Brazed plate heat exchangers – compact and cost-efficient
The first Alfa Laval brazed plate heat exchangers (BHEs) were developed in the seventies. Today they are well-established components in refrigeration systems due to their compactness, durable designs, ease of installation and cost efficient operation.
The brazed plate heat exchanger (BHE) consists of thin corrugated stainless steel plates vacuum brazed together using copper as the brazing material
Brazing the stainless steel plates together eliminates the need for sealing gaskets and thick frame plates. As well as holding the plates together at their contact points, the brazing material seals the package. Alfa Laval’s BHEs are brazed at all contact points, ensuring optimal heat transfer efficiency and pressure resistance. The plates are designed to provide the longest possible lifetime. Since virtually all surfaces of the brazed plate heat exchanger actively contribute to heat transfer, the BHE is very compact in size, and it has a low weight and a low hold-up volume. Alfa Laval offers a wide range of standard heat exchanger models and sizes, tailor-made for a wide scope including refrigeration applications. Standard configurations are available from stock and customer-specific designs are available on request.
The basic flow principle in a brazed plate heat exchanger for refrigeration applications is parallel or diagonal flow to achieve
the most efficient heat transfer process. In a single pass design, all connections are located on one side of the heat exchanger, making installation very easy. Multipass design and different types of connections are available. Optionally, the location of connections can be chosen.
Flow principle in Evaporator design
The channels formed between the corrugated plates and corners are arranged so that the two media flow through alternate channels, always in opposite directions (counter current flow). The two phase refrigerant (vapour and liquid) enters the bottom left of the exchanger with a vapour quality depending on the operating condition of the plant. Evaporation of the liquid phase takes place inside the channels and some degrees of superheat are always requested, which is the reason why the process is called “dry expansion”. In the illustration of an evaporator the dark and light blue arrows show the location of the refrigerant connections. The water (brine) to be cooled flows counter current in the opposite channel; the dark and light red arrows show the location of the water (brine) connections.
Flow principle in Condenser design
The main components are the same as for the evaporator. The refrigerant enters at top left of the exchanger as hot gas and starts to condense on the surface of the channels until fully condensed, and is then slightly subcooled. The process is called “free condensation”. In the illustration of a condenser the light and dark blue arrows show the location of the brine connections. The refrigerant flows counter current in the opposite channel and is cooled. The light and dark red arrows indicate the locations of the refrigerant connections.