Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.75, No.7, 635-640, 1997
Effect of Flow Distribution on Scale Formation in Plate and Frame Heat-Exchangers
The uncertainty in the performance and reliability of plate and frame heat exchangers under fouling conditions is one of the main reasons why the chemical and process industry does not fully appreciate this type of heat exchangers’ obvious potential for cost and energy savings. Recent investigations have shown that similar heat exchanger plates with different corrugation patterns fouled at very different rates under identical process conditions. These differences are attributed to the effects of flow distribution on fouling rates in the plate channels. These effects have been investigated experimentally using commercial heat exchanger plates together with transparent polycarbonate plates for visual observation of flow distribution and fouling deposition. The heat exchanger’s fouling rate was found to increase with decreasing flow velocity and increasing solute concentration. Several fouling mitigation methods were also investigated. Experiments were performed with Acronitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) particles suspended in water in conjunction with a transparent polycarbonate plate to study the flow patterns in the plate channels. To improve the design of heat exchanger plates for longer operational cycles, it may be necessary to redesign the plates to obtain a more even flow distribution in the plate channels.