Tempco Blog articles

Plate heat exchangers and brewing, beer and thermal energy

The hot season and summer have just started, so it’s natural to think about a refreshing beer, and in particular about plate heat exchangers applications in brewing. Let’s then go more in depth with an application of plate heat exchangers for the food & beverage industry, that got very much interest in our last video on this topic.

Brewing involves in fact a series of thermal processes, quite complex and very interesting. Tempco has a long expertise in this field, with several applications deployed in the past and also a production on our own, and still today we have a brewery partner that produces a special beer that we gift our clients or employ in marketing campaigns. In particular, plate heat exchangers have a crucial role in brewing employed for the cooling of the wort before it enters the fermentation step.

Depending on the kind of yeast and the type of beer we want to produce, wort have to be cooled at different temperature levels. There are indeed high fermentation beers and low fermentation beers. For wort cooling at the proper temperature required, plate heat exchangers are employed, and then wort is stored and maintained at the right temperature inside the fermenting tanks.

 

 

Small breweries, craft brewing and also home-brewing often employ small copper brazed plate heat exchangers, which is not the most suitable solution in terms of sanitizing. Brazed plate exchangers are indeed a monobloc, single-piece units, that cannot be opened for a proper cleaning. At the end of each single brewing process it is then necessary a good flushing of the exchanger, ensuring that every leftover is removed, otherwise it can contaminate the next brewing cycle.

In industrial beer production, wort cooling is achieved using gasketed plate heat exchangers that can be inspected, opened and properly cleaned and washed. Depending on the type of beer and the fermentation temperature level required, on the secondary circuit of the exchanger can be employed chiller water, very cold water for low fermentation beers, or main water and tower water, in case of high fermentation beers.

 

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

High temperature brazed plate exchangers in the hydrogen industry and CO2 refrigeration

Brazed plate heat exchangers (BPHE) for high temperatures are a key asset in two main and emerging applications within the ecological transition, being it CO2 refrigeration and fuel cells using hydrogen as a renewable power source. Two renewable sources that are crucial for sustainability and to contrast the effects of climate change in power generation and industrial refrigeration.

CO2 employed as a natural refrigerant gas (R-744) is an excellent alternative to traditional synthetic refrigerants (CFD and HCFC), offering a 0 value of Ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a GWP (Global warming potential) of about 1, far less than that of traditional refrigerants. CO2 has also a very high thermal transfer coeffient, much higher than synthetic refrigerants, is stable and non-toxic, but has to work at very high pressure levels, thus requiring higher standards for the design of refrigeration systems and components. Otherwise, its excellent flow performances allow to significantly reduce the size of compressors and refrigeration equipments, making the overall system more compact.

Furthermore, CO2 is a natural working medium of easy access in the environment, and is also a by-product of many industrial processes and factories, so that refrigeration using CO2 represents an excellent solution for the recovery and recycling of exhaust gas.

Tempco scambiatori saldobrasati fuell cell

Another very important application for high temperature brazed plate exchangers involves fuel cells, using hydrogen which is a optimal candidate for energy of the future as alternative to fossil fuels. Fuel cells are zero emission power generation systems that employ an electrochemical process to obtain electricity and heat from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, generating water as by-product. Therefore a totally green and clean power generation solution.

Nowadays there are several and different fuel cells technologies deployed, and brazed plate exchangers are employed in a series of tasks such as pre-heating of air and fuel, cooling of the cell and humidity and vapour management, through energy recovery of the generated heat. All of these applications have in common high temperatures requirements, as well as high corrosion resistance.
In the schemes below, there is a series of examples of brazed plate exchangers applications in different fuel cell related technologies, used in micro-grids, sustainable mobility and for hydrogen production.

Tempco scambiatori saldobrasati fuell cell SOFC

Among them there are Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) employing exchangers for air pre-heating and heat recovery of thermal energy generated by the oxidation process of hydrogen. In Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), high temperature brazed plate exchangers are used for heat recovery aimed for water heating. Brazed plate exchangers provide hydrogen pret-heating and exhaust gas heat recovery in trucks using fuel cells, making heavy-transportation sustainable. Finally, brazed plate exchangers are used for ammonia pre-heating in NH3 cracker systems, employed for hydrogen production from NH3 molecules.

Tempco scambiatori saldobrasati fuell cell PEMFC

Tempco scambiatori saldobrasati fuell cell truck

Tempco scambiatori saldobrasati fuell cell NH3 cracker

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Steam heating in monofluid thermoregulation, video and interactive 3D models

We’ve realized a series of videos showing the schematic working layout and the fluids flow in some of our Tempco thermal machines. This first one here shows in particular the actual functioning of a Tempco TREG HCST monofluid thermoregulating unit, with steam heating circuit.

Monofluid thermoregulation units have been the topic of a series of articles and videos in our Tempco Blog. This kind of solution, often employed for temperature regulation of reactors in chemical and pharmaceutical processes, offers the advantage of working with a unique working fluid, which is regulated at the specific temperature required at any different step of the production process. Cutting times required to empty the jackets of the reactors and to fill the plant with different working fluids.

The video shows the circuit for water inlet, cold when entering the unit, which gets heated using a plate heat exchanger with steam as heating fluid. The circuit dedicated to the discharge of the condensation eliminates water produced by the cooling of the steam during the thermal transfer process. Water heated at the required temperature therefore goes out of the thermoregulating unit to be employed within the production process. Electronic control through PID thermoregulators allows precisions of temperature regulation of ± 0,5° C, ensuring a very fine and precise regulation of defined temperature cycles required for the production of pharmaceuticals, APIs and chemicals.

 

 

For some models of Tempco thermoregulating units, interactive 3D models are available in dedicated pages of the Tempco website, as for TCPU HC units pictured below here. Graphic animation allows to navigate and explore the machines, also zooming on details of the construction and engineering of these thermoregulating units. And so, have fun and enjoy the navigation!

Tempco centraline termoregolazione TCPU HC modello 3D

Tempco centraline termoregolazione TCPU HC 3D model

Tempco centraline termoregolazione TCPU HC modello 3D interattivo

 

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Compressed air cooling in microprocessors production

Within a project for the enhancement of a microprocessors production plant, a key component in very high demand recently due to the global components shortage in industry, we have provided a plate heat exchanger aimed for compressed air cooling of a production process compressor.

We have often talked about cooling of compressors in industrial environments in the past, and specifically about heat recovery from lubricating oil in compressors, that can achieve high and interesting temperatures for energy recovery applications.

In this case, this plate heat exchanger is employed for compressed air cooling, and Tempco has already a series of references of this kind of application. In compressed air cooling, heat exchangers offer indeed an excellent thermal efficiency of plates, allowing to achieve the perfect efficiency for pushed cooling applications involved in this field.
In this kind of application is very important to rely on a proper rate of pressure drop, otherwise the sizing will be affected by the limits of hydraulic passages between plates. But performances are very remarkable in terms of thermal transfer.

Tempco aria compressa raffreddamento microprocessori

Tempco scambiatore raffreddamento aria compressa microprocessori

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Beer, wine and exchangers, thermal treatments in food processing

Applications within the food and beverage industry widely employ heat exchangers, both plate heat exchangers or shell and tube exchangers. This is due to the fact that food products, and beverages such as beer and wine, are all subject to special thermal treatments required for their processing, in order to achieve defined temperatures to enable some reactions or stabilizations, or also in order to ensure their correct conservation.

For example, once the hopping cycle is done, beer has to be cooled before it can be introduced into fermentation equipments, bringing it at the correct temperature required for the fermentation process. Wine is subject to aging processes, or also pasteurization, and each thermal treatment is necessary to obtain organoleptic characteristics that make it a fine quality product.

Another example is milk, which has to be pasteurized using thermal cycles at high temperature and then at low temperature, and then a conservation phase for a certain period of time at a specific temperature.

This is to explain that all of these products are subject to thermal treatments aimed to enhance their characteristics or also to guarantee their proper long-term conservation and food safety of the product on the shelf of a store.

All of these thermal treatments are achieved using heat exchangers, that have to be realized in special and dedicated executions. Being aimed to work in direct contact with food products, indeed these have to be certified exchangers, made using certified materials and with specific surface treatments and finishings, being free of hollow areas and spots ensuring a smooth design where food or dirt can’t accumulate, possibly leading to bacterials proliferation. Furthermore, seals have to be FDA approved, or by some other else responsible subject, in order to guarantee they are suitable and compatible with food contact.

Also the connections have to be of a certain kind, enduring easy disassembling and cleaning operations, and usually the overall construction of the equipments is made in stainless steel. These are in fact equipments aimed to frequent and constant sanitization and washing operations, in order to guarantee maximum safety and compliance with hygienic requirements for food processing.

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Special plate heat exchangers for oil&gas applications

Plate heat exchangers are quite simple equipments with a very consolidated technology for thermal transfer in industrial processes. The kind of application can anyway require very special adjustments and engineering attentions that can turn a common plate heat exchanger into something very special. A typical example is the oil&gas industry, which entails a very much more accurate design of a plate heat exchanger, with a series of special engineering features:

  • Anti-corrosion coating cycles (such as for C5 M environments)
  • Stainless steel nameplates and data plates
  • Line connections made in AISI 316
  • Thermal security coefficients increased (suitable fouling factor rate)
  • Earthing systems
  • Declaration of conformity for ATEX area installation
  • Certifications of materials

These features are referred to the construction and selection of constructive materials of the plate heat exchanger, but also to all the engineering evaluations and the technical documentation required to ensure the exchanger is suitable to cope with the challenging conditions of the harsh industrial environment.

Tempco Scambiatori di calore a piastre petrolchimico

Tempco Scambiatori a piastre petrolchimico targhetta inox

Tempco Scambiatori a piastre petrolchimico

 

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Fluid’s flow in heat exchangers, counter-flow vs. parallel-flow

What’s the difference between counter-flow and parallel-flow heat exchangers, and why and when the two typologies of thermal transfer are employed?

We’re talking about the flowing of fluids in heat exchangers, which means counter-flow and parallel-flow exchangers. The meaning is said in the word itself: in a counter-flow exchanger, the two fluids exchanging thermal energy each other flow within the exchanger in opposite directions.

This is easy to understand with plate heat exchangers, where counter-flow means that one fluid flows top-down and the other goes bottom-up. In one-pass shell and tube exchangers, there is a fluid flowing inside the shell and the other flowing inside the tubes in the opposite direction. A little more complicated to understand with multi-pass exchangers. In an air-cooled exchanger, a finned exchanger, finally, the air flows in the opposite direction compared to the water.

Parallel-flow is the exact contrary working principle, with both fluids flowing in the same direction.

The most relevant difference is that a counter-flow exchanger achieves higher thermal transfer rates, allowing to obtain output temperatures of one fluid very close to the inlet temperature of the other. And it works for both cooling and heating. In addition, in plate heat exchangers is it also possible to have temperature crossing, obtaining much higher efficiency and thermal transfer coefficients than comparable temperature crossing in other kind of exchangers.

Parallel-flow thermal transfer doesn’t therefore allow temperature crossing, because the temperatures of the two fluids will tend to be very close during the overall process, from start to finish. This is employed when a process requires heating, cooling or thermal transfer tasks that are less intense and invasive, and so more ‘soft’, involving a lower thermal impact upon the product which gets cooled or heated. For example, thermal transfers in the pharma sector or the food industry, where the product to be cooled/heated needs specific thermal schemes with no shocks, that otherwise could cause an alteration of the product itself compromising the quality of the final product.

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.

Newly refurbished References section in Tempco’s website

A new and renewed section dedicated to the References of Tempco’s application in a series of industrial sectors, already available in the Italian section of the site, is being added and updated on our Tempco website.

The References section includes a complete series of success cases deployed by Tempco over the years for the Food and beverage industry, the Automotive sector, chemical and oil & gas, applications for renewable energy, pharmaceutical production, rubber and plastics industry, paper, metallurgy, power generation, research and engineering and the textile industry.

A very wide and complete amount of applications is featured in the section, classified by industrial sector of destination and employing the whole range of thermal energy management equipments and machinery offered by Tempco: plate heat exchangers, shell and tube exchangers and dimple jacket exchangers, thermoregulating units and chillers, evaporative towers, free cooling and energy recovery solutions, high efficiency cooling and heating equipments.

Each applications is completed with a description of the kind of industrial process involved and its requirements in terms of temperature regulation, the solution that was designed and the machines and equipments employed in the making of the plant. An overview sheet, that can be downloaded in PDF format, offers then a summery of the characteristics of each application, providing a complete view of the several solutions for thermal energy management in all industrial sectors in which Tempo operates.

We therefore gladly invite you to discover the wide range of industrial thermoregulation and temperature regulation applications developed by Tempco, always being updated, and enjoy the navigation!

Tempco References of thermal energy management and temperature regulation in industrial production

Tempco referenze applicazioni industriali regolazione temperatura

 

Emission reduction from refrigerants in industrial chillers

Refrigerants employed in chillers for industrial refrigeration applications are an important source of greenhouse gases once they are released in the environment. That’s why manufacturers of brazed plate heat exchangers, a key component in refrigerating groups and chillers, are committed to deploy more sustainable solutions aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of industrial refrigeration.

Brazed plate exchangers are employed in chillers in function of condensers, in case of water condensation, or as evaporators, which means they function as exchangers between the evaporating refrigerant and the fluid to be cooled, being it water, non-freezing solutions or oil.

The reduction of the environmental impact of industrial refrigeration is possible thanks to the use of micro channel exchangers, plate heat exchangers having a plate design with small pressing depth, approximately 2 mm, or 2,5, 3 mm depending on the type of fluid employed by the heat exchanger.

The challenge is then to create a machine able to ensure the same thermal efficiency but using a reduced amount of refrigerants. The aim is to have less amounts of freon or refrigerant gases in case of release in the environment. Having smaller and tiny passages between the plates of the exchanger allows therefore to have reduced amount of refrigerant flowing, achieving the same thermal work.

 

Usually, the size of these channels in exchangers must have a certain diameter, in order to avoid fouling and scaling effects, depending on the type of application. In case of chillers, the water flows within the exchangers in a closed-loop circuit and gets filtrated at the beginning, then remaining always the same re-circulated. So that it barely contains particles that can cause fouling or scaling. Furthermore, the exchanger/evaporator works at very low temperature levels, surely lower than temperatures causing carbonates precipitation, thus a further reason why these exchangers are not prone to fouling.

For all of the above reasons, that’s why it’s possible to employ much smaller passages, in fact reducing the amount of refrigerant that flows within the exchanger creating refrigerating groups characterized with a much lower carbon footprint.

Preventive maintenance for heat exchangers efficiency

Preventive maintenance is a very hot topic nowadays, or even predictive maintenance where Industry 4.0 concepts are adopted with data collection and analytics using AI in IoT industrial production contexts. A proper maintenance enabling the prevention of potential problems on industrial machinery and equipments is indeed essential in order to avoid downtimes in production, with related high economic losses.

In case of plate heat exchangers, preventive maintenance can in addition ensure relevant advantages in terms of energy saving, because it ensures to leverage the thermal transfer at its maximum efficiency, as it was originally designed.

The monitoring of some key parameters allows in fact to evaluate the most suitable moment to proceed with a maintenance intervention:

  • increasing values of flow rate pressure drop, compared to design values
  • diminished performances in terms of output temperature levels, compared to design values

Scambiatori a piastre fouling sporcamento manutenzione preventiva

 

These are two main KPI to check in order to determine if the exchanger need a cleaning and washing service. These two parameters are a key indicator for each kind of heat exchanger: at same capacity, is in fact clear that fouling and scaling on thermal transfer surfaces cause an increase of the pressure drop, being it the pressure difference between inlet and outlet of the fluid. In addition, the thickness of the scaling generates a sort of isolating effect, decreasing the thermal transfer efficiency rate of the exchanger.

Stay updated on the latest applications by subscribing our monthly Tempco Newsletter – Solid Temperature.