What You Need to Know About Tube Inserts for Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers
Shell and tube heat exchangers are widely used in various industries for transferring heat between fluids. The design and functionality of these heat exchangers are heavily impacted by the tubes and their inserts. Tube inserts (aka turbulators) are used to enhance the heat transfer coefficient on the tube-side process and work best in low velocity and/or higher viscosity streams. Here’s what you should know about tube inserts for shell and tube heat exchangers and where to find quality heat exchanger tube and bundle replacements.
The Tubes Inside Shell and Tube Exchangers
Shell and tube heat exchangers consist of an outer shell filled with many tubes inside. One fluid flows through the tubes, and another around the tubes inside the shell. Heat is transferred between the fluids via the tube-wall. The tubes are usually made of metals, such as carbon steel, stainless steel (304, 316, etc.), copper alloys, or nickel alloys (Inconel, Hastelloy, etc.), and come in standard outside diameters and tube gauges (thicknesses). Tube inserts can be used to increase the heat transfer coefficient on the tube-side process thus improving overall heat transfer rates and allowing for smaller heat exchangers than otherwise required.
When Should You Consider Tube Inserts in Heat Exchangers?
At low flow rates, the tube-side fluid flow can become laminar, meaning that the fluid moves in smooth layers without any mixing. Low Reynolds numbers inside tubes will greatly impact the overall performance of shell and tube heat exchangers, leading to a decrease in heat transfer rates and a reduction in overall efficiency. To combat this, passive heat transfer enhancement technologies, such as twisted tape tube inserts and wire mesh tube inserts, can be used to create turbulence in the fluid flow and disrupt the boundary layer. This increased turbulence can improve heat transfer rates and overall performance – even at low Reynolds numbers!
Twisted Tape Tube Inserts
Twisted tape tube inserts are a highly effective way to improve heat transfer in heat exchangers. The inserts are a type of passive heat transfer enhancement technology that consists of a thin, twisted strip of metal that is wrapped around the interior of a tube. As the fluid flows through the tube, it encounters the twisted tape inserts and is forced to change direction and velocity, creating turbulence and disrupting the boundary layer. This disruption results in increased heat transfer rates and reduced overall heat transfer resistance. Additionally, the twisted tape inserts can help to reduce fouling and increase the overall efficiency of the heat exchanger.
Industry Uses and Applications for Tubes in Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers
Shell and tube heat exchangers are used in various industries, including oil & gas, SAGD, chemical, petrochemical, pulp & paper, power generation, and others. They are used for heating, cooling, condensing, and evaporation of fluids. Tube inserts can be used in these heat exchangers to enhance the heat transfer rate and reduce fouling and cost. The type of tube insert selected depends on the specific application and the process fluid properties.
Get in Touch With Altex for Heat Exchanger Tubes and More
If you need high-performing heat exchanger tubes, tube inserts, or other heat transfer equipment, get in touch with Altex. We offer a wide range of products and services for different industries, including oil & gas, SAGD, chemical, petrochemical, pulp & paper, and others. Altex has a team of experts who can help you select the right tube insert for your specific application and provide the best solutions for your heat transfer needs.