|Title of Invention||
A PLATE-TYPE HEAT EXCHANGER AND A METHOD FOR EVALUATING THE EXTENT TO WHICH A PLATE TYPE HEAT EXCHANGER HAS BECOME COATED IN SCALE
|Abstract||Plate-type heat exchanger (1) comprising a plurality of stacked plates (2) and including a device (20) for evaluating the extent to which the fluid circuit or circuits have become coated with scale, characterized in that the evaluation device (20) comprises an electrical resistor (21) thermally connected to the plate (10) located at the end of the stack, and means for measuring the temperature in the immediate vicinity of the said resistor.|
|Full Text||FORM 2
THE PATENTS ACT, 1970 (39 of 1970)
& THE PATENTS RULES, 2003
[See section 10, Rule 13]
PLATE-TYPE HEAT EXCHANGER INCLUDING A DEVICE FOR EVALUATING THE EXTENT TO WHICH IT HAS BECOME COATED IN SCALE;
COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE, A CORPORATION ORGANIZED AND EXISTING UNDER THE LAWS OF FRANCE, WHOSE ADDRESS IS 25, RUE LEBLANC, IMMEUBLE "LE PONANT D", 75015 PARIS, FRANCE AND ARMINES A CORPORATION ORGANIZED AND EXISTING UNDER THE LAWS OF FRANCE, WHOSE ADDRESS IS 60, BOULEVARD SAINT MICHEL, 75272 PARIS CEDEX 06, FRANCE
THE FOLLOWING SPECIFICATION
PARTICULARLY DESCRIBES THE INVENTION AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS TO BE PERFORMED.
23 JUL 2008
Field of the invention
The invention relates to the field of heat exchangers and, more especially, plate-type heat exchangers. More specifically, it relates to plate-type heat exchangers fitted with devices for evaluating the extent to which the fluid circuits between its plates have become coated in scale (fouled). It refers more especially to a design of a device for evaluating the extent of coating in scale which outputs a reliable signal regardless of the type of heat exchange (liquid-gas or liquid-liquid) which occurs inside the heat exchanger and which can also be adapted to various types of plate-type heat exchangers, especially existing heat exchangers.
Description of the prior art
Generally speaking, the problem of heat exchangers becoming coated in scale is of major importance insofar as it has an important impact on the design and operation of plant which includes this type of heat exchanger. This coating in scale is caused by the deposition of solid materials which flow through the heat exchanger and are then deposited in those areas where the velocity of the fluid is slower.
Thus, in the chemical and petrochemical industries as well as in the generation of energy by thermal or nuclear means, fouling in heat exchangers has a direct impact on their performance and hence on generation efficiency. Not only this, the fouling observed in certain types of plants increases the potential risk of overheating under certain conditions and makes it necessary to reduce production in order to maintain adequate safety margins.
In addition, in the agri-foodstuff industry in particular, fouling of heat exchangers is also crucial in as much as it has measurable consequences in terms of health and safety. This is why heat exchangers have to undergo frequent cleaning operations, the cost of which can be measured in terms of the time for which the means of production are idle and in terms of the consumption of detergent products.
Economic studies have demonstrated than the overall cost of fouling phenomena is especially high and that this prevents the entry of plate-type heat exchangers into certain markets where fouling phenomena have to be well controlled.
Attempted improvements have already been suggested in order to reduce fouling of plate-type heat exchangers; these consist in designing the geometry of the heat exchange areas in a specific manner. The physical phenomena which cause fouling are still not fully understood and no really satisfactory solution has yet been proposed in order to control such fouling. Consequently, on an industrial scale, fouling of heat exchangers is managed empirically and cleaning cycles are scheduled on the basis of knowledge acquired through experience. It is apparent that such a technique is not really suitable for using heat exchangers which employ fluids which have varying compositions. Furthermore, when a cleaning intervention is undertaken too late, fouling may be bad enough to involve extensive, tricky operations. Consequently, cleaning interventions are often scheduled more frequently than necessary and this has a negative impact on the plant's production time.
There is therefore a palpable need to measure or at least evaluate the degree of fouling using a method which can be performed in real-time.
Devices for evaluating the fouling of heat exchangers have already been fitted on gas-liquid tubular heat exchangers. Solutions like those described, in particular, in Document US 6 386 272 are based on the principle of heat flow meters, i.e. on measuring temperature differences either side of a wall. Unfortunately, this principle which works for gas-liquid tubular heat exchangers cannot be transferred to plate-type heat exchangers. Temperature measurements using the heat flow meter principle require a thick wall between the two temperature measuring points and this is virtually incompatible with the plate thickness usually used in heat exchangers which are of the order of 0.5 nm approximately. Moreover, the heat flow meter principle is less sensitive in the context of liquid-liquid heat exchange which is, however, the most commonly-encountered type of heat transfer in the case of plate-type heat exchangers.
One object of the invention is therefore to provide a plate-type heat exchanger which has a device for evaluating the extent to which it has become coated in scale and which works
regardless of the type of heat transfer used by the heat exchanger (gas-liquid, gas-gas or liquid-liquid)
Another object of the invention is to provide a solution which can be simply adapted to all types of plate-type heat exchangers, whether they are of a new design or with a view to fitting it in existing heat exchangers.
Summary of the invention
The invention therefore relates to a plate-type heat exchanger which comprises, in a known manner, a plurality of stacked plates which define, between them, various fluid circuits which are involved in heat exchange. In a known manner, this heat exchanger includes a device for evaluating the extent to which it has become coated in scale (fouled).
According to the invention, the device for evaluating the extent of fouling comprises an electrical resistor which is thermally connected to the plate located at the end of the stack. The evaluation device also comprises means of measuring the temperature in the immediate vicinity of said electrical resistor.
In other words, the invention involves installing, inside the heat exchanger in a peripheral area, an electrical resistor which makes it possible to amplify the heat flow which is naturally transported inside the heat exchanger by dissipating a determined quantity of heat at a desired instant. This way, changes in temperature over time close to the resistor as a function of the quantity of heat which the latter releases are directly proportional to the extent to which the plate, with which the resistor is in contact, has become coated in scale. In fact, the extent of fouling of the fluid circuit modifies the specific heat of the plate and thus the rate at which its temperature can rise. Such a solution has many advantages because the temperature increase is the result of a quantity of energy which is externally introduced at a level which is higher than the heat flow resulting from the heat exchange phenomena for which the heat exchanger is designed. Detection is therefore highly sensitive and virtually insensitive to the heat exchange phenomena which occur in the heat exchanger.
A second important advantage is the fact that the electrical resistor and the temperature measuring device are located at the end of the heat exchanger. In fact, research has
demonstrated that fouling of a heat exchanger is uniform over all the plates of the circuit, including the edge plates. Evaluating the overall fouling of a heat exchanger by making a measurement on an end plate in the stack is therefore representative. The resulting advantage is the fact that the device for evaluating fouling can be fitted in a brand new heat exchanger or can be added to an existing heat exchanger by inserting the distinctive resistor. The presence of the device for evaluating fouling does not alter the performance of the heat exchanger or influence the friction losses of the fluid circuits in anyway whatsoever.
In practice, the electrical resistor can be placed between the plate located at the far end of the stack and the frame of the heat exchanger or, more generally, any component which forms a fixed or movable end for the stack of plates.
It is also possible to place the electrical resistor between the last plate in the stack and an additional plate which has the same geometry as the other plates but is not used in order to form the fluid circuits. This way, the electrical resistor comes into contact with the last plate in the stack which plays a role in defining the fluid circuits and is covered by an additional plate or "cosmetic" component which is pressed against the rest of the stack of plates.
Advantageously and in practice, this assembly may comprise a layer of insulating material located on the same side as the electrical resistor and opposite the end plate of the stack. In fact, in this case attempts are preferably made to minimise the heat exchanger' thermal losses into its surroundings so that the heat flow generated by the distinctive resistor is in the direction of the last plate of the heat exchanger which is involved in heat exchanges.
In practice, evaluating the extent to which the heat exchanger has become coated in scale involves supplying electrical energy to the electrical resistor periodically or in pulses or in timed stages so as to cause a local increase in the temperature of the plate which is fouled to a greater or lesser extent. Local measurement of the temperature makes it possible to compare changes in temperature in the vicinity of the distinctive resistor to predetermined change profiles. Depending on the departure from these reference profiles, it is possible to deduce any modification of the specific heat of the plate due to an additional thickness of coated scale.
Evaluating the extent of fouling of a heat exchanger in real-time can be used on a snapshot-basis in order to check the degree of fouling through the absolute or relative value of the thickness of coated scale or to provide a differential value which shows the fouling change dynamics. Statistics can be generated allowing follow-up of changes in these values.
In special cases where the heat exchanger is fitted with an automatic cleaning device, one can make provision for the device for evaluating the extent of fouling to output a signal which is used in order to control such cleaning devices in order to trigger them when fouling measurements so require and to switch them off when measurements indicate that the heat exchanger is in a satisfactory condition.
Brief description of the drawings
In order that the way in which the invention is implemented and its resulting advantages may more readily be understood, the following description is given, reference being made to the accompanying drawings.
Figure 1 is a schematic perspective view of a heat exchanger in accordance with the
invention shown in a configuration obtained before tightening the various plates together.
Figure 2 is a schematic partial cross-sectional view of a first method of mounting the
distinctive resistor between a plate and the heat exchanger's frame.
Figure 3 is a schematic partial cross-sectional view of an alternative method of mounting
the resistance between two plates having a similar geometry.
Figure 4 is a top view of an element including the distinctive resistor.
Figures 5 and 6 are graphs showing changes over time in the temperature measured in the
vicinity of the distinctive resistor with variable heat exchange capacity and variable
Description of the preferred embodiments
As stated earlier, the invention relates to a plate-type heat exchanger equipped with a device making it possible, in real time, to evaluate the extent to which it has become coated in scale. Such a heat exchanger can be built in various ways, for example by using plates which are welded or brazed together and secured in a rigid frame or, as shown in Figure 1, by using a set of plates which are stacked and tightened in a frame.
More precisely, the heat exchanger (1) shown in Figure 1 comprises a plurality of plates (2) stacked one against the other in order to define fluid circuits by means of openings (3, 4) through which fluids can pass. These plates are secured relative to each other by means of a frame (6) which includes two end elements (7, 8). End element (7) is movable and can be moved closer to end element (8) in order to press all the plates together. This heat exchanger (1) is therefore shown before tightening and this makes it possible to identify the last plate (10) of the heat exchanger which defines the fluid circuits. The heat exchanger also comprises the distinctive resistor mounted on element (20) located between last plate (10) and end element (8).
More precisely and as shown in Figure 2, electrical resistor (21) can be mounted on a flat, flexible element (20) of the integrated-circuit type which is placed between end element (8) and last plate (10) which is involved in defining fluid circuits (13, 14) with interposed layers (15, 16) of insulating material (15, 16). Layer (15) which thermally connects resistor (21) to last plate (20) of the stack must have heat conduction properties which are substantially similar to those of plate (20), the thermal behaviour of which it must make possible to evaluate. In practice, this layer of insulating material (15) can typically be made of Kapton .
The insulating layer (16) placed between element (20) which supports resistor (21) and end element (8) of the heat exchanger must be highly thermally insulating so that the heat flow generated by resistor (21) travels in the direction of plate (20) rather than towards the outside of the heat exchanger. In practice, this material is chosen depending on the performance of the heat exchanger and the other materials which are used to make plates (2, 10) and resistor support (20). The force applied to tighten the assembly of stacked plates to the two end elements makes it possible to ensure good heat conduction between electrical resistor (21) and plate (10), the scale coating of which is to be measured.
An alternative mounting system is shown in Figure 3 whereby element (30) which supports electrical resistor (31) is placed between two plates having a similar geometry. Plate (10) which constitutes the last plate of the stack defining the fluid circuits is thermally connected to resistor (31) via a layer (35) which is similar to layer (15) in Figure 2. An additional plate (32) which, typically, can be a plate which is identical to the other plates of the heat exchanger but not involved in defining the fluid circuits,
sandwiches element (30) which supports resistor (31), also via an insulating layer (36). This insulating layer (36) is designed to direct the heat flow from the resistor towards the heat exchanger rather than towards the outside of the heat exchanger.
In practice, the distinctive resistor can be placed in various locations in the heat exchanger. As shown in Figure 1, the resistor can be placed between the last plate and frame (8) but it can also be placed at the other end between the first plate and frame (7).
In practice, the electrical resistor can be produced as shown in Figure 4 as a metallic track deposited on a relatively flexible substrate. This resistor (21) is associated with one or more thermocouples (24) which are used to measure the temperature in the immediate vicinity of resistor (21). Two power supply terminals (42, 43) can be provided, together with all the necessary wiring and connectors, making it possible to supply the resistor from outside the heat exchanger. The resistor can also be produced as a one-piece component (20 and 21 are then a single object). In this case, the resistor extends over the full height but the measurement remains localised in the area of the thermocouples.
During operation, the sensor (20) consisting of resistor (21) and thermocouples (24) generates a heat flow when electric power is supplied to resistor (21). The resistor can be supplied by pulses or, preferably, by a current step. In this case, the resistor heats up and creates thermal non-equilibrium between the assembly consisting of the plates of the heat exchanger (10), insulating layer (15) and resistor (21) and its support (20). The thermocouples (24) placed close to electrical resistor (21) make it possible to record changes in temperature. In practice, it has been found that the higher the system's heat exchange capacity is. the more the response to this excitation is dampened.
As shown in Figure 5, if the system has a high heat exchange capacity, the temperature which is reached, shown by the solid line (50), is lower than the temperature reached if the heat exchange capacity is lower, shown by the dashed line (51). Given that the heat flow generated by resistor (21) is oriented almost exclusively inwards into the heat exchanger, the temperature change dynamics in the system depend only on the heat exchange capacity at the level of plate (10) of the heat exchanger and the thermal inertia of plate (10), this heat exchange capacity and this thermal inertia themselves being a function of the degree of fouling.
Calculations to determine the thermal behaviour of such systems can be directly modelled on the thermal-dipole method (Maillet, D., Degiovanni, Methode analytique de conduction inverse appliquee a la mesure du coefficient de transfert local sur un cylindre en convection forcee, [Reverse heat-conduction analytical method applied to measuring the local transfer coefficient on a cylinder with forced convection], Revue de physique appliquee, Volume 24, pages 741-759, 1989). Thus, by analysing the sensitivity to these parameters, it can be demonstrated that, firstly, the system is sensitive and, secondly, that the effects of specific-heat modification are uncorrelated due to the thickness of the extra coating of scale on the material of plate (10), which can be identified over short periods, and the heat exchange coefficient, which can be identified over longer periods. By performing these types of measurements periodically using pulses or steps, it is possible to obtain a network of curves which change over time, as illustrated in Figure 6.
Thus, assuming the heat exchanger is operating under identical conditions, it is apparent that the change in temperature under conditions where fouling is slight, as shown by the solid line (60), is different to the change in the fouled condition, as shown by the dashed line (61). Analysing these changes therefore makes it possible, by prior calibration, to establish the relationship between temperature measurenients and the average thickness of scale on the plate.
It is evident from the above that heat exchangers equipped with the device for evaluating the extent to which they have become coated in scale in accordance with the invention have numerous advantages. In fact, they:
- are sufficiently sensitive to output a representative signal, even in the case of heat exchangers where flows are relatively reduced,
- have the ability to be fitted in new heat exchangers or even be added to existing heat exchangers,
- have a relatively low cost because their operation is based on using a planar electrical resistor and a limited number of thermocouples.
1/ A plate-type heat exchanger (1) comprising a plurality of stacked plates (2) and including a device (20) for evaluating the extent to which the fluid circuit(s) have become coated in scale, characterised in that the evaluation device (20) comprises an electrical resistor (21) which is thermally connected to plate (10) located at the end of the stack and means (24) of measuring the temperature in the immediate vicinity of said resistor.
2/ A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1, characterised in that electrical resistor (21) is placed between plate (20) located at the end of the stack and the frame (8) of the heat exchanger.
3/ A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1, characterised in that electrical resistor (31) is placed between plate (10) located at the end of the stack and an additional plate (32).
4/ A heat exchanger as claimed in claim 1, characterised in that it comprises a layer of an insulating material (16, 36) located between electrical resistor (21, 3) and the frame of the heat exchanger.
5/ A method for evaluating the extent to which a plate-type heat exchanger has become coated in scale as claimed in any claims 1 to 4, characterised in that it involves supplying electric power to electrical resistor (21), then comparing changes in the temperature in the vicinity of said resistor to predetermined change profiles.
6/ A method as claimed in claim 5, characterised in that power is supplied to the electrical resistor by periodic pulses.
7/ A method as claimed in claim 5, characterised in that power is supplied to the electrical resistor in timed steps.
8/ A method as claimed in claim 5, characterized in that the device for evaluating the extent of coating in scale outputs a signal which is used to control a device for cleaning the heat exchanger.
Dated this 23rd day of July, 2008
FOR COMMISSARIAT A LENERGIE ATOMIQUE & ARMINES
(UMA BHATTAD) KRISHNA & SAURASTRI
|Indian Patent Application Number||1566/MUMNP/2008|
|PG Journal Number||12/2013|
|Date of Filing||23-Jul-2008|
|Name of Patentee||COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE|
|Applicant Address||25, RUE LEBLANC, IMMEUBLE "LE PONANT D", 75015 PARIS,|
|PCT International Classification Number||G01N17/00|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/FR2007/050705|
|PCT International Filing date||2007-01-29|