Plate and Frame Heat Exchangers

A plate and frame heat exchanger is a type of heat exchanger that uses a series of metal plates to transfer heat between two fluids. The large channeled surface area of the plates, in combination with the thinness of the chambers, promote maximal exchange of heat.

Proper Setup + Preventive Maintenance = Optimal Performance

Plate and frame heat exchangers are silent have no moving parts, but overlooking maintenance is a common mistake. Narrow gaps between the plates tend to trap foreign matter, and lack of preventive maintenance can lead to fouling or scaling of plates and clogging. When allowed to accumulate, heat exchange is decreased because the plate surfaces will not have direct contact with fluids. Fluids are forced to move through a smaller space, which causes the pressure drop – and operating costs – to increase. Failed gaskets can allow leaks, and cracks in the plates can lead to cross contamination between fluids.

If fouling, clogging, or scaling are recurring problems, it is important not only to remedy the immediate issue but to identify and correct the underlying causes. Poor water quality is a large contributor to such problems, so it is important to equip a system with adequate filtration, particularly when connected to an open loop. Sensors or gauges should be used at inlet and outlet ports to track performance and monitor for unexpected temperature or pressure changes. Instrument accuracy should be checked once or twice a year depending on equipment criticality. Finally, proper flow rate and direction is critical, even on clean, new systems.

Preventive Maintenance Guidelines

Plate and frame heat exchanger PM is minimal compared to other types of equipment and relatively simple to perform. Units should be back flushed on a regular basis and visually inspected for leaks, and gaskets should be checked for brittleness. A mechanical cleaning should be performed every few years, depending on the condition of the water and frequency of back flushing. Gaskets should be changed every five to ten years, and plates should be sent back to the manufacturer or other authorized cleaning facility every ten to fifteen years for reconditioning.

About PJM

PJM Mechanical Contractors, Inc. is a multi-faceted mechanical contractor providing construction and installation, service and maintenance, and design/build services in a comprehensive range of mechanical disciplines that include HVAC, plumbing, controls, refrigeration, custom metal fabrication, piping, fire protection, and backflow preventer testing. PJM primarily serves clients in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, healthcare, institutional, and other various commercial and industrial sectors. pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, healthcare, institutional, and commercial sectors.

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