Skip to content

Air cooled oil coolers optimisation to reduce capital and operating costs

Running a processing plant can be a very costly process and the below article shows some of the information which Cal Gavin have published to show how you can optimize air cooled oil coolers to offer lowest capital and operating costs within your process plant.  The below article was put together by Peter Ellerby, who is an engineer within Cal Gavin, along with Johan Van der Kamp of Bronswerk Heat Transfer b.v

The main aim for any equipment designer is to produce the optimum solution for their plant in terms of the amount of capital being spent as well as looking at costs which are involved in the operating of heat exchangers within that plant.  Along with having to do a huge amount of research into this process, the equipment designer must also look at the constraints of the plot space and the requirements needed.

Assessing the operating costs of a heat exchanger, or even a process plant, can sometimes be a very tricky thing to try and undergo and in some cases there will be some things which can change; this such as a new allowance for pressure drop.  Design of the air cooler assessment of the airside power requirements is inherent in the design review stage.

One of the first things which will be carried out will be an enhancement which will be extended outside surface which will be applied to any air cooled heat exchangers which might be within the process plant.  Heat transfer rates for air are usually very low which means spreading it across a much larger area, this can create a large increase in effective heat transfer on a bare area basis. The areas of development to improve efficiency involve more effective finned tubing and quiet low power fans.

As always, any developments will always be assessed on a cost and benefits basis for any application which might have been put forward which is why it was key to ensure the benefits and heat exchanger solutions proposed are going to have a positive effect on the air cooled oil coolers.   The application of extended surface provides the plant with a huge reduction in the base area, plot space and the weight which is used within the area. Although this is a good thing, there are some draw backs as to where the fluid, which will be cooled, is viscous. The advantages provided on the airside can be very limited to low tubeside heat transfer coefficients.

If your process plant has a tubeside flow regime which is laminar or transitional, the improvement attainable through increases in the velocity is relatively low compared to the increase in the pumping costs.  This problem is very common and exists in many common air cooled applications.  In other applications oil cooling for many types of turbo machinery, transformers and large engines can be done using air as the cooling method.

To read the rest of this published paper please register for an account with Cal Gavin which will give you access to the full article as well as detailed information about the client and some of the benefits they saw by using Cal Gavin as there heat exchanger solutions provider.

View the latest range of case studies