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Heat exchangers
Continuous-flow Heat Exchangers
Jacketed Pans
Heating Coils Immersed in Liquids
Scraped Surface Heat Exchangers
Plate Heat Exchangers

The principles of heat transfer are widely used in food processing in many items of equipment. It seems appropriate to discuss these under the various applications that are commonly encountered in nearly every food factory.


In a heat exchanger, heat energy is transferred from one body or fluid stream to another. In the design of heat exchange equipment, heat transfer equations are applied to calculate this transfer of energy so as to carry it out efficiently and under controlled conditions. The equipment goes under many names, such as boilers, pasteurizers, jacketed pans, freezers, air heaters, cookers, ovens and so on. The range is too great to list completely. Heat exchangers are found widely scattered throughout the food process industry.

Continuous-flow Heat Exchangers

It is very often convenient to use heat exchangers in which one or both of the materials that are exchanging heat are fluids, flowing continuously through the equipment and acquiring or giving up heat in passing.

One of the fluids is usually passed through pipes or tubes, and the other fluid stream is passed round or across these. At any point in the equipment, the local temperature differences and the heat transfer coefficients control the rate of heat exchange.

The fluids can flow in the same direction through the equipment, this is called parallel flow; they can flow in opposite directions, called counter flow; they can flow at right angles to each other, called cross flow. Various combinations of these directions of flow can occur in different parts of the exchanger. Most actual heat exchangers of this type have a mixed flow pattern, but it is often possible to treat them from the point of view of the predominant flow pattern. Examples of these exchangers are illustrated in Figure 6.1.

Figure 6.1 Heat exchangers
Figure 6.1 Heat exchangers

In parallel flow, at the entry to the heat exchanger, there is the maximum temperature difference between the coldest and the hottest stream, but at the exit the two streams can only approach each other's temperature. In a counter flow exchanger, leaving streams can approach the temperatures of the entering stream of the other component and so counter flow exchangers are often preferred.

Applying the basic overall heat-transfer equation for the the heat exchanger heat transfer:

q = UA DT

uncertainty at once arises as to the value to be chosen for DT, even knowing the temperatures in the entering and leaving streams.

Consider a heat exchanger in which one fluid is effectively at a constant temperature, Tb as illustrated in Fig. 6.1(d). Constant temperature in one component can result either from a very high flow rate of this component compared with the other component, or from the component being a vapour such as steam or ammonia condensing at a high rate, or from a boiling liquid. The heat-transfer coefficients are assumed to be independent of temperature.

The rate of mass flow of the fluid that is changing temperature is G kg s-1, its specific heat is cp J kg-1 °C-1. Over a small length of path of area dA, the mean temperature of the fluid is T and the temperature drop is dT. The constant temperature fluid has a temperature Tb. The overall heat transfer coefficient is U J m-2 s-1 °C-1.

Therefore the heat balance over the short length is:

               cpGdT = U(T - Tb)dA

  Therefore U/)cpG) dA = dT/(T –Tb)

If this is integrated over the length of the tube in which the area changes from A = 0 to A = A, and T changes from T1 to T2, we have:

          U/(cpG) A = ln[(T1 – Tb)/(T2 - Tb)]               (where ln = loge)                             
                          = ln (
DT1/ DT2)
      in which
DT1 = (T1 – Tb) and DT2 = (T2 - Tb)

therefore       cpG = UA/ ln (DT1/ DT2)

From the overall equation, the total heat transferred per unit time is given by

                       q = UADTm
DTm is the mean temperature difference, but the total heat transferred per unit is also:

                       q = cpG(T1 –T2)

                   so q = UADTm = cpG(T1 –T2) = UA/ ln (DT1/ DT2)] x (T1 –T2)

but (T1 –T2) can be written (T1 – Tb) - (T2 - Tb)

         so (T1 –T2) = (DT1 - DT2)

therefore UADTm = UA(DT1 - DT2) / ln (DT1/ DT2)                                                 (6.1)

so that
DTm  = (DT1 - DT2) / ln (DT1/ DT2)                                                      (6.2)

where DTm is called the log mean temperature difference.

In other words, the rate of heat transfer can be calculated using the heat transfer coefficient, the total area, and the log mean temperature difference. This same result can be shown to hold for parallel flow and counter flow heat exchangers in which both fluids change their temperatures.

The analysis of cross-flow heat exchangers is not so simple, but for these also the use of the log mean temperature difference gives a good approximation to the actual conditions if one stream does not change very much in temperature.

EXAMPLE 6.1. Cooling of milk in a pipe heat exchanger
Milk is flowing into a pipe cooler and passes through a tube of 2.5 cm internal diameter at a rate of 0.4 kg s-1. Its initial temperature is 49°C and it is wished to cool it to 18°C using a stirred bath of constant 10°C water round the pipe. What length of pipe would be required? Assume an overall coefficient of heat transfer from the bath to the milk of 900 J m-2 s-1 °C-1, and that the specific heat of milk is 3890 J kg-1 °C-1.

                      q = cpG (T1 –T2)
                         = 3890 x 0.4 x (49 - 18)
                         = 48,240 J s-1

Also                       q = UADTm

                 DTm = [(49 - 10) - (18 –10)] / ln[(49 -10)1(18 - 10)]
                         = 19.6°C.
Therefore 48,240 = 900 x A x l9.6
                      A = 2.73 m2
                but A =
where L is the length of pipe of diameter D
               Now D = 0.025 m.
                      L = 2.73/(
p x 0.025)
                         = 34.8 m

This can be extended to the situation where there are two fluids flowing, one the cooled fluid and the other the heated fluid. Working from the mass flow rates (kg s-1) and the specific heats of the two fluids, the terminal temperatures can normally be calculated and these can then be used to determine DTm and so, from the heat-transfer coefficients, the necessary heat-transfer surface.

EXAMPLE 6.2. Water chilling in a counter flow heat exchanger
In a counter flow heat exchanger, water is being chilled by a sodium chloride brine. If the rate of flow of the brine is 1.8 kg s-1 and that of the water is 1.05 kg s-1, estimate the temperature to which the water is cooled if the brine enters at -8°C and leaves at 10°C, and if the water enters the exchanger at 32°C. If the area of the heat-transfer surface of this exchanger is 55 m2, what is the overall heat-transfer coefficient? Take the specific heats to be 3.38 and 4.18 kJ kg-1 °C-1 for the brine and the water respectively.
With heat exchangers a small sketch is often helpful:

FIG. 6.2. Diagrammatic heat exchanger
Figure 6.2. Diagrammatic heat exchanger

Figure 6.2 shows three temperatures are known and the fourth Tw2 (= T''2 say on Fig 6.2) can be found from the heat balance:
By heat balance, heat loss in brine = heat gain in water

1.8 x 3.38 x [10 - (-8)] = 1.05 x 4.18 x (32 - Tw2)
            Therefore Tw2 = 7°C.
And for counterflow

                                  DT1 = [32 - 10] = 22°C and DT2 = [7 - (-8)] = 15°C.

           Therefore DTm = (22 - 15)/ln(22/15)
                                 = 7/0.382
                                 = 18.3°C.

For the heat exchanger

                              q = heat exchanged between fluids = heat lost by brine = heat gain to water
                                 = heat passed across heat transfer surface
                                 = UA
          3.38 x 1.8 x 18 = U x 55 x 18.3
                              U = 0.11 kJ m-2 °C-1
                                 = 110 J m-2 °C-1

Parallel flow situations can be worked out similarly, making appropriate adjustments.

In some cases, heat-exchanger problems cannot be solved so easily; for example, if the heat transfer coefficients have to be calculated from the basic equations of heat transfer which depend on flow rates and temperatures of the fluids, and the temperatures themselves depend on the heat-transfer coefficients. The easiest way to proceed then is to make sensible estimates and to go through the calculations. If the final results are coherent, then the estimates were reasonable. If not, then make better estimates, on the basis of the results, and go through a new set of calculations; and if necessary repeat again until consistent results are obtained. For those with multiple heat exchangers to design, computer programmes are available.

Jacketed Pans

In a jacketed pan, the liquid to be heated is contained in a vessel, which may also be provided with an agitator to keep the liquid on the move across the heat-transfer surface, as shown in Fig. 6.3(a).

Figure 6.3. Heat exchange equipment
Figure 6.3. Heat exchange equipment

The source of heat is commonly steam condensing in the vessel jacket. Practical considerations of importance are:
1. There is the minimum of air with the steam in the jacket.
2. The steam is not superheated as part of the surface must then be used as a de-superheater over which low gas heat-transfer coefficients apply rather than high condensing coefficients.
3. Steam trapping to remove condensate and air is adequate.

The action of the agitator and its ability to keep the fluid moved across the heat transfer surface are important. Some overall heat transfer coefficients are shown in Table 6.1. Save for boiling water, which agitates itself, mechanical agitation is assumed. Where there is no agitation, coefficients may be halved.


Condensing fluid
Heated fluid
Pan material
Heat transfer coefficients
J m-2 s-1 °C-1
Thin liquid
Thick liquid
Stainless steel
Water, boiling

EXAMPLE 6.3. Steam required to heat pea soup in jacketed pan
Estimate the steam requirement as you start to heat 50 kg of pea soup in a jacketed pan, if the initial temperature of the soup is 18°C and the steam used is at 100 kPa gauge. The pan has a heating surface of 1 m2 and the overall heat transfer coefficient is assumed to be 300 J m-2 s-1 °C-1.

From steam tables (Appendix 8), saturation temperature of steam at 100 kPa gauge = 120°C and latent heat =
l = 2202 kJ kg-1.

                                               q = UA DT
                                                  = 300 x 1 x (120 - 18)
                                                  = 3.06 x 104 J s-1
Therefore amount of steam
                                                  = q/
l = (3.06 x 104)/(2.202 x 106)
                                                  = 1.4 x 10-2 kg s-1
                                                  = 1.4 x 10-2 x 3.6 x 103
                                                  = 50 kg h-1.

This result applies only to the beginning of heating; as the temperature rises less steam will be consumed as DT decreases.
The overall heating process can be considered by using the analysis that led up to eqn. (5.6). A stirred vessel to which heat enters from a heating surface with a surface heat transfer coefficient which controls the heat flow, follows the same heating or cooling path as does a solid body of high internal heat conductivity with a defined surface heating area and surface heat transfer coefficient.

EXAMPLE 6.4. Time to heat pea soup in a jacketed pan
In the heating of the pan in Example 6.3, estimate the time needed to bring the stirred pea soup up to a temperature of 90°C, assuming the specific heat is 3.95 kJ kg-1 °C-1.

 From eqn. (5.6) (T2 - Ta)/(T1– Ta) = exp(-hsAt/crV )
                                             Ta = 120°C (temperature of heating medium)
                                             T1 = 18°C (initial soup temperature)
                                             T2 = 90°C (soup temperature at end of time t)
                                             hs = 300 J m-2 s-1 °C-1
                                              A = 1 m2, c = 3.95 kJ kg-1 °C-1.
                                            rV = 50 kg

Therefore                                  t = -3.95 x 103 x 50  x   ln (90 - 120) / (18 - 120)
                                                        300 x 1                        
                                                 = (-658) x (-1.22) s
                                                 = 803 s
                                                 = 13.4 min.

Heating Coils Immersed in Liquids

In some food processes, quick heating is required in the pan, for example, in the boiling of jam. In this case, a helical coil may be fitted inside the pan and steam admitted to the coil as shown in Fig. 6.3(b). This can give greater heat transfer rates than jacketed pans, because there can be a greater heat transfer surface and also the heat transfer coefficients are higher for coils than for the pan walls. Examples of the overall heat transfer coefficient U are quoted as:
300-1400 for sugar and molasses solutions heated with steam using a copper coil,
1800 for milk in a coil heated with water outside,
3600 for a boiling aqueous solution heated with steam in the coil.
with the units in these coefficients being J m-2 s-1 °C-1.

Scraped Surface Heat Exchangers

One type of heat exchanger, that finds considerable use in the food processing industry particularly for products of higher viscosity, consists of a jacketed cylinder with an internal cylinder concentric to the first and fitted with scraper blades, as illustrated in Fig. 6.3(c). The blades rotate, causing the fluid to flow through the annular space between the cylinders with the outer heat transfer surface constantly scraped. Coefficients of heat transfer vary with speeds of rotation but they are of the order of 900-4000 J m-2 s-1 °C-1. These machines are used in the freezing of ice cream and in the cooling of fats during margarine manufacture.

Plate Heat Exchangers

A popular heat exchanger for fluids of low viscosity, such as milk, is the plate heat exchanger, where heating and cooling fluids flow through alternate tortuous passages between vertical plates as illustrated in Fig. 6.3(d). The plates are clamped together, separated by spacing gaskets, and the heating and cooling fluids are arranged so that they flow between alternate plates. Suitable gaskets and channels control the flow and allow parallel or counter current flow in any desired number of passes. A substantial advantage of this type of heat exchanger is that it offers a large transfer surface that is readily accessible for cleaning. The banks of plates are arranged so that they may be taken apart easily. Overall heat transfer coefficients are of the order of 2400-6000 J m-2 s-1 °C-1.

Heat-Transfer Applications > THERMAL PROCESSING

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Unit Operations in Food Processing. Copyright © 1983, R. L. Earle. :: Published by NZIFST (Inc.)
NZIFST - The New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology