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Tech 03 May. 2021

Common Industrial Applications for Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers


Many industrial processes create heated air as some type of exhaust or byproduct. Typically, this heated air gets vented outside into the environment. Air-to-air heat exchangers offer a way to capture this exhaust air and reuse it at other points in the application process. Exhaust air can preheat outside fresh air that needs to be used for certain tasks, such as curing sealants or pre-heating ovens, by running the exhaust air through tubes. When the outside air passes over the tubes, the fresh air heats up without the risk of contamination by the exhaust air.

Another type of heat exchanger, called an air-to-air plate exchanger, allows an industrial facility to harvest the potential energy found in exhaust air and provide air pollution control. The heat exchanger attaches to incinerators, kilns, and ovens. The exhausted air and clean air pass over the plates without encountering each other. The plate collects the heat from the exhaust air and passes into the clean intake air, while the cooler exhausted air condenses onto the walls and the plates. Cleaner exhaust air is then vented into the environment.

Applications That Rely on Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers

Automotive and air pollution control rely heavily on air-to-air heat exchangers to recover wasted heat energy and direct it toward other processes. Air-to-air heat exchangers allow these two industries to lower their energy costs and condition fresh outdoor air use in their applications.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry uses heat exchangers to recover heat from incinerators for use in dryers. The stainless steel construction of the heat exchanger allows it to withstand any particulates and corrosive contaminants that may collect in the exhaust flow. Because the inflow of cooler air becomes heated when passing through the heat transfer equipment, the preheated air can then be directed to e-coat and paint curing ovens. Pre-heating the air allows automotive manufacturers to spend less on outside energy sources to bring the oven temperatures up to required temperature ranges.

Air Pollution Control Systems

Large amounts of energy are used to incinerate harmful VOCs or cool compounds before a baghouse. Those incinerators use a lot of fuel to keep the burners running at the required temperature. The use of a heat exchanger can reduce this cost by using the hot air to heat up the VOC air before the burner. Or vise versa, the heat exchanger can be used to cool air streams with volatile compounds before a baghouse to be captured.

Other Industrial Heat Exchanger Applications

Many other industries also use air-to-air heat exchangers in their processes. The heat exchanger may be used to pre-cool air, pre-heat air, start curing or drying processes, and provide secondary air/heat recovery.

Industries and applications that rely on air-to-air heat exchange capabilities may include, but are not limited to:
  • Bag house precooler
  • Furnace
  • Plastics industry
  • Solvent recovery systems
  • Bakery ovens
  • Power generation
  • Printing industry
  • Mineral industry
  • Tape manufacturing
  • Bottling plant
  • Plant machine hood exhaust
  • Textile industry
  • Make up air/heat systems
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