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Where are finned tubes used?

Finned tubes are the main components of heat exchangers. They are a series of tubes where fins have been added on the outside to increase the contact area with the outside fluid, to exchange heat and between the fluid inside the tube and the fluid outside the tube.

Finned tube heat exchangers generally use air to cool or heat fluids such as air, water, oil or gas, or they can be used to capture or recover waste heat. These heat exchangers can used in a broad range of industries including oil & gas, power generation, marine and HVAC&R.

Serrated Finned tubesFinned tube heat exchangers have a wide range of applications, a few of which are:

1. diesel charge air coolers;  2. oil coolers; 3. hydrogen coolers; 4. waste heat recovery; driers; 5. air conditioning; 6. air heaters; 7. steam condensers; 8. generator coolers

Finned tube heat exchangers are often used in circumstances where air is the preferred medium for the cooling or heating, particularly where there is limited or poor quality water.

In a finned tube heat exchanger, heat is exchanged between a thermally efficient fluid that transports heat efficiently, such as a liquid which has some viscosity, and a fluid that does not, such as air or gas with little density. On the ‘air side’, the tube surface is enhanced by the addition of fins or other elements such as looped wires, designed to increase the surface area of the tube and improve its thermal performance.

Fins can range in height (high-fin to low-fin) and the fins can be either pressure connected to the outer surface of the tube or formed into the tube surface.

Depending on the intended duty and the environment in which they are to operate, finned tubes can be manufactured in numerous designs and incorporate a combination of differing materials for both the tubes and the fins. The types and combinations of tubes and fins is significant.