Energy in the form of heat is an essential part of oil and gas processing. Efficient operation may depend on transferring heat from one place to another. Heat energy can be transferred between fluids (gases and liquids) whenever their temperatures are different. The direction of transfer is always from the hotter fluid to the colder fluid. There are basically four benefits for transferring heat in the petroleum industry.
- To increase process efficiency
- To reduce maintenance
- To conserve energy
- To provide employee safety.
Types of Heat Exchangers
Shell and Tube:
Shell and tube heat exchangers are some of the most widely used in the petroleum industry. These heat exchangers consist of a bundle of tubes encased in a larger “pipe” or shell.
Double pipe heat exchangers consist of a smaller diameter pipe inserted inside a larger diameter pipe. These heat exchangers are well suited for high pressure applications.
Plate and frame:
Plate heat exchangers consist of a series of plates separated by gaskets. These heat exchangers are versatile because the contact surface area can be changed by adding or removing plates. However, their service may be limited by pressure ratings.
Aerial coolers consist of a series of finned tubes containing a hot process fluid exposed to a stream of air moving across the tubes. A motor-driven fan is used to create the air movement. Aerial cooler usage has increased in recent years due to increased costs of water and concerns over water pollution.