Trends in heat exchanger technologies

Source: Frost & Sullivan

Nov 23, 2011

Although no significant developments have taken place in the field of heat exchangers, various improvements have been observed in aspects such as material or working fluid selection, design and distribution. Cumulatively, such incremental changes have intensified the spotlight on energy efficiency and energy conservation. With growing awareness of energy consumption and the widening gap between energy generation and consumption, steps have been taken to improve performance of existing heat exchangers, especially in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. For instance, replacing aluminum tubes with copper could help reduce the overall cost of the heat exchanger without significantly affecting its thermodynamic performance.

Stand-alone polymer substrates and polymer-coated metal substrates subjected to drop-wise condensation could be used in many heat transfer applications such as compact polymer heat exchangers, contact lenses and thermal enclosures for horticulture applications for enhanced heat transfer.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s (http://www.technicalinsights.frost.com) Trends in Heat Exchanger Technologies research finds that the market is very mature and heavily dependent on end-user requirements as they change with industries and applications.

“Heat exchangers are predominantly used by various industries such as chemical, petrochemical, and oil and gas; food and beverage; HVAC and refrigeration; power generation; marine; and mining, and so on,” said Technical Insights Senior Research Analyst Avinash Iyer. “High demand in these industries has created a proportionate increase in demand for heat exchangers.”

Despite steady market traction, there are some aspects clouding its landscape. The supply of raw materials such as copper and aluminum has not been in tandem with the growing requirement of heat exchangers commissioned in end-user industries. Industrial communities have found this a major challenge while catering to the demanding market. This could be partially corrected by growth in the repair market and use of alternative materials.

It is extremely important to have heat exchangers that are resistant to scales as they help increase the product lifespan. Otherwise, repair and upgradation of heat exchanger parts will limit the product’s life span.

Most heat exchangers suffer from corrosion and scaling due to prolonged usage of working fluids. In the long run, it would be detrimental for end-users as heat transfer efficiency could be reduced and maintenance costs could increase. Employing novel methodologies such as back flashing could offset this by reducing the deposition of sediments in the tubes.

The two important deciding factors for choosing a heat exchanger are technology maturity and technology capability. They predominantly influence the effectiveness of heat exchangers in various operations. It would be ideal for a heat exchanger to have appreciable technological capability backed with enhanced thermodynamic properties to have a relatively higher competitive advantage.

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