Local heat exchanger group HGF Plate Heat Exchangers (HGF-PHE) plans to launch a new range of plate heat exchangers, manufactured by French engineering group Vitherm, onto the South African market.
“These products have gained significant traction in the global market in a short time, owing to technological breakthroughs achieved by the manufacturer,” says Vitherm product manager for South Africa Ryan van Zyl.
He adds that Vitherm’s fully welded heat exchanger, the Weldpack, offers a compact solution to working with high operating pressures and temperatures with liquid mediums that would usually damage interplate gaskets.
It was developed and patented in France over a five-year period.
“The Weldpack allows for high performance in heat-transfer applications at a fraction of the size of traditional heat exchangers and its patented design provides end-users with good reliability.
“Weldpack offers clients years of reliable service under the harshest conditions, something for which the global industry has been striving for decades,” says Van Zyl.
He notes the Weldpack has been used by a list of blue-chip users globally, including industry giants like Sasol, Perenco, BP, Ineos, Formosa Plastics and Achema.
Further, despite the product being launched in South Africa only now, it has already been well received, with orders already placed for Sasol’s water recovery project in Secunda.
Vitherm worked in collaboration with Sasol, industrial group ThyssenKrupp and corporate finance company Moody’s to design, certify and deliver the unit to Sasol.
Vitherm Africa director James Dey points out that the Weldpack meets the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Section VIII Division 1, European Pressure Equipment Directive and the EN 13445 standards, as well as other international standards.
“International quality group Lloyd’s Register certified the Weldpack’s performance and pressures, during regular burst tests at Vitherm’s Saint Geoire facility, near Grenoble, in France. Vitherm is ecstatic about the results attained by Lloyd’s Register, as this shows the benefits of the patented design and unique manufacturing process,” says Dey.
He adds that Vitherm uses the latest micro-plasma and cold metal transfer welding technologies to ensure the Weldpack’s unique joint and corner technologies are welded precisely, with little or no material change to the alloys in each unit.
The heat exchanger’s design allows for up to five times more heat-transfer efficiency than regular shell and tube heat exchangers, states Dey, adding that this makes it a suit- able solution for a variety of applications, including condensation and evaporation.
“Design engineers have a new level of flexibility to work with when they are design- ing heat exchangers because the Weldpack can be installed vertically or horizontally in the most efficient locations; for example, on top of distillation columns – something that is simply not possible with shell and tube, and in many cases, plate heat exchangers,” he states.
The Weldpack’s high efficiency allows for a large heat-transfer area in a small footprint. With a maximum footprint of about 3 m2, the Weldpack is able to provide from 2.4 m2 to 1 018 m2 of heat transfer.
Dey notes that Vitherm’s heat exchangers are available in a range of plate materials, from traditional materials like stainless steel and titanium, to more exotic materials like Hastelloy.
“The design temperatures of the Weldpack range from –20 ºC to 180 ºC and pressures from vacuum to 42 bar.
“From offering condensation solutions and highly volatile organic compound appli- cations, to reducing energy requirements that allow more effective heat recovery from high-heat applications and reducing raw- material requirements by up to 75%, the Weldpack offers a multipronged approach to improved environmental compliance,” Dey emphasises.
The Vitherm client base spans several industries, including the petrochemicals; food-oil processing; power generation; chemicals; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; marine; and diesel industries.
“Not only does Vitherm have decades of experience in servicing this customer base but it is now also supported by HGF-PHE in South Africa, through our abilities in heat exchanger technical support, service and commissioning to the process industry,” says Dey.
He adds that together with HGF-PHE, Vitherm has provided significant invest- ment in the manufacture of Vitherm heat exchangers in Africa. HGF-PHE is doubling the size of its service centre in Jet Park, Gauteng, where a multitude of services are offered on all makes of heat exchangers, including those of Vitherm.
“We are very excited about supporting Vitherm in South Africa and bringing it to the forefront of the industry. We now have a fully capacitated local manufacturing division for plate heat exchangers, which allows us to produce proudly South African plate heat exchangers, exceeding the highest levels of quality and performance,” says Dey.
Vitherm has also invested in a permanent engineering facility in Jet Park to ensure that all process engineering needs for African clients, and often global clients, are handled from South Africa.
“Vitherm’s investment in the local industry is testament to its belief and confidence in South Africa’s people and the industry. The projects that it has already completed in the country show that this has been a good investment.
“We believe that only investment and collaboration of this nature will ensure an ever-diminishing skills gap in South Africa and we make it our priority to ensure this investment is implemented as effectively as possible,” says Dey.