Alfa Laval spiral heat exchangers are designed to handle the toughest heat transfer challenges. Whether it’s frequent fouling from dirty media, or limitations from pressure drop and floor space, they are the ultimate problem solver for liquid-to-liquid and two-phase duties. The robust, efficient and compact designs keep both installation and maintenance costs extremely low, and they have a proven reputation for almost never fouling up.
Improving sustainability with Alfa Laval’s spiral heat exchangers
- Minimal fouling, or clogging, in duties involving very dirty, highly viscous or particulate media, ensures uptime
- Easy-to-open design makes cleaning quick and simple, ensuring low maintenance costs
- Reduced pipework and steel structures means lower installation costs
- Increased energy savings and reduced emissions thanks to thermal efficiencies 2-3 times higher than comparable shell-and tube exchangers
- Each unit is fully customized, offering the best thermal fit for the specific duty
Alfa Laval is the only supplier on the market with more than a half-century of experience with spiral technology. Today our spiral heat exchangers can be found in plants around the world, solving tough problems in industries that include: petrochemical, refinery, steel making, pulp and paper, mineral processing (metals, ore), wastewater treatment (municipal and industrial), pharmaceutical, vegetable oil refining and natural gas transportation.
SpiralPro for liquid-to-liquid duties
Alfa Laval’s SelfClean™ construction makes SpiralPro model heat exchangers a smart choice when working with dirty fluids, sludges, emulsions, slurries, fibres or particle loaded liquids. Since the fluids flow continuously in one single channel, the fluid force acts against any deposits, “pushing” them through the channel and out the other end.
The compact nature of the SpiralPro model often allows several large shell-and-tubes heat exchangers to be replaced by one single SpiralPro exchanger. This creates considerable infrastructure benefits in addition to reducing maintenance and cleaning requirements. If the unit needs cleaning, the covers can easily be removed for washing with a hydro jet.
- Fouling liquids containing solids, fibres, liquors, slurries and sludges
- Liquid-to-liquid preheating, heating, cooling, interchanging and heat recovery
SpiralPro for steam heater duties
SpiralPro model heat exchangers optimized for duties involving steam heating of liquids that are highly fouling are also available. Like all SpiralPro units, these are fully accessible for quick and easy cleaning with hydro jets.
The counter-current flow also ensures a very close temperature approach for maximum thermal efficiency.
- Fouling liquids containing solids or fibres, liquors, slurries and sludges and other challenging fluids that require heating by steam
SpiralCond for vacuum condensing and evaporation duties
SpiralCond model heat exchangers offer a highly efficient solution for challenging two-phase duties, including both condensing and evaporation (reboiling). SpiralCond’s compact design and the fact that it is configured vertically results in a very small footprint, compared to equivalent shell-and-tube exchangers, while also reducing supporting structures, and piping complexity.
SpiralCond units have cross-flow rather than counter-current flow. Each unit is fully customized according to the duty required, with channel spacing adjusted to provide the lowest pressure drop. SpiralCond is therefore ideally suited to vacuum condensing applications.
- Gases: pure vapour and mixtures with inert gases
- Vapour/liquid: top condensers, reflux condensers, vacuum condensers, vent condensers, reboilers with fouling fluids, gas coolers
SpiralCond in stacked column configuration
For condensing and evaporation applications where multiple cooling media are involved, Alfa Laval can deliver SpiralCond model heat exchangers integrated in a column. Like the single stand-alone SpiralCond, this configuration has cross-flow and open channels for extremely low pressure drop in vacuum situations.
The high efficiency of SpiralCond allows the column to be both shorter in height and smaller in diameter than traditional column solutions, thus offering major savings in infrastructure and installation costs.
- Vapour-liquid: top condensers, reflux condensers, vacuum condensers and vent condensers
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How it works
Alfa Laval spiral heat exchangers are circular units containing two concentric spiral flow channels, one for each fluid. The different media flow counter currently: one fluid enters the centre of the unit and flows towards the periphery, the other enters the unit at the periphery and moves towards the centre. The channels are curved and have a uniform cross section. There is no risk of intermixing.
The product channel is normally open on one side and closed on the other. The channel for the heating/cooling medium can sometimes be closed on both sides, depending on the cleanliness of the heating/cooling medium. Each channel has one connection in the centre and one on the periphery of the heat exchanger.
The spiral geometry, with a single channel for each medium and continuous curving, is highly suitable for fluids that tend to cause fouling. This design results in high flow turbulence with resulting high shear stress, dramatically reducing the risk of fouling.
The single-channel geometry also creates a scrubbing effect that we refer to as the SelfClean™ design. If fouling does occur in the heat transfer channel, the cross-section of this part of the channel is decreased. However, since the entire flow must still pass through the channel, the velocity increases, the resulting fluid force then flushing away any accumulations of deposits as they form.
Compare this design with shell-and-tube heat exchangers where the flow enters different tubes in parallel. When tubes start to foul, pressure drop increases pushing the fluid to find alternative flow paths. The result is that fouling and clogging of the tubes happens very quickly. With Alfa Laval spirals, on the other hand, fouling and clogging is virtually eliminated.
Frequent cleaning a thing of the past
Mexichem, a global leader in plastic piping systems and in the chemical/petrochemical industries, needed to increase its production capacity to meet market demands.
The ultimate solution to fouling problems
Leuna Germany’s MIDER refinery, owned by Total S.A., originally installed two tubular heat exchangers for cooling bottoms product in their fluid catalytic cracking unit.
One of the world´s largest zinc producers
"We use these units because they’re very strong and very easy to clean and of course because the thermal efficiency is high." - Francisco Tarmago, Technology Manager, Asturiana de Zinc
Compared to other heat exchangers used in similar applications, Alfa Laval spiral designs offer a more compact footprint with increased thermal efficiency.
They are also built with unique features that ensure the most reliable performance:
Superior cleaning and extended performance
A single channel for each fluid ensures reliable self-cleaning of the unit.
Automated, reliable channel enclosure
An automated bending and welding process for the closure of each channel ensures consistent quality and reliability.
A custom solution for high-pressure duties
Circular shell design and a self-supporting internal coil improves mechanical strength under high pressure.
Talk to an expert
We will be happy to discuss the benefits a welded spiral heat exchanger can bring you and show how we can help improve your operation.
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