Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A heat exchanger is a device for transferring heat from one fluid to another, where the fluids are separated by a solid wall so that they never mix. They are widely used in refrigeration, air conditioning, space heating, power production, and chemical processing. One common example of a heat exchanger is the radiator in a car, in which the hot radiator fluid is cooled by the flow of air over the radiator surface.
Heat exchangers may be classified according to their flow arrangement. In parallel-flow heat exhangers, the two fluids enter the exchanger at the same end, and travel in parallel to one another to the other side. In counterflow heat exchangers, which are often more efficient, the fluids enter the exchanger from opposite ends. See countercurrent exchange. In a cross-flow heat exchanger, the fluids travel roughly perpendicular to one another through the exchanger.
For efficiency, heat exchangers are designed to maximize the surface area of the wall between the two fluids, while minimizing resistance to fluid flow through the exchanger. The exchanger's performance can also be affected by the addition of fins or corrugations in one or both directions, which increase surface area and may channel fluid flow or induce mixing. A typical heat exchanger consists of a series of finned tubes, through which one of the fluids runs. The second fluid runs over the finned tubes to be heated or cooled.
Heat exchangers occur naturally in the circulation system of whales. Arteries to the skin carrying warm blood are intertwined with veins from the skin carrying cold blood causing the warm arterial blood to exchange heat with the cold venous blood. This reduces overall heat loss by the whale when diving in cold waters.
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