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The Flow-Induced Vibration Problem In Heat Exchangers

● Higher flow rates could lead to flow-induced tube vibrations.
● Tube damage owing to flow-induced vibrations has increased over the past 5 to 10 years.
● Tube failures are always very expensive and lead to lost production, contaminated products, additional energy usage, and/or high repair costs.
● The roots of flow-induced vibration can be traced to two main sources:

Advances in catalyst and control technologies allow operators to increase plant capacity by simply increasing flow through existing process equipment.

- Operators favor modifications that retain existing shells thereby avoiding expensive foundation and piping modifications.
- In many there is no room available to increase the physical size of the equipment.

New exchanger designs are smaller than in the past, which entails greater shell side velocities.

- Smaller exchangers reduce the exchagner cost and help to mitigate fouling.
- Better correlations reduce the need of large uncertainty factors.
- Enhanced heat transfer surfaced allow reduced footprints.

Anti-Vibration Technologies Open Substaintial Opportunities

In existing bundles...
● Allow greater flow rates while minimizing risk of vibration damage.
● Allow re-use of bundles that failed owing to flow-induced vibration damage of tubes.

In new bundles...
● Allow use of fewer baffles(e.g.,50% Less) decreasing shellside Δp by as much as 75%.
 - Lower pressure drop is key to debottleneck flow in gas circuits or to minimize energy consumption in compression loops.
● Allow design of exchangers with axial shellside flow providing smaller footprint, lower cost, and superior performance than other
 technologies avaiable in today's market.
● Allow design of heat exchangers at their optimum configuration based on heat transfer and pressure drop considerations alone.
 - These anti-vibration technologies avoid the need to deviate from optimum design to reduce vibration potential.