Industrial Heat Exchangers: Explaining ASME, API, and TEMA Requirements

Industrial Heat Exchangers

Industrial Heat Exchangers: Explaining ASME, API, and TEMA Requirements

Write an introduction: Industrial heat exchangers are mechanical equipment devices that allow for the transfer of heat between two process fluids bodies of different temperatures. They are typically used to increase or decrease reduce the temperature of a fluid or gas, or to increase the temperature of a fluid or gas. The main requirements for industrial heat exchangers are documented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). Let’s take a look at the ASME, API, and TEMA requirements for the most important industrial heat exchangers.

API 660 600 Heat Exchanger (Shell and Tube Type)

The API 660 600 heat exchanger is the most common type of industrial shell and tube heat exchanger in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries. It is designed to transfer heat between two fluids or gases. API 660 The heat exchangers have three-four main components: the shell, the tube bundle, the channels the fins, and the fluid connection. The shell and channels are is made of metal and contain the pressure of the operating processes within the heat exchanger. is designed to be a tight fit around the tube. The tube bundle consists of tubes, tube sheets, and baffles.  The tube bundle is the effective part of the heat exchanger that maximizes the surface area needed for heat transfer.  API 660 builds upon the requirements of ASME and TEMA, and customer-specific shell & tube specifications typically use API 660 as a base requirement. The shell is usually connected to the tube with a fluid connection.

API 661 (Air-Cooler Types)

The API 661 is a type of industrial heat exchanger that is used to cool process fluids using ambient air.  Air-cooled heat exchangers consist of rectangular-shaped tube bundles with finned tubes.  The process fluid is contained and directed by header boxes at each end of the tube bundles.  The heat exchanger has a metal shell and a metal tube. The shell is connected to the tube with a fluid connection. The metal tube is curved and has fins on the outside. The fins on tubes increase help to decrease the air-side heat transfer area and greatly improve the heat transfer performance. Air-Cooled heat exchangers can be installed on top of pipe racks or as standalone equipment.  The heat exchanger is usually placed near the air intake of a building.  They can be forced draft (air blown), induced draft (air pulled), or natural convection (no fan).

TEMA Requirements (for Shell and Tube Types)

The Tubular Exchanger Manufacturers Association (TEMA) is a trade association that develops and promotes standards for industrial shell and tube heat exchangers. TEMA develops and promotes standards for industrial heat exchangers that are based on the ASME Section VIII. standard API 600. Being a TEMA member certifies the work and products to a certain level. Member companies must have five years of design and manufacturing experience, including other stringent requirements. Once a manufacturer is approved, products can be marked as TEMA-compliant.  TEMA is used to standardize the shell & tube industry so that terminology and fabrication standards are consistent and understood by manufacturers and end-users.  TEMA is generally considered a requirement for shell & tube exchanger design in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries.


The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has a set of Code standards that define the design requirements for boilers and pressure vessels, including industrial heat exchangers. These standards apply to all heat exchangers, boilers, and pressure vessels. ASME Code is considered `the law’ and must be treated as such when designing and fabricating.  Guidelines must be followed carefully for a company to be able to stamp their products as ASME-compliant heat exchangers are {U} or {S} stamped. ASME code applies to material grades, material tracing, mechanical thickness calculations, flange design, quality control, welding processes, and non-destructive testing, including final hydro testing.  tube sheet hole drilling, projections for boiler tubes, strength welding procedures, and other practices during boiler tube installation and expansion.

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