Heat exchangers are devices that facilitate the exchange of heat between two fluids that are at different temperatures while keeping them from mixing with each other. Heat exchangers are commonly used in practice in a wide range of applications, from heating and air-conditioning systems in a household, to chemical processing and power production in large plants.

Heat exchangers differ from mixing chambers in that they do not allow the two fluids involved to mix. In a car radiator, for example, heat is transferred from the hot water flowing through the radiator tubes to the air flowing through the closely spaced thin plates outside attached to the tubes. Heat transfer in a heat exchanger usually involves convection in each fluid and conduction through the wall separating the two fluids. In the analysis of heat exchangers, it is convenient to work with an overall heat transfer coefficient U that accounts for the contribution of all these effects on heat transfer. The rate of heat transfer between the two fluids at a location in a heat exchanger depends on the magnitude of the temperature difference at that location, which varies along the heat exchanger. In the analysis of heat exchangers, it is usually convenient to work with the logarithmic mean temperature difference LMTD, which is an equivalent mean temperature difference between the two fluids for the entire heat exchanger.

Heat exchangers are manufactured in a variety of types, and thus we start this chapter with the classification of heat exchangers. We then discuss the determination of the overall heat transfer coefficient in heat exchangers, and the LMTD for some configurations. We then introduce the correction factor F to account for the deviation of the mean temperature difference from the LMTD in complex configurations. Next we discuss the effectiveness–NTU method, which enables us to analyze heat exchangers when the outlet temperatures of the fluids are not known. Finally, we discuss the selection of heat exchangers.


Different heat transfer applications require different types of hardware and different configurations of heat transfer equipment. The attempt to match the heat transfer hardware to the heat transfer requirements within the specified constraints has resulted in numerous types of innovative heat exchanger designs.

The simplest type of heat exchanger consists of two concentric pipes of different diameters, as shown in Figure 13–1, called the double-pipe heat exchanger. One fluid in a double-pipe heat exchanger flows through the smaller pipe while the other fluid flows through the annular space between the two pipes. Two types of flow arrangement are possible in a double-pipe heat exchanger: in parallel flow, both the hot and cold fluids enter the heat exchanger at the same end and move in the same direction. In counter flow, on the other hand, the hot and cold fluids enter the heat exchanger at opposite ends and flow in opposite directions.




a small volume, and they are commonly used in applications with strict limitations on the weight and volume of heat exchangers (Fig. 13–2).


The large surface area in compact heat exchangers is obtained by attaching closely spaced thin plate or corrugated fins to the walls separating the two fluids. Compact heat exchangers are commonly used in gas-to-gas and gas-toliquid (or liquid-to-gas) heat exchangers to counteract the low heat transfer coefficient associated with gas flow with increased surface area. In a car radiator, which is a water-to-air compact heat exchanger, for example, it is no surprise that fins are attached to the air side of the tube surface. In compact heat exchangers, the two fluids usually move perpendicular to each other, and such flow configuration is called cross-flow. The cross-flow is further classified as unmixed and mixed flow, depending on the flow configuration, as shown in Figure 13–3. In (a) the cross-flow is said to be unmixed since the plate fins force the fluid to flow through a particular inter fin spacing and prevent it from moving in the transverse direction (i.e., parallel to the tubes). The cross-flow in (b) is said to be mixed since the fluid now is free to move in the transverse direction. Both fluids are unmixed in a car radiator. The presence of mixing in the fluid can have a significant effect on the heat transfer characteristics of the heat exchanger.


An innovative type of heat exchanger that has found widespread use is the plate and frame (or just plate) heat exchanger, which consists of a series of plates with corrugated flat flow passages (Fig. 13–6). The hot and cold fluids flow in alternate passages and thus each cold fluid stream is surrounded by two hot fluid streams, resulting in very effective heat transfer. Also, plate heat exchangers can grow with increasing demand for heat transfer by simply mounting more plates. They are well suited for liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger applications, provided that the hot and cold fluid streams are at about the same pressure.

Another type of heat exchanger that involves the alternate passage of the hot and cold fluid streams through the same flow area is the regenerative heat exchanger. The static-type regenerative heat exchanger is basically a porous mass that has a large heat storage capacity, such as a ceramic wire mesh. Hot and cold fluids flow through this porous mass alternatively. Heat is transferred from the hot fluid to the matrix of the regenerator during the flow of the hot fluid, and from the matrix to the cold fluid during the flow of the cold fluid. Thus, the matrix serves as a temporary heat storage medium.


The dynamic-type regenerator involves a rotating drum and continuous flow of the hot and cold fluid through different portions of the drum so that any portion of the drum passes periodically through the hot stream, storing heat, and then through the cold stream, rejecting this stored heat. Again the drum serves as the medium to transport the heat from the hot to the cold fluid stream.

Heat exchangers are often given specific names to reflect the specific application for which they are used. For example, a condenser is a heat exchanger in which one of the fluids is cooled and condenses as it flows through the heat exchanger. A boiler is another heat exchanger in which one of the fluids absorbs heat and vaporizes. A space radiator is a heat exchanger that transfers heat from the hot fluid to the surrounding space by radiation.


A heat exchanger typically involves two flowing fluids separated by a solid wall. Heat is first transferred from the hot fluid to the wall by convection, through the wall by conduction, and from the wall to the cold fluid again by convection. Any radiation effects are usually included in the convection heat transfer coefficients.

The thermal resistance network associated with this heat transfer process involves two convection and one conduction resistances, as shown in Figure 13–7. Here the subscripts i and o represent the inner and outer surfaces of the inner tube.








Heat exchangers are commonly used in practice, and an engineer often finds himself or herself in a position to select a heat exchanger that will achieve a specified temperature change in a fluid stream of known mass flow rate, or to predict the outlet temperatures of the hot and cold fluid streams in a specified

heat exchanger.

In upcoming sections, we will discuss the two methods used in the analysis of heat exchangers. Of these, the log mean temperature difference (or LMTD) method is best suited for the first task and the effectiveness–NTU method for the second task as just stated. But first we present some general considerations.

Heat exchangers usually operate for long periods of time with no change in their operating conditions. Therefore, they can be modelled as steady-flow devices. As such, the mass flow rate of each fluid remains constant, and the fluid properties such as temperature and velocity at any inlet or outlet remain the same. Also, the fluid streams experience little or no change in their velocities and elevations, and thus the kinetic and potential energy changes are negligible. The specific heat of a fluid, in general, changes with temperature. But, in a specified temperature range, it can be treated as a constant at some average value with little loss in accuracy. Axial heat conduction along the tube is usually insignificant and can be considered negligible. Finally, the outer surface of the heat exchanger is assumed to be perfectly insulated, so that there is no heat loss to the surrounding medium, and any heat transfer occurs between the two fluids only.

The idealizations stated above are closely approximated in practice, and they greatly simplify the analysis of a heat exchanger with little sacrifice of accuracy. Therefore, they are commonly used. Under these assumptions, the first law of thermodynamics requires that the rate of heat transfer from the hot fluid be equal to the rate of heat transfer to the cold one. That is,


The heat capacity rate of a fluid stream represents the rate of heat transfer needed to change the temperature of the fluid stream by 1°C as it flows through a heat exchanger. Note that in a heat exchanger, the fluid with a large heat capacity rate will experience a small temperature change, and the fluid with a small heat capacity rate will experience a large temperature change.

Therefore, doubling the mass flow rate of a fluid while leaving everything else unchanged will halve the temperature change of that fluid. With the definition of the heat capacity rate above, Eqs. 13-9 and 13-10 can also be expressed as


That is, the heat transfer rate in a heat exchanger is equal to the heat capacity rate of either fluid multiplied by the temperature change of that fluid. Note that the only time the temperature rise of a cold fluid is equal to the temperature drop of the hot fluid is when the heat capacity rates of the two fluids are equal to each other (Fig. 13–12).

Two special types of heat exchangers commonly used in practice are condensers and boilers. One of the fluids in a condenser or a boiler undergoes a phase-change process, and the rate of heat transfer is expressed as clip_image048clip_image050clip_image052clip_image054clip_image056











The task is completed by selecting a heat exchanger that has a heat transfer surface area equal to or larger than As. A second kind of problem encountered in heat exchanger analysis is the determination of the heat transfer rate and the outlet temperatures of the hot and cold fluids for prescribed fluid mass flow rates and inlet temperatures when the type and size of the heat exchanger are specified. The heat transfer surface area A of the heat exchanger in this case is known, but the outlet temperatures are not. Here the task is to determine the heat transfer performance of a specified heat exchanger or to determine if a heat exchanger available in storage will do the job.

The LMTD method could still be used for this alternative problem, but the procedure would require tedious iterations, and thus it is not practical. In an attempt to eliminate the iterations from the solution of such problems, Kays and London came up with a method in 1955 called the effectiveness–NTU method, which greatly simplified heat exchanger analysis. This method is based on a dimensionless parameter called the heat transfer effectiveness clip_image088, defined as,





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