A Heat Exchanger is a system of equipment that allows the transfer of heat between devices ( media) or fluids. It can be used both for cooling and heating purposes. Mainly, heat exchangers in the oil and gas industry as used to remove the heat generated by the relevant processes.
The working principle of heat exchangers works similar to a car engine cooling system, by exchanging heat between chilled liquid and heated equipment used in the process.
Heat exchangers are generally divided into 1) Direct heat exchangers and 2) Indirect heat exchangers, with the major difference being the interaction between the chilled fluid and the heated piece of equipment.
In the oil and gas industry, the most common type of heat exchangers are:
- Plate / Fin Heat Exchangers. This type of exchangers consists of a lot of thin metal plates or fins to transfer heat between fluids. High heat transfer properties make this type of exchangers popular choices for gas processing. Besides, where space is restricted, this type of exchangers are useful too.
- Shell & Tube Exchangers. This type of exchangers consists of a series of tubes inside a pressurized outer shell/tube. Generally, hot fluids transferred through smaller tubes, with coolers liquids in the shell / larger tube absorbing the heat. Shell & Tube heat exchangers suited better for demanding applications and high pressure.