Basics of Heat Exchangers

Our company slogan says: ”Optimized Heat Exchanger Solutions”. But what does this actually mean? What is a heat exchanger? If you are an expert in the field, you are probably shaking your head to such a silly question, but I do believe there are people out there who do not live and breath heat exchange. And this post is for those people. So ladies and gents: here is a short introduction to the very basics of heat exchangers.

In short, a heat exchanger is a component for transferring heat between two mediums of different temperatures. The transfer happens either through conduction, radiation or through convection. Conduction and convection are probably the ones that don’t sound too familiar, so we’ll cover those briefly. In conduction, heat is always transferred from a higher temperature to a lower temperature, so from hot to cold and trying to even out the difference in temperatures. In convection, the heat energy is transferred away from the source of heat in a gas or liquid flow. This is caused by difference in temperatures, which in turn causes differences in densities. For example; think about how warm air always tends to rise upwards.


Heat exchangers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and their working principles are very different. They differ also in terms of use, flow pattern and the used transfer medium. As an example, we’ll cover the workings of a counterflow air to air heat exchanger. Quite a term, but it pretty much sums up the different features? In this type of heat exchanger, thin plates separate the airflows. When used in ventilation system, the other flow carries exhaust air from inside and the other one fresh air from outside. The two airflows never mix, but heat is exchanged between them, when heat from exhaust air is transferred to the cold outside air. As a result, the house gets a supply of fresh air with the proper temperature. In this case, plate heat exchanger helps to reduce the heat loss in ventilation, thus improving energy efficiency and reducing costs. Cleary a smarter way to get fresh air than just opening the windows. Which brings us to concept of annual heat recovery energy efficiency. Meaning how much of energy needed by the ventilation system can be covered through heat recovery. Plate Heat Exchangers have high efficiency, so they are good a choice to be used as heat recovery units.

The functionality of plate heat exchangers can be optimized and customized in several ways, for example adjusting the pattern in the plates or the spacing between them, but since this post was all about the basics, we’ll focus on them some other time. And though we didn’t even begin to cover them, all the products from Ekocoil Group are in fact some types of heat exchangers.



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