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Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438

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Applied Thermal Engineering

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

An experimental investigation of heat transfer enhancement

for a shell-and-tube heat exchanger
Simin Wang, Jian Wen *, Yanzhong Li
Department of Refrigeration and Cryogenics Engineering, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xian Jiaotong University, Xian, Shaan xi 710049, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: For the purpose of heat transfer enhancement, the conguration of a shell-and-tube heat exchanger was
Received 6 June 2008 improved through the installation of sealers in the shell-side. The gaps between the bafe plates and shell
Accepted 15 December 2008 is blocked by the sealers, which effectively decreases the short-circuit ow in the shell-side. The results of
Available online 24 December 2008
heat transfer experiments show that the shell-side heat transfer coefcient of the improved heat exchan-
ger increased by 18.225.5%, the overall coefcient of heat transfer increased by 15.619.7%, and the
Keywords: exergy efciency increased by 12.914.1%. Pressure losses increased by 44.648.8% with the sealer instal-
Shell-and-tube heat exchanger
lation, but the increment of required pump power can be neglected compared with the increment of heat
Bafe-shell leakage ow
ux. The heat transfer performance of the improved heat exchanger is intensied, which is an obvious
Heat transfer enhancement benet to the optimizing of heat exchanger design for energy conservation.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction heat exchanger tubing linear footage by 2575% compared with

conventional plain tube units. Hosseini et al. [4] experimentally
Shell-and-tube heat exchangers are commonly used in petro- investigated the effect of different types of external tube surfaces
chemical and energy industries for their relatively simple manu- on shell-side heat transfer coefcient and pressure drop of a shell-
facture and adaptability to different operating conditions. and-tube heat exchanger. The results showed that the performance
Although not the most compact solution, their robustness and of the heat exchanger greatly improved for micro-nned tubes at a
shape make them well suitable for high-pressure operations [1]. higher Reynolds number. Another feature of optimization is to select
The bafes are primarily used in shell-and-tube heat exchangers the optimum inter-bafe spacing. Li et al. [5] found that the in-
for inducing cross ow over the tubes, and as a result, improving creased bafe spacing can increase the heat transfer coefcient in
heat transfer performance. In practice this objective is not quite the whole bafe. The local heat transfer coefcient distribution at
achieved due to departure from cross ow and due to several leak- an individual tube is slightly affected by the bafe spacing. Taborek
ages and bypass stream. et al. [6] suggested that the space between the bafes could vary be-
Pressure drop and heat transfer are interdependent and both of tween a minimum of 20% of shell diameter and a maximum equal to
them essentially inuence the capital and operating costs of any heat the shell diameter. Mukherjee et al. [7] pointed out that the optimum
exchange system. The design and optimization of shell-and-tube bafe spacing normally ranges from 0.3 to 0.6 times the shell diam-
heat exchangers including thermodynamic and uid dynamic de- eter. Saffar-Avval et al. [8] have studied the effect of bafe spacing on
sign, strength calculations, cost estimation represents a complex heat transfer area and pressure drop, and conclude that the bafe
process containing an integrated whole of design rules, calculating spacing has a decisive effect on pumping power and noticeable effect
methods and empirical knowledge of various elds [2]. The optimi- on required heat transfer area, where a guideline has been also
zation of shell-and-tube heat exchangers requires a good knowledge developed to calculate the optimum bafe spacing for single phase
of the local and average shell-side heat transfer coefcients. In the E-type shell-and-tube heat exchanger. In a recent study, Eryener
past few years there were realized several developments to improve et al. [9] analyzed the optimum ratio of bafe spacing to shell diam-
the thermal effectiveness of shell-and-tube heat exchangers. New eter by applying the thermoeconomic analysis method. Although all
types of tube-side turbulence promoters (e.g. tube inserts, corru- these investigations are able to improve the performance of the heat
gated tubes) and tube supports (e.g. helical bafes) have been suc- exchanger to some extent, the results are not so obvious.
cessfully introduced. Thome et al. [3] put forward that the proper There are also a few researchers who have studied the effect of
application of tubular heat transfer augmentations is able to reduce leakage ow on thermal performance of shell-and-tube heat
exchangers. Roetzel and Lee [10] experimentally investigated the
* Corresponding author. Fax: +86 29 82668725. leakage ow in shell-and-tube heat exchangers with segmental baf-
E-mail address: jianwen@mail.xjtu.edu.cn (J. Wen). es. They found that the shell-bafe leakage has great inuence on

1359-4311/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
2434 S. Wang et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438


Cp average specic heat capacity at constant Greek symbols

pressure (kJ/(kg K)) a0 oil-side heat transfer coefcient (W/m2 K)
di internal diameter of tubes (mm) ai water-side heat transfer coefcient (W/m2 K)
do external diameter of tubes (mm) d tube thickness (mm)
E exergy (kJ/s) D error
Egain gained exergy (kJ/s) DP shell-side pressure drop (mmHg)
Epay consumed exergy (kJ/s) DT temperature change from inlet to outlet in the exchan-
h enthalpy (kJ/kg) ger (K)
Ne pump power consumption (W) DTm logarithmic mean temperature difference (K)
K overall coefcient of heat transfer k heat conduction coefcient of tubes (W/m K)
(W/m2 K) gex exergy coefcient of heat exchanger
Q total heat transfer in the heat exchanger
(kJ/s) Subscripts
Re Reynolds number c cold uid
Ri water-side fouling resistance (m2 K/W) ex exergy
Ro oil-side fouling resistance (m2 K/W) h hot uid
Ta air temperature (K) o oil
U velocity (m/s) w water
V shell-side volume ow (m3/s) 1 inlet
W mass velocity (kg/s) 2 outlet

the apparent overall heat transfer coefcient, which is based on the ow modes in the shell. A is cross ow of uid through the tube
ideal plug ow model. This reduction will be even greater when the bundle. B is the ow through the gaps of segmental bafes and C
tube-side Reynolds number increases. Roetzel and Lee [11] studied is the shell-bafe leakage ow (short-circuit ow).
experimentally the inuence of bafe-shell leakage ow on the
thermal performance in bafed shell-and-tube heat exchangers 2.2. Flow mode of improved heat exchanger
with different distances between bafes. The results have shown
that bafe-shell leakage ow causes a reduction in the thermal per- The so called conguration improvement is to install sealers on
formance. This reduction increases as the tube-side Reynolds num- each bafe in order to block the bafe-shell gap. The ow distribu-
ber increases, and the distance between bafes decreases. Li and tion for bafed shell-side ow of improved heat exchanger is
Kottke [12] performed experiments to determine the response of shown in Fig. 2. There are only two kinds of ow modes (A and
the pressure drop and local heat transfer on the shell-side of shell- B) after the installation of sealers. The ow mode of C is prevented,
and-tube heat exchangers to a change in the leakage between bafes and this part of uid is forced to join modes A and B to participate
and shell in the fully developed regime. They found that the leakage in heat exchange.
between bafes and shell can greatly reduce the pressure drop and As to the shell-and-tube heat exchanger AES300-2.5-10-3/25-2
the per-compartment average heat transfer coefcient. They found used in the experiment, the cross-sectional area of the bafe-shell
that bafe-shell leakage reduces greatly the heat transfer by 17 gap (circular ow passage) engages about 1/6 of the total ow area
21% among their experimental Reynolds range. in shell-side. At the same pressure head, the ux inside two ow
All the above research results demonstrate that the bafe-shell passages relates to not only the ow area but also the resistance in-
leakage is negative for the improvement of the heat transfer in side the ow passages. The circular ow passage through the gap is
shell-and-tube heat exchangers. However, there is still an apparent short and straight, which causes little resistance. While the ow
lack of literature on the topic of conguration improvements of passage within the tube bundle is Z-shaped and long, which results
shell-and-tube heat exchangers to decrease the leakage ow. For in more resistance. Thus the unit area ux in the short-circuit ow
manufacturing reasons, the internal diameter of the shell is always passage is larger than that of the other one. So the sealers may
bigger than the external diameter of tube bundle for the successful block more than 1/6 of all the ux in the shell. The effect of the
installation. So according to the GB151 national standards of China, bafe-shell leakage ow on the thermal performance cannot be
there is always a circular gap of around 37 mm between the shell
and tube bundle for the shell-and-tube heat exchangers with diam-
eter between 400 and 2000 mm. And with the development of larger
heat exchangers, the gap will increase accordingly. A part of the uid
in the shell will ow through the gap and does not participate into
heat exchange, thus diminishing thermal performance of the heat
exchangers. Hence experimental investigation is performed in this
paper to effectively decrease the shell-bafe leakage ow through
the conguration improvement of shell-and-tube heat exchanger. A A

2. Conguration improvement

2.1. Flow mode of conventional heat exchanger C C

The ow modes of the conventional shell-and-tube heat Fig. 1. Schematic ow distribution for bafed shell-side ow of conventional heat
exchangers are demonstrated in Fig. 1. There are three types of exchanger.
S. Wang et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438 2435

measuring the oil ux, whose measurement error is less than

Sealer B Sealer 1.0%. A rotermeter LZB-100 is used for measuring water ux,
whose measurement error is less than 2.0%. The pressure drop is
measured by U-shaped tube and water is adopted as the working
uid. The minimum scale of the U-shaped tube is 1 mm. Within
the measurement range, the measurement error of pressure drop
A A is less than 1.0%.
Temperature is measured by copper-constantan thermocou-
ples. Although all of the thermocouples are calibrated (Fig. 4), mea-
surement errors still exist for their intrinsic property and
Sealer discrepancy during manufacturing process, which are as follows:
(1) D1, error caused by thermoelectric non-uniformity of the
Fig. 2. Schematic ow distribution for bafed shell-side ow of improved heat thermocouples. There are variations between electric potential
exchanger. and temperature which is mainly caused by the non-uniformity
of chemical composition during manufacture of thermocouples.
The error of electric potential , caused by thermoelectric non-uni-
formity is 1.2 lV. The electric potential is 39.1 lV per degree (C)
neglected. It is necessary to improve the conguration of shell-
between 0 and 70 C. There are about 99.7% experimental results
and-tube heat exchangers to block the leakage ow.
located within l 3r according to mathematic statistics. The max-
imum error of electric potential is 3.6 lV, that is D1 = 0.092 C.
3. Experimental setup (2) D2, error caused by non-linearity of the calibration curve
(Fig. 4). The relationship between electric potential (E, lV)and
Fig. 3 shows the schematic drawing of experimental system, temperature of copper-constantan thermocouples can be ex-
which consists of water loop system, oil loop system and data P
pressed as a polynomial expression (E Ni0 bi ti ) within 200 to
acquisition system. The arrangement of them is also illustrated in 200 C. Commonly, the measurement precision can be guaranteed
the diagram. Water is supplied into tube-side by a pump. Oil is by using a binomial or trinomial. The thermocouples selected in
heated by an electric heater and ows to the shell-side as hot uid. the experiment were calibrated and denoted as a binomial. Accord-
The experiment is performed under the same operating conditions ing to the calibration results, D2 is less than 0.20 C.
for one heat exchanger with the changeable tube bundle. One is (3) D3, error caused by the electric resistance of leading wires.
conventional tube bundle and the other is improved with sealers, According to former experiences and the experimental conditions,
namely conventional heat exchanger and improved, separately. D3 is less than 0.05 C.
The data acquisition system consists of sensors, acquisition board, D4, error caused by the accuracy of secondary meter (digital
acquisition program and PC. The effect of the sealers on the pres- universal meter). It is Model 2000 produced by KEITHLEY Ltd.
sure drop and thermal performance of the heat exchanger are then The zero output of the digital universal meter is within 13 lV.
analysed. The maximum value of D4 is 0.076 C at 3 lV.
From above description, the measurement error of the thermo-
3.1. Experimental apparatus couples is then dened as follows [13]:
Two QB-100 centrifugal pumps are used in the experiment. One D D21 D22 D23 D24 0:24  C 1
is for water and the other is for oil. There are two tanks made in-
house, one is for oil with capacity of 20 m3 and the other is for The measurement error of temperature is less than 0.24 C in the
water with capacity of 40 m3. Gear oil gauge XB-630 is used for heat transfer experiment. The error is less than 2.4% within the

1. Oil pump, 2. Gear oil gauge, 3. Heat exchanger, 4. Temperature transducer,

5. Rotermeter, 6. Water tank, 7. Water pump, 8. Differential gauge, 9. Oil tank
Fig. 3. Schematic arrangement of experimental setup.
2436 S. Wang et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438

3.5 tem has achieved a fully developed ow. Only the experimental
data indicating that the thermal leakage is within 3.0% are seen
3.0 as valid, otherwise they are discarded.

4. Results and discussion
4.1. Effect of sealer on heat transfer coefcient

The overall heat transfer Q is as follows:
1.0 Q W h C p;h DT h W c C p;h DT c 2

0.5 The overall coefcient of heat transfer K is calculated through

the following equation:
0.0 Q
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 K 3
A  DT m
The water-side heat transfer coefcient ai is expressed as
Fig. 4. Calibration curve of thermocouples.
measurement range, which meets the specication of less than 5%
ai 0:027 Re0:8 P 0:33
c 4
for measurement error in heat transfer experiment [14].
The oil-side heat transfer coefcient a0 is expressed as,

3.2. Heat exchanger 1

a0 1 5
 R0  Ri dd0  a1 d0
 dk d0
i i
The tube-and-shell heat exchanger used in the experiment is
ABS300-2.5-10-3/25-2. The internal diameter of shell is 300 mm In these equations, the subscripts h and c denote the hot and
and the external diameter of tube is 25 mm (as shown in Fig. 5). cold uids, respectively; Q is total heat transfer in the heat exchan-
There are 36 tubes with the length of 3000 mm. The total heat ex- ger; W denotes mass velocity and Cp denotes average specic heat
change area is 10 m2 with a bafe spacing of 120 mm and a mea- capacity at constant pressure; DT denotes the temperature change
sured gap between the tube bundle and shell is about 3 mm. The from inlet to outlet in the exchanger ; DTm is logarithmic mean
sealers are patent products installed on the bafes. The sealers temperature difference in heat exchanger; K denotes overall heat
shrink upon installation to ease installation, while they expand transfer coefcient; Ri is water-side fouling resistance; R0 is oil-side
to block the bafe-shell gap under the operating conditions. fouling resistance; di is internal diameter of tubes and d0 is external
diameter of tubes; d denotes the tubes thickness; k is the heat con-
3.3. Experimental method duction coefcient of tubes.
Figs. 6 and 7 show the effects of sealers on oil-side heat transfer
The cold uid in tube-side is water and the hot uid in shell- coefcient a0 and overall coefcient of heat transfer K. Heat trans-
side is heat-conducting oil. The ux of water in the tubes is xed fer performance is obviously enhanced by the conguration
to 18 m3/h. The ux of oil in the shell-side varies with the working improvement. The variation trends with shell-side ux are the
conditions. The measured data include ux and temperature both same for a0 and K. They all increase with the shell-side ux. All
at the inlet and at the outlet of tube-side and shell-side, and the of the values of a0 and K of improved heat exchanger increase com-
shell-side pressure drops. All the data are measured after the sys- pared with that of conventional heat exchanger. Under the opera-
tion conditions, a0 and K increase by 18.225.5% and 15.619.7%,
respectively. The sealers block the bafe-shell gap, which effec-
tively forces the original short-circuit ow to participate in heat

600 50
Oil-side heat-transfer coefficient W/m K

with sealer
without sealer 40
Increase percentage (%)





increase percentage
100 10
100 150 200 250 300

Shell-side flux (L/min)

Fig. 5. Schematic gure of tube distribution. Fig. 6. Oil-side heat transfer coefcient a0 versus shell-side ux.
S. Wang et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438 2437

500 40 crease of ow rate. Thus the pressure drops in the improved heat
Overall heat transfer coefficient (W/m .K)

exchanger increase.

with sealer 35

without sealer 4.3. The effect of sealers on pump power consumption

Increase percentage (%)

Under the same operating conditions, the values of K of the im-
proved heat exchanger with sealers increase, which results in the
300 25 outlet temperature increase of cold uid and the decrease of hot
uid. The total thermal ux through the improved heat exchanger
20 with sealers increases accordingly. The increase of shell-side pres-
200 sure drop causes the increase of pump power consumption. But the
calculated value is very low.
increase percentage The pump power consumption is dened as [15],

100 10 N e DP  V 6
100 150 200 250 300
where Ne is denoted as pump power consumption. DP is shell-side
Shell-side flux (L/min) pressure drop. And V is denoted shell-side volume ow.
Fig. 7. Overall heat transfer coefcient K versus shell-side ux. Fig. 9 demonstrates the effects of sealers on pump power con-
sumption. The increased thermal ux and the increased pump
power consumption all increases with shell-side ux. The operat-
exchange. The shell-side circulation area decreases and the ing condition of the largest shell-side pressure drop was chosen.
shell-side ow rate increases accordingly. Thus the shell-side heat At this point, the increased thermal ux is 11.8 kW and the in-
transfer performance of improved heat exchanger is effectively creased pump power consumption is 7.8 W. This difference is
enhanced, bringing about an obvious increase in shell-side heat about three orders of magnitude. The increment of thermal ux
transfer coefcient a0 and overall coefcient of heat transfer K. is among 6.411.7 kW and the increment of pump power con-
sumption is among 0.77.8 W under the operating conditions.
4.2. The effect of sealers on shell-side pressure drops The increased thermal ux is far and away larger compared with
the increased pump power consumption. Hence the increased
The variation of shell-side pressure drops along with ux is pump power consumption by means of the installation of sealers
demonstrated in Fig. 8. As shown in the gure, the pressure drop can be neglected, which is more than compensated for by the in-
4P increases with the shell-side ux. And the pressure drops of im- crease of heat ux.
proved heat exchanger are always higher than the conventional
one. When shell-side ux is 150 L/min, the shell-side pressure drop 4.4. The effect of sealers on the exergy coefcient
is 7.8 mmHg before the conguration improvement and 11 mmHg
after. The pressure drop increased by about 44.8%. When ux in- From the former mentioned experimental results, it can be seen
creases to 306 L/min, the pressure drop increases from 25.7 mmHg that the thermal performance of the improved heat exchanger is
of conventional heat exchanger to 37.2 mmHg of improved with notably enhanced by the addition of sealers. However, there is an
sealers, which increases by 48.8%. Within the operating conditions, increase in ow resistance, which results in the increase of irre-
the pressure drops increase by 44.648.8%. The installation of seal- versible loss in the thermodynamic process. Exergy analysis is
ers deletes the short-circuit ow and urges this part of uid to ow based on second law of thermodynamics. According to the equilib-
across the tube bundle and bafes to exchange heat with water in rium of exergy, the exergy is converted, transferred, used and lost
the tubes. The pressure drop of the original short-circuit ow in- during the heat exchange process. The thermal performance of
creases for the above variation of ow passage. The shell-side cir- heat exchanger can be analyzed and evaluated through the aspect
culation area decreases by means of the block of sealers and the of energy quality. The integrative thermal performance of heat
shell-side average ow rate increases. The pressure drop caused exchangers is compared using the parameter of exergy coefcient.
by the frictional resistance along the passages increases by the in-

Increment of pump power consumption (W)

40 70
12 increase of thermal flux
Increment of thermal flux (kW)

65 pump power consumption 16

Shell-side pressure drop (mmHg)

with sealer
without sealer
Increase percentage (%)

20 55

50 8

0 6
increase percentage
-10 35 100 150 200 250 300
100 150 200 250 300
Shell-side flux (L/min)
shell-side flux (L/min)
Fig. 9. Increment of pump power consumption and thermal ux versus shell-side
Fig. 8. Shell-side pressure drop versus shell-side ux. ux.
2438 S. Wang et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 29 (2009) 24332438

Based on reference [16,17], the exergy coefcient of heat exchan- 5. Conclusions

ger can be expressed as below (water is cold uid and oil is hot
uid), The sealers installed inside the shell-and-tube heat exchanger
Exw2  Exw1 El effectively block the bafe-shell gap and decrease the circular leak-
gex 1 7 age ow. The original short-circuit ow then participates in heat
Ex01  Ex02 Ex01  Ex02
transfer, which intensies the heat transfer performance inside
The average specic heat of water is chosen as the calculated the heat exchanger. Within operating conditions, the shell-side
parameter. Then the gained exergy of water is given by, heat transfer coefcient of the improved heat exchanger increased
   by 18.225.5% and the overall coefcient of heat transfer K in-
T w2
Egain Ew2  Ew1 W w cpw T w2  T w1  T a ln 8 creased by 15.619.1%. Pressure losses increased by 44.648.8%
T w1
with the sealer installation. However, the increment of pump
The consumed exergy of oil is dened as, power consumption for the increase of pressure drop is very low
  compared with the increment of thermal ux. With respect to
T o1
Epay Eo1  Eo2 W o ho1  ho2  T a cpo 9 the energy quality, the exergy coefcient increased by 12.9
T o2
14.1% after the conguration improvement. The energy utilization
where the subscripts o and w are denoted oil and water, respec- improves, which is of signicance to the energy conservation and
tively; W is represented mass velocity, kg/s. The subscripts 1 and optimum design to the shell-and-tube heat exchanger. The sealers
2 are denoted inlet and outlet, respectively; cp is the average spe- are a novel solution settling the puzzle of the effect of bafe-shell
cic heat capacity at constant pressure, kJ/(kg K). Ta is the air tem- leakage ow in tube-and-shell heat exchangers. They are cheap,
perature, K. h is the enthalpy, kJ/kg. rm and convenient to install, guarantying safe and long lasting
Substitution of gained exergy and consumed exergy yields the operation. The sealers can be used in new heat exchangers or ret-
exergy coefcient of heat exchanger, gex, rotted into existing installations. The potential gain could be of
n h io benet to many industries using shell-and-tube heat exchangers.
T w2
Egain W w cpw T w2  T w1  T a ln T w1
Epay W o ho1  ho2  T a cpo TT o1 Acknowledgements

The exergy coefcient of heat exchanger versus shell-side ux is The paper is supported by the National Natural Science Founda-
shown in Fig. 10. Under the xed tube-side inlet condition, the tion of China (NSFC 50676074) and grammatically revised by Dy-
oil-side heat transfer coefcient a0 (Fig. 6) and shell-side tempera- lan Thorpe from RMIT of Australia, for which the authors are
ture difference of heat transfer increase with the increase of shell- thankful.
side ux, which intensies the heat transfer within heat exchanger.
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