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Comment PDF Heat Transfer

Understanding Finned Heat Exchangers

By Viswanathan Ganapathy, Boiler Consultant |

Solid and serrated fins (Figure 1) are widely used as heat transfer surfaces in boilers and heaters. The use of finned tubes makes heat exchanger equipment compact. The fluegas pressure drop is also decreased relative to a comparable plain-tube design, resulting in lower operating costs. Fin geometry, such as fin density (fins/in.), fin height and fin thickness, should be selected with care as it impacts the thermal design and performance of the exchanger. However, engineers often select fin geometry without understanding the implications on tubewall temperatures, heat flux, pressure drop or fin temperatures. Figure 1.  Serrated (left) and solid (right) fins are used in boiler and heater applications This article highlights the importance of selecting proper fin geometry for heat transfer equipment and the implications of poor fin selection. There are common misconceptions among engineers when evaluating fins regarding surface area. Many engineers assume that more fin surface area will always equate to a better design and that designs with smaller surface area will not be sufficient. Selecting a finned heat exchanger design based on surface area alone can lead to long-term problems including higher heat…
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