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Air Coolers Versus Shell-and-Tube Water Coolers

By Manas K Mandal |

As shown here, economical cooling is often achieved with a combination of both air and water cooling. Design considerations are also presented here For the last 40 years, air-cooled heat exchangers have become an indispensable part of many chemical, petroleum-refining, petrochemical, gas processing and power plants, as well as off-shore platforms. In locations such as the Middle East, where the availability of cooling water is limited and expensive, air-cooled exchangers may be a preferred choice. However, even there, due to various process constraints, air cooling alone may not always suffice, so water cooling may also be required. Similarly, where cooling water is plentiful, shell-and-tube coolers may not always be a straightforward solution. Due to the need for elaborate cooling-water piping circuits, a cooling tower, large cooling-water circulation pumps and water-conditioning systems, the complexity and capital requirements are generally very high, leading to a preference for air coolers over shell-and-tube coolers. In this article, with the help of a case study, the author discusses situations where the combination of both air cooler and water coolers can be used, including considerations for better overall project economics.   Why…
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