Category Archive: Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

Pros and Cons of Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

Air-to-air heat exchangers are common in a variety of diverse industries for effectively carrying out heat transfer and recovering wasted heat from exhaust air for use in other equipment. Managing thermal energy is particularly important for technological, power, and other utility installations, though it has specific benefits and drawbacks to consider for any application. Before integrating an air-to-air heat exchanger into your systems, learn more about this equipment and its ideal uses.

Air-to-Air Industrial Shell & Tube ALT-imate Heat Exchanger

What Are Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers?

When energy transfers from one piece of equipment to another, or even from one kind of energy to another, at least a portion of that energy transitions to heat. Air-to-air heat exchangers enable the transfer of thermal energy, exchanging heat between a minimum of two environments of different temperatures. These exchangers use a working fluid like liquid or gas as well as a working surface, with heat transfer occurring between them through a crossflow or a cross-counterflow air stream movement without actually mixing them.

Heat exchangers recover wasted heat from equipment like ovens, dryers, and incinerators and circulate it around tubes containing fresh, cool air. The tubes have thin walls, facilitating heat transfer between the exhaust air and the cooler air, efficiently preheating the cooler air for use elsewhere in a system for more environmentally friendly operations.

Advantages of Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

There are many benefits of an air exchanger, including:

  • Cleaner indoor air quality. Regarding ventilation, the air-to-air heat exchanger core uses high-performance filters to ensure healthy, breathable air and pleasant indoor temperatures. In addition to removing pollutants and excess moisture from the air, heat exchangers also effectively eliminate foul smells.
  • Energy efficiency. Air-to-air heat exchangers recover energy by capitalizing on exhaust airstreams, wasted or latent heat, and passive cooling, lowering your operation’s carbon footprint. As these heat exchangers do not utilize any power, that equates to lower energy consumption. Also, it makes them ideal for locations in which electricity inaccessible..
  • Cost efficiency. As compared to other cooling equipment like air conditioners, heat exchangers are more cost-efficient for thermal management in an enclosed space. Their only moving components are their circulation fans, and this leads to energy bill savings.

Disadvantages of Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers 

Conversely, there are potential disadvantages to air-to-air heat exchangers as well, such as:

  • Leaks and pressure drops. When leaks do develop, allowing two airstreams to mix through a hole in the exchanger, they can be hard to fix, often requiring a full deconstruction. Similarly, when system pressure drops off within a plate heat exchanger, technicians typically have to inspect each plate individually to locate the source of the problem.
  • Temperature limitations. Air-to-air heat exchangers are only capable of functioning in environments where the external air temperature is less than that of the system’s internal maximum operational temperature. Also, they cannot effectively cool spaces that are already overheated. This can be remedied, however, by using them in combination with other machinery.

Applications of Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers 

Air-to-air heat exchangers have applications in numerous industries, including:

  • Automotive. Corrosion-resistant stainless steel heat exchangers can handle exhaust flow from automotive applications, despite its contaminants. They have applications in incinerator heat recovery for dryer usage, as well as preheated air for ovens that cure paint or other coatings.
  • Air pollution control. Using a heat exchanger can save energy in an air pollution control system by preheating air streams containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or precooling air before its introduction into a baghouse. This cuts down on the amount of fuel that incinerators would otherwise use to maintain specific temperatures.
  • Food and beverage processing. Safety is always a priority in the food and beverage sector. Heat exchangers provide greater control over temperature than other thermal management techniques, facilitating sanitizing. Also, they keep refrigerants like freon separate from consumable goods to safely cool equipment and control panels during manufacturing.
  • Medical. Medical equipment can generate a fair amount of heat in sealed areas. To solve this, the industry can integrate heat exchangers into healthcare equipment to promote operational efficiency and accuracy, as well as extend the life span of medical devices.

Customized Solutions From PRE-heat, Inc.

Air-to-air heat exchangers are viable options for improving heating and cooling efficiency. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks, you can decide whether or not a heat exchanger is the right solution for your needs. 

The team at PRE-heat, Inc. can help. For over four decades, PRE-heat has designed and manufactured customized air-to-air heat exchangers as well as packaged heat recovery systems. If you’re interested in learning more about air-to-air heat exchangers or would like to request a quote for your operation, contact us today.

A Look at Heat Recovery Systems

Every facility loses heat to the atmosphere. In industrial settings, this loss is a significant source of wasted energy and money. Recovering even a portion of lost heat allows companies to improve their energy efficiency, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint without altering existing workflows.

In this post, we will cover topics such as important qualities of heat recovery equipment and how to select the right one for your situation and application, including indirect heaters and heat exchangers.

What Is a Heat Recovery System?

What Is a Heat Recovery System?

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Heat recovery systems use the heat energy from outgoing exhaust air to heat fresh incoming air. They typically consist of a heat exchanging unit, blower fans, and separate air flow channels (e.g., ducting or piping). The heat exchanging unit facilitates the extraction and transfer of heat from the outgoing air to the incoming air, the blower fans move the outgoing and incoming air through the channels, and the separate channels prevent cross-contamination between outgoing air and incoming air.

PRE-Heat Offers Several Systems

Dimple-Plate Heat Exchangers

The most versatile, sturdy, and cleanable plate heat exchanger is the Dimple-Plate (DPL) unit. The DPL uses dimples on each plate to maintain plate spacing and increase turbulence while operating at lower pressure drops. Our DPL is an all-welded, plate-type heat exchanger with the strongest primary-seal weld in the industry.

The welded design eliminates cross contamination (leakage) between the gases. DPL also has a high percentile heat transfer efficiency. Variable plate thickness, spacing, and size are chosen to satisfy system needs while further optimizing performance and cost. Cleaning and inspecting accessible ports are possible.

Shell and Tube Units

All types of VOC abatement or fume incineration, including catalytic, thermal recuperative, and thermal regenerative incinerators, make use of our high quality shell and tube heat exchangers as their primary and secondary heat exchangers. They are also utilized to take away the heat energy from industrial furnaces, kilns, ovens, and dryers of all kinds.

Shell and tube heat exchangers are used for many different applications. They can be placed in the exhaust of the object to be heated, or they can also be placed in the input of the object to be cooled. Shell and tube heat exchangers are available in vertical or horizontal design. When the exhaust air is very dirty, shell and tube heat exchangers are recommended because they don’t need frequent cleaning.

Indirect Heaters

Indirect heaters are most suitable for lower volumes of hot gases being expelled from the facility, or if gas temperatures are too low to be used directly in a heat exchanger. They can also achieve higher thermal efficiencies than direct systems at certain flow rates, depending on design specifications and operating conditions.

Benefits of Heat Recovery Systems

The ever-increasing operating expenses of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation can be significantly reduced by heat recovery from exhaust air.

The advantages of air-to-air heat exchangers are:

  • Almost complete segregation of the air streams
  • No moving components
  • No wear, thus no maintenance required
  • Long life and resistance to breakdowns

Who Needs a Heat Recovery System?

Heat recovery equipment is an integral part of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in buildings. As structures are being built for energy efficiency, they have become more tightly sealed so that natural pollutants cannot escape these structures over time. These natural pollutants can lead to poor air quality inside your building if not expelled from time to time through installing well thought-out equipment such as the heat recovery system or indirect heater.

Heat recovery systems are important in any industry that uses (or needs) heating, ventilation, or air conditioning systems, such as in car manufacturing and food and beverage processing. The purpose of the heat recovery system is thus two-fold: first, it ensures those natural pollutants can leave the structure, and secondly, it allows companies to achieve their goal of improved energy efficiency as well as a reduced carbon footprint by recovering lost excesses.

Heat loss represents a significant source of wasted energy and money in industrial settings. Recovering even a portion of lost heat allows companies to improve their energy efficiency, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint, all without altering existing workflows.

The end goal of the heat recovery system is to provide the most efficient use of energy possible. When designing a heat recovery system, it’s important to establish these goals up front, so that the design properly reflects what is required. The end-state of a heat recovery system is ultimately determined by the building’s final use and what the people who will live or work in it require. When designing the heat recovery system, be sure to consider these variables.

How We Can Help

Do you need help with designing an indirect heater, heat recovery system, or other industrial heating equipment? Or do you have questions about how to correctly size/configure your components so that they work together seamlessly for maximum energy savings and efficiency? PRE-heat is on hand to answer all of your questions!

Don’t forget to grab your free eBook to gain access to expert information that has helped prior clients choose the perfect heat recovery system for their industry.

Types of Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

A variety of industries rely on air-to-air heat exchangers to collect heat energy lost during heating applications. They are vital to many industrial applications, recovering heat to save energy, reduce expenses, and increase operational efficiency. Heat exchangers are generally classified by the way the air moves through the unit, and they come in three primary types: plate, tube, and wheel. Each variation provides distinct advantages and disadvantages, for performance in a range of applications and environments.

We will discuss the types of air-to-air heat exchangers, their benefits, and applications to help you select the ideal heat exchanger for your application.

Types of Air to Air Heat Exchangers

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Plate Types

Plate type air-to-air heat exchangers provide a low-cost and effective solution to reduce heating and cooling loads on the treatment of process air. The plates on the heat exchanger physically separate the supply and exhaust air, with the supply air passing on one side and the exhaust air passing on the other side. The exhaust air is used to preheat or precool incoming supply air without mixing the air streams.

Plate type heat exchangers can slide into an enclosure with a box-like design to protect the thermal plates. Their ability to preheat or precool air is ideal for ovens, kilns, and fume incinerators.

There are two variations on the plate type air-to-air heat exchanger that offer a range of advantages.

These include:

  • Dimple plate heat exchangers. Dimple plate heat exchangers have enhanced versatility and ruggedness for heavy-duty applications. The dimples on the plate allow the heat exchanger to handle low pressure drop and improve turbulence. The flat plates and the consistent dimple patterns allow for simple cleaning and maintenance.
  • Wave plate heat exchangers. Wave plate heat exchangers are an all-welded metal heat exchanger that combines in-line dimple patterns with a wave pattern on the plates. This combination allows the heat exchanger to deliver higher turbulence and structural integrity while maintaining low pressure drop. They also feature heavy-duty plates that are easy to clean.

Plate type industrial air-to-air heat exchangers can be made to a range of specifications with various thicknesses, spaces, and sizes. When plate type heat exchangers do not deliver adequate performance, tube type air-to-air heat exchangers may offer a suitable solution.

Tube Types

Tube type industrial air-to-air heat exchangers accommodate higher pressures and temperatures than wheel and plate type heat exchangers. They are also an ideal choice in environments that can become dusty or have a high concentration of particles in the air.

Shell & tube air-to-air heat exchangers deliver optimal performance for recovering valuable heat energy from dryers, ovens, kilns, and furnaces. They can also be a reliable primary and secondary recovery system for fume incinerators and VOC abatement systems.

Shell & tube air-to-air heat exchangers have various patterns on the tubes, including rotated squares, rotated triangles, squares, or triangular patterns. Further variations include multiple tube side passes and shell side passes to increase performance and meet size specifications.

Wheel Types

Wheel type air heat exchangers have a space-saving design, delivering higher efficiency for their size than larger plate type heat exchangers. The rotating wheel’s extended surface makes contact with heat energy from the exhaust and transfers it to the incoming fresh air while each stream remains separate. Wheel type heat exchangers are suitable for hot and cold air ducts, with the capacity to handle high airflow and low-pressure drops in addition to their compact size.

Industrial Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers From PRE-heat

Air-to-air heat exchangers come in several types to suit a range of industrial applications, offering an efficient way to recover heat in various industries. At PRE-Heat Inc., we carry plate type and tube type air-to-air heat exchangers.

We have over 40 years of experience in designing and building industrial air-to-air heat exchangers, offering innovative, top-quality solutions that meet your specific needs. For more information, or to get started on your custom solution, request a quote today.

Common Industrial Applications for Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

Many industrial processes create heated air as some type of exhaust or byproduct. Typically, this heated air gets vented outside into the environment. Air-to-air heat exchangers offer a way to capture this exhaust air and reuse it at other points in the application process. Exhaust air can preheat outside fresh air that needs to be used for certain tasks, such as curing sealants or pre-heating ovens, by running the exhaust air through tubes. When the outside air passes over the tubes, the fresh air heats up without the risk of contamination by the exhaust air.

Another type of heat exchanger, called an air-to-air plate exchanger, allows an industrial facility to harvest the potential energy found in exhaust air and provide air pollution control. The heat exchanger attaches to incinerators, kilns, and ovens. The exhausted air and clean air pass over the plates without encountering each other. The plate collects the heat from the exhaust air and passes into the clean intake air, while the cooler exhausted air condenses onto the walls and the plates. Cleaner exhaust air is then vented into the environment.

Applications That Rely on Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

Automotive and air pollution control rely heavily on air-to-air heat exchangers to recover wasted heat energy and direct it toward other processes. Air-to-air heat exchangers allow these two industries to lower their energy costs and condition fresh outdoor air use in their applications.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry uses heat exchangers to recover heat from incinerators for use in dryers. The stainless steel construction of the heat exchanger allows it to withstand any particulates and corrosive contaminants that may collect in the exhaust flow. Because the inflow of cooler air becomes heated when passing through the heat transfer equipment, the preheated air can then be directed to e-coat and paint curing ovens. Pre-heating the air allows automotive manufacturers to spend less on outside energy sources to bring the oven temperatures up to required temperature ranges.

Air Pollution Control Systems

Large amounts of energy are used to incinerate harmful VOCs or cool compounds before a baghouse. Those incinerators use a lot of fuel to keep the burners running at the required temperature. The use of a heat exchanger can reduce this cost by using the hot air to heat up the VOC air before the burner. Or vise versa, the heat exchanger can be used to cool air streams with volatile compounds before a baghouse to be captured.

Other Industrial Heat Exchanger Applications

Many other industries also use air-to-air heat exchangers in their processes. The heat exchanger may be used to pre-cool air, pre-heat air, start curing or drying processes, and provide secondary air/heat recovery.

Industries and applications that rely on air-to-air heat exchange capabilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bag house precooler
  • Furnace
  • Plastics industry
  • Solvent recovery systems
  • Bakery ovens
  • Power generation
  • Printing industry
  • Mineral industry
  • Tape manufacturing
  • Bottling plant
  • Plant machine hood exhaust
  • Textile industry
  • Make up air/heat systems

Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers from PRE-Heat

Air-to-air heat exchangers play a critical role in reducing energy costs and minimizing industrial air pollution. At PRE-Heat, Inc., we offer heat exchangers for a variety of industrial applications.

For assistance identifying the right air-to-air heat exchange solution for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us or request a quote today.