Cost-saving focus prompts heat exchanger design

12th April 2019 By: Khutso Maphatsoe - journalist

The increased importance of reducing capital, operating and maintenance costs has made the assessment of multiple options and variable parameters for heat exchanger design essential to find the most optimum solution, says engineering company Steinmüller Africa boiler process group leader Warwick Ham.

“Our designs include tube sheet type and header type feed water heaters. We have also designed heaters with multiple zones and different heater orientations. Recently, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of the new designs has been added to ensure that we provide optimum cost and reliable heaters.”

Steinmüller stays ahead of its competitors by ensuring that its experienced engineers use the latest available computer and software technology to provide optimised designs for the client during the quotation phase, notes Ham.

This is done by working closely with clients, while the company’s designs are reassessed during the detail design phase to ensure that it has catered fully to client requirements, says Ham. Once installed, the heaters are subjected to rigorous performance testing to prove compliance with the client performance requirements.

He explains that typical heat exchangers are designed to last for 20 years. If operated and maintained correctly, their life span can be increased through the required performance monitoring and maintenance.

Replacement heat exchangers are often required to be designed with new operating parameters, together with varying fluid properties and the latest applicable standards. The new heaters also need to be designed to fit within current space constraints of plants, adds Ham.

He says boiler designs face several challenges that include large variations in fuel quality, with a steady trend towards lower fuel quality, severe operating and maintenance cost constraints and increasingly stringent emission limits.

Steinmüller offers a total engineering package for boilers and heat exchangers in the utility and industrial industries, including investigations to full engineering design for plant modifications, as well as new equipment.

“We provide plant assessment based on plant performance measurement, coupled with thermal, fluid dynamic and CFD modelling,” he says.

The company also provides a well-trained and highly experienced maintenance team that can provide 24/7 maintenance services for multiple plant components, such as boilers, burners, mills, air heaters and valves, as well as high- and low-pressure piping.