Shell and tube heat exchangers are a common site throughout the engineering world and are one of the two most common types of heat exchanger; the other common type being the plate heat exchanger.
Shell and tube heat exchangers have a simple design, robust characteristics and relatively low purchase and maintenance costs. They also have a very high heat transfer rate although they require more space than a plate heat exchanger of similar thermal exchange capacity.
A shell and tube heat exchanger consists of a series of tubes housed within a cylindrical container known as a ‘shell’. All tubes within the shell are collectively termed a ‘tube bundle’ or ‘tube nest’). Each tube passes through a series of baffles and tubesheets (also known as ‘tube stacks’). One of the tubesheets is fixed and one is free to move, this allows for thermal expansion as the heat exchanger is heated.