Replacing minor components like gaskets through this design helps maintain the integrity and lifespan of the overall unit, and preventive maintenance helps support optimal performance as well.
These units also have the added benefit of being able to recover heat and transfer it to a different section of the system, saving you even more on operating costs.
Are you ready to improve your bottom line?
AGC prides itself for conducting plate checks using food-grade dye, with a commitment to inspect every plate as a regular component of preventive maintenance. Your plant or facility will be in the best of hands with our team at your service.
Plate heat exchangers are a time-tested way to increase efficiency in your plant or building. Whatever heat exchanger needs you may have — new products, spare parts, diagnostics, or service — AGC Heat Transfer has you covered.
Contact us today and speak with one of our experts. We’ll help you pick the right heat exchanger for your operation’s future goals.