Corrugations for efficiency in tubular heat exchangers

18 May 2020

There are many different types of the tubular heat exchanger on the market, such as annular space, double tube, and multi-tube, as well as those with different geometries including the use of internal fins, dimples, and corrugations. HRS-heat exchangers have written several articles explaining why corrugated tubes are our preferred design option, but it is worth reiterating.

The benefits of corrugated tubes include increased efficiency, longer running times, smaller footprint, and easier maintenance and cleaning.

Increased efficiency: In a smooth tube, fluids generally follow a smooth path in which the particles do not interfere with each other. This is known as laminar flow. However, in the case of corrugated tubes, this smooth flow is disrupted causing tiny whirlpool regions to form and creating turbulence. This makes heat exchangers more efficient and prevents materials from dropping out of suspension.

Longer running times: Preventing the formation of a boundary layer in the tube reduces the downtime needed to keep removing fouling. Therefore, operational run times are much longer, further increasing the overall efficiency of the process.

Smaller footprint: Because a corrugated tube has an increased heat transfer rate the heat exchanger can be made smaller. Depending on the application, a corrugated tube heat exchanger can be up to half the size of its smooth tube equivalent.

Easier maintenance and cleaning: For certain viscous materials, corrugated tubes provide enough turbulence to prevent the need for mechanical agitation. With no moving parts, a corrugated tube is much easier to clean and maintain than a scraped-surface heat exchanger and may also prove more reliable.