How do Heat Exchangers work?

If you’re wondering what the purpose of an industrial heat exchanger is, why not let USEL Tubular Division talk you through the basics? They are the specialists when it comes to designing and manufacturing heat exchangers, so you can rest assured that you’re in capable hands!

What are Heat Exchangers?

A heat exchanger is a device that has been specially designed to transfer heat efficiently from one medium to the next. Their ability to remove excess heat makes them useful for various applications of heating and cooling.

Often, a heat exchanger is used to save energy and money and can also be used to boost the efficiency of cars, ships and aircraft.

How do they work?

Heat exchangers transfer heat between 2 liquids- making sure that they don’t mix together. Although the heat exchanger tubes have the same purpose, they use different flow arrangements, equipment and offer unique features.

Take a boiler, for instance, a heat exchanger is used to heat the water in the radiator to provide heat for the entire room. By burning natural gas, the heat exchanger tubes allow water to flow through a network of pipes, absorbing heat energy.

What are Heat Exchanger Tubes used for?

Heat exchanger tubes are used for an array of applications, some of which are bound to take you by surprise!

As a component of air conditioning, the heat exchanger tubes enable you to maintain a safe operating temperature for any machinery, chemicals, water or gases, but they will require care and attention to prevent excessive heating.

A heat exchanger tube is not just suitable for car engines and machinery, it can also be used to provide cool air, without direct contact.

USEL Tubular Division or Tube Supply provides a complete range of stock heat exchanger tubes, so you needn’t worry about finding exactly what you need to improve the efficiency of any engines or machines!

Here are just a few examples of how the exchanger tubes can be used!

  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

When compared to heat applications, like the central heating system, refrigerators and air conditioners use heat exchangers in the opposite way. They remove heat from a room or compartment where it’s not required, providing you with a comfortable room temperature.

  • Power Plants and Engines

Heat can be found in exhaust gases. As these gases drift upwards, they brush past the fins within the tubes. Whilst water flows, the heat is carried away to prevent engines and machinery overheating.

Did you know that a heat exchanger tube can be used to reduce energy loss too?

  • Car Radiators

A heat exchanger tube can be used to prevent a car radiator overheating! Water cools the engine and flows through the radiator. The engine is kept cool because the fins are opened to the air. This cool air removes the heat efficiently, making it easier for you to maintain the efficiency of your engine.

Which Heat Exchangers are available?

Any heat exchanger tube, supplied by Tube Supply, is designed to have the same purpose (to transfer heat from one source to a new one efficiently), however, they work differently.

Tube Supply is proud to supply the finned heat exchanger tubes for air to liquid cooling applications. These tubes provide the pathway for liquids whilst the fins add surface area for heat convection.

Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

The shell and tube exchangers pass one fluid through metal tubes and another fluid through the shell that surrounds the tube. this type of heat exchanger tube is common in boilers.

Alternatively, the plate and fin tubes are used for applications that need to exchange heat quickly. Their larger surface area makes them extremely efficient when it comes to transferring heat from one place to another. Unlike the shell and tube heat exchanger tubes, these incorporate many thin plates or fins to allow liquids to pass through easily.

Generally, the shell and tube and plate and fin tubes are the most popular heat exchangers on the market, but this isn’t to say that they are the only ones available to purchase from Tube Supply!

Finned Tubes

Within the extensive collection of heat exchanger tubes at Tube Supply, you can expect to find the Helical High Finned Tubes and the Integrally Finned Tubes, along with the Longitudinal Finned Tubes and the HF Welded Helical Finned Tubes.

The finned tubes are perfect for continuous processes and moderate temperature cooling applications.

Classification of Heat Exchangers.

Heat exchanger tubes are often classified by several factors including the following:

  1. Nature of the process

Identify whether the fluids come into direct contact with each other- this will allow you to choose the most suitable exchanger for your unique application.

Heat exchangers that provide direct contact are guaranteed to provide effective heating, where indirect contact will keep fluids physically separated, preventing contamination.

  1. Physical state of the fluid

A heat exchanger tube is classified by its ability to blend. Some exchangers transfer liquids to gas, whilst others transfer liquids to solids or gas to solids.

  1. Flow arrangement

Not all heat exchanger tubes work in the same way; some liquids flow parallel through the tube. For these, the hot and cold fluids enter at the same end of the tube.

For a heat exchanger tube that provides countercurrent flow, the hot and cold fluids enter at opposite ends and flow towards each other.

If liquids enter at different times, they will cross paths within the heat exchanger tube- this is referred to as cross flow.

Need to know more about heat exchangers and how they work? Call Tube Supply on 0191 587 1777 or email them at for more information!

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