Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Piping: A brief Presentation

Shell & Tube Heat Exchangers are the most frequently used Heat Exchangers in Process Plants. The purpose of this presentation is to provide guidelines for Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Piping Layout. Click here to get a preliminary idea about shell and tube heat exchangers.Opens in a new tab.

Use of Shell & Tube Heat Exchangers

All Heat exchangers are used to transfer heat from one fluid to another.

They are generally named as cooler, chiller, condenser, heater, reboiler, waste heat boiler, steam generator & vaporizer in the process plant.

Types of Heat exchangers

The most commonly used types of  heat exchangers are

  • Shell & Tube heat exchanger
  • Air-cooled heat exchanger
  • Plate type heat exchanger
  • Spiral heat exchanger
  • Double pipe heat exchanger

Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Construction (Fig. 1)

Diagram showing construction of a typical Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger
Fig.1 :Diagram showing construction of a typical Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger

These heat exchangers are generally designed, fabricated, inspected and tested as per API 660 / EN-ISO 16812 / TEMA. The DEP for the design & construction of the shell & tube heat exchanger is DEP 31.21.01.30 – Gen.

General Guidelines for selection for tube side & shell side fluids:

  • Clean fluid through shell & dirty fluid through tubes
  • Corrosive fluid through tubes as it is easy for cleaning & allows the use of carbon steel for shell
  • Water through shell & process liquid through Only seawater through the tube side
  • High-pressure fluid through tubes which allows for min. the wall thickness of the shell

The layout of shell & tube heat exchangers other than in banks

As per the exchanger positions in a process plant the following general classification can be made:

  1. Exchangers which should be next to other equipment: e. g. Vertical Reboiler
  2. Exchangers which should be close to other equipment: e. g. Overhead condenser
  3. Exchangers located between other process equipment: e. g. The exchanger with process lines connected to both shell & tube side
  4. Exchangers located between process equipment and the unit limit:e.g. Product coolers

Establishing elevations for the exchanger

  • Where process requirement dictates the elevation, it is usually noted on the PEFS
  • The grade is the best elevation from an economic point of view
  • Located in structures where gravity flow is required or connected to pumps suction which has specific NPSH requirement e.g. overhead condenser

Layout of Shell & Tube heat exchanger in banks

Arrangement of exchangers (Fig. 2):

Typical arrangements of shell and tube heat exchangers
Fig. 2: Typical arrangements of shell and tube heat exchangers

Various types of Exchanger orientation is possible as mentioned below:

Sample exchanger orientation (Fig. 3)

Figure showing Heat Exchanger Orientation
Fig.3: Figure showing Heat Exchanger Orientation

Single and Paired Exchangers (Fig. 4)

Single and Paired exchanger orientation
Fig.4: Single and Paired exchanger orientation

Parallel Exchanger Installation (Fig. 5)

Parallel Exchanger Installation
Fig. 5: Parallel Exchanger Installation

Series Exchanger Installation (Fig. 6)

Series Exchanger Installation
Fig. 6: Series Exchanger Installation

Stacked exchanger installation

Two exchangers in series or parallel are usually stacked. Refer Fig. 7

Stacked exchanger installation
Fig. 7: Stacked exchanger installation

Nozzle arrangement for better piping (Fig. 8)

Nozzle arrangement for better piping
Fig. 8: Nozzle arrangement for better piping

Structure mounted exchanger installation (Fig. 9)

Structure mounted exchanger installation
Fig. 9: Structure mounted exchanger installation

Supporting of shell & tube heat exchanger piping

  • No special guideline for supporting
  • Stress analysis required to be carried out for the exchanger inlet & outlet lines
  • Fixed saddle-support near the tube bundle head, sliding support near the rear head

Heat exchanger maintenance

Tube bundle extractors (Fig. 10)

Tube Bundle extractors.
Fig. 10: Tube Bundle extractors.

Few more resources for You..

Basics of Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers: A brief presentationOpens in a new tab.
An article on Plate Heat Exchanger with SteamOpens in a new tab.
A typical Check List for Reviewing of Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger DrawingsOpens in a new tab.
A brief presentation on Air Cooled Heat ExchangersOpens in a new tab.
Basic Considerations for Equipment and Piping Layout of Air Cooled Heat Exchanger PipingOpens in a new tab.
Reboiler Exchanger and System Type SelectionOpens in a new tab.

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

4 thoughts on “Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Piping: A brief Presentation

  1. I think it should be noted, that Fig 3 and 6 are perfect examples how NOT to layout and configure piping around S&T Exchangers.
    Wherever this plant is, must be a nightmare for its operations and maintenance staff.
    Quite frankly Fig 4,5 & 9 are meaningless. Initial layout studies should be governed by spatial,
    ergonomic and safety awareness.
    Giving examples of dimensions between equipment and piping can be totally misleading for young designers, as it is very dependent on equipment and piping size and how it is maintained.
    Sketches of this type are sometimes 50 years old and really should be scrapped. The size of equipment this days for mega projects really demands a different thought process.

  2. You did a nice work by posting this. I appreciate it and enjoy reading your posts. Keep doing good work.

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