In addition to the thermodynamic advantages offered by plate heat exchangers in hydraulics applications, in substitution of shell and plate exchangers, there are also other main advantages related to mechanical and installation aspects.
In hydraulics, the goal is to maintain at a certain temperature level the oil, which provides mechanical work in operating machines. A plate heat exchanger is much more compact then a shell and plate exchanger with the same thermal capacity, with clearly a direct impact on the size of the hydraulic units within the plant, which will be smaller and more compact.
Another huge advantage is the fact that all of the four nozzles are placed on the same side of the exchanger, two for the water and two for the oil. This allows to build the depth of the exchanger based on the thermal capacity required. It permits machine builders and plant builders to make some standardization, which means that they can adopt a standard layout employing a certain kind of exchanger, and depending on the power capacity of the pumps installed they can increase or decrease the number of plates with no variations to the design of the piping.
Moreover, the use of plate heat exchangers instead of shell and plate ones in hydraulics makes maintenance and substitution operations easier: is it indeed sufficient to disconnect the piping located on the same side of the exchanger, extract the old exchanger and insert the new one. In addition, in case of big hydraulic plants, where a switch from brazed plate to inspectable plate exchangers is required, this advantage is even more evident due to the fact that it allows to correct possible mistakes on the engineering, or facing increases in power capacity. This is possible because an inspectable plate heat exchanger can be easily expanded by increasing the number of plates, with no variations on the piping layout and thus offering great flexibility.
To solve a similar issue having a shell and plate heat exchanger on a hydraulic plant leads to great problems instead, because the new exchanger will be longer, or bigger, with a different shell, forcing the machine builder or the plant engineer to revise the overall layout of the piping.
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