Tube and Shell Heat Exchanger

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Types of Heat Exchanger Construction
Although heat exchangers come in every shape and size imaginable, the construction of most heat exchangers fall into one of two categories: tube and shell, or plate. As in all mechanical devices, each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Tube and Shell
The most basic and the most common type of heat exchanger construction is the tube and shell, as shown in Figure above. This type of heat exchanger consists of a set of tubes in a container called a shell. The fluid flowing inside the tubes is called the tube side fluid and the fluid flowing on the outside of the tubes is the shell side fluid. At the ends of the tubes, the tube side fluid is separated from the shell side fluid by the tube sheet(s). The tubes are rolled and press-fitted or welded into the tube sheet to provide a leak tight seal. In systems where the two fluids are at vastly different pressures, the higher pressure fluid is typically directed through the tubes and the lower pressure fluid is circulated on the shell side.

This is due to economy, because the heat exchanger tubes can be made to withstand higher pressures than the shell of the heat exchanger for a much lower cost. The support plates shown on Figure 1 also act as baffles to direct the flow of fluid within the shell back and forth across the tubes.