How it works | Alfa Laval

How do spiral heat exchangers work

Spiral heat exchanger working principle

Alfa Laval spiral heat exchangersAlfa Laval spiral heat exchangers are circular units containing two concentric spiral flow channels, one for each fluid. The different media flow counter currently: one fluid enters the centre of the unit and flows towards the periphery, the other enters the unit at the periphery and moves towards the centre. The channels are curved and have a uniform cross section. There is no risk of intermixing.

The product channel is normally open on one side and closed on the other. The channel for the heating/cooling medium can sometimes be closed on both sides, depending on the cleanliness of the heating/cooling medium. Each channel has one connection in the centre and one on the periphery of the heat exchanger.

Design of spiral heat exchangers

The spiral geometry, with a single channel for each medium and continuous curving, is highly suitable for fluids that tend to cause fouling. This design results in high flow turbulence with resulting high shear stress, dramatically reducing the risk of fouling.

The single-channel geometry also creates a scrubbing effect that we refer to as the SelfClean™ design. If fouling does occur in the heat transfer channel, the cross-section of this part of the channel is decreased. However, since the entire flow must still pass through the channel, the velocity increases, the resulting fluid force then flushing away any accumulations of deposits as they form.

Compare this design with shell-and-tube heat exchangers where the flow enters different tubes in parallel. When tubes start to foul, pressure drop increases pushing the fluid to find alternative flow paths. The result is that fouling and clogging of the tubes happens very quickly. With Alfa Laval spirals, on the other hand, fouling and clogging is virtually eliminated.

Watch the below animations to find out more.


SpiralPro Steam Heater