Chemical Engineering Question:

What is some good advice for specifying allowable pressure drops in shell and tube exchangers for heavy hydrocarbons?


Frequently process engineers specify 5 or 10 PSI for allowable pressure drop inside heat exchanger tubing. For heavy liquids that have fouling characteristics, this is usually not enough. There are cases where the fouling excludes using tabulators and using more than the customary tube pressure drop is cost effective. This is especially true if there is a relatively higher heat transfer coefficient on the outside of the tubing. The following example illustrates how Allowable pressure drop can have a big effect on the surface calculation. A propane chiller was cooling a gas treating liquid that had an average viscosity Of 7.5 cP. The effect on the calculated surface was as follows: Allowable tube pressure drop Exchanger surface 5 PSI 4012 Sq. Ft. 25 PSI 2104 Sq. Ft. 50 PSI 1419 Sq. Ft. You can see that using 25-PSI pressure drop reduced the surface by nearly one-half. This would result in a price reduction for the heat exchanger of approximately 40%. This savings offset the cost of the pumping power

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What is a good approximation for the heat transfer coefficient of hydrocarbons inside 3/4" tubes?Is it ever advantageous to use shells in series even though it may not be necessary?