May 28, 2024

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Types of Heat Exchangers – Plate Heat, Plate Fin and Adiabatic Wheel

Heat exchangers are common parts of several devices and machinery used in many industries today. Heavy industries such as petroleum gasoline plants, power plants, sewage treatment facilities and oil refineries use them in their equipments. The machinery used in such industries not only need constant tune up, they also need continuous cooling. Heat exchangers perform this job for them.


Heat exchangers are devices that are installed to facilitate efficient heat transfers from one medium to another. These mediums are usually in the form of water and other liquids. The process involves liquids being separated by a thin solid wall that will keep it from being in direct contact with each other. There are also heat exchangers that let these liquids mix during the transfer process.

Different types

There are several types of heat exchangers. In addition to the shell and tube, here are three more types of common exchangers typically used in many of today’s devices:

·    Plate Heat

These types has several plates that are usually thin and slightly separated when placed in the machines. They are usually large in surface area which enables it to process heat transfers between mediums easily. Compared to the shell and tube, the plate heat exchanger is said to be more effective because it features a stacked-plate arrangement.

Over the years, many machines have converted to these type because of its practicality and efficiency of use. In machines such as a refrigerator, these can either be one of two types: dip-brazed or vacuum-brazed. 

These devices can also be classified based on the types of plates that they use. They can also be differentiated by the configurations of the plate being used. Some plates can have their own unique designs with different stamps, patterns, fins or grooves.

·    Plate Fin

A plate fin uses pairs of passages, usually called sandwich passages, which increase the efficiency of the whole machine. Various fin configurations is featured in a plate fin heat exchanger. These include straight fins, wavy fins and offset fins. The design of this particular exchanger also has some cross flow and counter flow designs.

The higher heat transfer efficiency exhibited by a plate fin exchanger can be credited to the aluminum alloy which it is made of. This particular mixture enables the plate fin to work at a much lower temperature all while reducing the weight of the equipment it was installed to.

This type can be usually found on machines that are used for the processes of natural gas plants, liquefaction plants, air separation plants and many more. It can also be found inside motor engines.

·    Adiabatic Wheel

This type of heat exchanger makes use of intermediate fluid and solid during its heat transfer processes. Adiabatic wheels consist of a large wheel together with very fine threads that rotate through the hot and cold mediums. This enables the efficient heat transfer between the two fluids.