The global heat exchanger market is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, increasing from a total value of around $13.3 billion (£10.4 billion) in 2017 to roughly $24.5 billion (£19.2 billion) by the end of 2024.
This is according to a report by Zion Market Research, which provides a forecast on the heat exchanger market by type, application, and regional growth.
Thanks to increasing industrialisation around the world, the heat exchanger market is predicted to increase at 8.9% compound annual growth until 2024, the authors conclude.
The market is also expanding as a result of increased use of heat exchangers in water treatment plants, the report demonstrates. In addition, the rising demand for heat exchangers in commercial business and commercial complexes is also anticipated to drive market growth during the forecast period.
Due to the higher efficiency, PHEs [plate heat exchangers] can reach closer temperature approaches, which will improve the overall process efficiency and hence PHEs help in reducing primary energy consumption
Falk Mohasseb,director of research and development at Kelvion
Europe is anticipated to dominate the market, thanks to growth in a number of process industry sectors throughout the EU. And while the heat exchanger market in North America is also estimated to grow at a steady rate, the Asia Pacific region is anticipated to swell considerably.
This sentiment was also echoed in a report by market researcher Global Industry Analysts (GIA), which predicts the Asia Pacific region will grow at the fastest rate of any area around the world between now and 2024.
The firm says this is thanks largely to the: “positive CAPEX and OPEX investment climate… and favourable government-led policies that prioritise industrial, manufacturing, and process sectors for their ability to generate benefits of dynamic economies of scale, innovation/technology diffusion and spill-over… for the economy and its growth.”
An earlier version of the GIA report also identified a global shift away from the shell-and-tube heat exchanger, which has long-been a workhorse within the process industry, toward plate heat exchangers (PHEs).
Following the report’s publication in 2015, the firm told Process Engineering: “Currently, welded PHEs are cannibalising market opportunities in the shell-and-tube heat exchanger market, given their potential to enhance heat recovery by over 55% as compared to the latter.”
“Factors driving the adoption of PHEs as an alternative to shell-and-tube include large and effective heat transfer surface, compact size and small form factor and superior thermal efficiency in comparison with shell-and-tube.”
The transition began in the food and beverage sector, where conditions are typically mild, and have now steadily progressed to more demanding applications thanks to brazed and welded versions of PHEs.
These are designed to eliminate the need for gaskets between the plates, which otherwise limit the temperature and pressure ranges of regular PHEs. The trend is primarily driven by performance.
By heating the secondary water and sub-cooling the condensate in the same plate heat exchanger, substantial energy savings can be achieved
Nicholas Davies, sales director, ARI-Armaturen UK
This is according to director of research and development at heat exchanger firm Kelvion, Falk Mohasseb, who says PHEs are much more efficient and can reach – depending on type and application – up to five or six times higher overall heat transfer coefficients, reducing for that reason surface area and costs.
“Due to the higher efficiency, PHEs can reach closer temperature approaches, which will improve the overall process efficiency and hence PHEs help in reducing primary energy consumption,” Mohasseb says.
Clearly, heat exchanger manufacturers are striving to develop kit that is more efficient and therefore more cost-effective than traditional technology.
According to ARI-Armaturen, pressure to reduce spend and improve energy efficiency measures has forced several industries to adopt demanding targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and look for “alternatives to update energy management systems”.
For example, the firm says its ENCOsys plate heat exchanger is designed to help companies looking for a proficient heating system for their site. ENCOsys is a compact, steam-to-water plate heat exchanger designed to provide hot water up to 2100kW.
ARI-Armaturen says that generally, the water temperature leaving shell-and-tube heat exchangers tends to cycle in a pattern similar to a sine wave, meaning the temperature set point may have to be set higher to ensure the unit meets the required load at all times.
However by using its PHE, temperature control can be improved, typically providing an estimated 3% energy saving, the company says.
In a statement about the product, ARI-Armaturen UK sales director, Nicholas Davies, said: “By heating the secondary water and sub-cooling the condensate in the same plate heat exchanger, substantial energy savings can be achieved and the cost of ownership is further reduced because improved energy efficiency means lower fuel bills and low CO2 emissions.”
Keeping with tradition
Interestingly however, Zion Market Research’s report says shell-andtube heat exchangers will dominate the market in the coming years due to their “global popularity”.
The report says: “They are extensively used as preheaters, power condensers, steam generators, and oil coolers. This growth is due to its increasing penetration in various industries, such as petrochemicals and chemicals.
“Additionally, [shell-and-tube heat exchangers] offer various benefits, such as the high potential for heat transfer, easy maintenance and repair, low-pressure drops, erosion prevention, relatively high efficiency, and reduced wear-outs.”
Shell-and-tube heat exchangers are also designed to offer greater flexibility in more demanding temperatures and pressures.
Food for thought
More demanding products are also presenting new challenges for heat exchanger manufacturers. Nut butters, for example, are a spreadable foodstuff manufactured by grinding various types of nuts into a viscous paste.
According to a number of fitness blogs and magazines, nut butter is packed with health benefits – from aiding weight loss to lowering cholesterol. Certain nut butters, such as almond, are also a good source of protein and fibre.
However, they can also be extremely tricky to produce and as they are almost solid at room temperature, can be difficult to move through process machinery. This is according to HRS Heat Exchangers, which says that at room temperature, peanut butter, for example, is at least five times thicker than tomato ketchup, but at colder conditions it becomes even more viscous still.
The challenge of moving nut butter through process kit was highlighted during a recent project, when a HRS R Series Scraped Surface heat exchanger was installed for a nut butter line.
HRS sales and marketing director Matt Hale says that, although the R Series is designed for viscous materials, very solid materials can cause issues.
However, Hale says this experience provided insight for the need to design a heavy-duty version of the R Series. “So our R&D team set to work to produce a scraped surface heat exchanger for materials like nut butters that are almost solid. The result is the new HRS RHD Series for heavy duty applications.”
While the new model is designed to maintain the benefits of the standard R Series, its durability and strength have increased, while motor size has grown from 4kW to 7kW.
Hale says: “The standard R Series have been proven time and again in both food and hygienic applications for their ability to reliably process viscous products such as sauces, purées, creams and gels.
“With the addition of the new HRS RHD Series, we can now deliver these benefits to the thickest and most difficult to handle materials, such as nut butters or any semi-solid product.”