Showing posts with label heat exchanger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heat exchanger. Show all posts

Heat Processing of Industrial Fluids

gas fired steam boilers in industrial facility
Steam produced by gas fired industrial boilers is a
commonly applied means of delivering heat energy
Heat, as an entity, was not always something seen as a partially visible potential indicator of changing weather patterns. The now outdated caloric theory portrayed heat as a measure of an invisible fluid called the caloric, typifying it as a solely physical property. Thermodynamics have surpassed the caloric theory and rendered it obsolete, but the understanding and manipulation of heat in industrial settings, especially pertaining to fluids, is a central part of some of the world’s most important industries. Specifically, the measurement and control of heat related to fluid processing is a vital industrial function, and relies on regulating the heat content of a fluid to achieve a desired temperature and outcome.

The manipulation of a substance’s heat content is based on the central principle of specific heat, which is a measure of heat energy content per unit of mass. Heat is a quantified expression of a system’s internal energy. Though heat is not considered a fluid, it behaves, and can be manipulated, in some similar respects. Heat “flows” from points of higher temperature to those of lower temperature, just as a fluid will flow from a point of higher pressure to one of lower pressure.

A heat exchanger provides an example of how the temperature of two fluids can be manipulated to regulate the flow or transfer of heat. Despite the design differences in heat exchanger types, the basic rules and objectives are the same. Heat energy from one fluid is passed to another across a barrier that prevents contact and mixing of the two fluids. By regulating temperature and flow of one stream, an operator can exert control over the heat content, or temperature, of another. These flows can either be gases or liquids. Heat exchangers raise or lower the temperature of these streams by transferring heat between them.

Recognizing the heat content of a fluid as a representation of energy helps with understanding how the moderation of energy content can be vital to process control. Controlling temperature in a process can also provide control of reactions among process components, or physical properties of fluids that can lead to desired or improved outcomes.

Heat can be added to a system in a number of familiar ways. Heat exchangers enable the use of steam, gas, hot water, oil, and other fluids to deliver heat energy. Other methods may employ direct contact between a heated object (such as an electric heating element) or medium and the process fluid. While these means sound different, they all achieve heat transfer by applying at least one of three core transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction involves the transfer of heat energy through physical contact among materials. Shell and tube heat exchangers rely on the conduction of heat by the tube walls to transfer energy between the fluid inside the tube and the fluid contained within the shell. Convection relates to heat transfer due to the movement of fluids, the mixing of fluids with differing temperature. Radiant heat transfer relies on electromagnetic waves and does not require a transfer medium, such as air or liquid. These central explanations are the foundation for the various processes used to regulate systems in industrial control environments.

The manner in which heat is to be applied or removed is an important consideration in the design of a process system. The ability to control temperature and rate at which heat is transferred in a process depends in large part on the methods, materials, and media used to accomplish the task. Selecting and properly applying the best suited controls, instruments and equipment is a key element of successful process operation. Share your challenges with application experts, combining your own process knowledge and experience with their product expertise to develop effective solutions.

Case Study From CSB: Industrial Plant Heat Exchanger Explosion

Two large shell and tube heat exchangers at industrial site
Shell and tube heat exchangers
Industrial accidents, whether minor or catastrophic, can serve as sources of learning when analyzed and studied. Operators, owners, and technicians involved with industrial chemical operations have a degree of moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to conduct work in a reasonably and predictably safe manner without endangering personnel, property, or the environment. Part of  a diligent safety culture should include reviewing industrial accidents at other facilities. There is much to learn from these unfortunate events, even when they happen in an industry that may seem somewhat removed from our own.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, or CSB, is an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical accidents. Below, find one of their video reenactments and analysis of an explosion that occurred at a Louisiana chemical processing plant in 2013. A portion of the reenactment shows how a few seemingly innocuous oversights can combine with other unrecognized conditions that result in a major conflagration.

Check out the video and sharpen your senses to evaluate potential trouble spots in your own operation.

Opportunity For Improving Power Plant Heat Rate

electric power plant
Opportunities for improving efficiency at power plants
The large scale of most power plants provides a environment in which financial justification, or payback, of attempts to improve energy consumption can be justified. Even small improvements in efficiency can yield very substantial returns. The challenge to engineering and management is to select the projects which have the best overall probability of success and can be integrated into the process with the least amount of disturbance.

One area of the steam cycle that may be a candidate for improvement is the feedwater heater. This device is essentially a shell and tube heat exchanger used to recover waste heat from the process and use it to preheat boiler feedwater. Maintaining the correct liquid level in the feedwater heater is a key element of extracting maximum performance. Magnetrol, a globally recognized leader in the development of level measurement equipment, has produced a video showing how their technology can be used in an advantageous manner to others in regulating feedwater heater liquid level and achieving maximum efficiency.