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What is a Plate Coil?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 17, 2024
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A plate coil is a heat exchange devices that makes use of flat metal plates welded together with a fluid flow channel between them to absorb or shed thermal energy. The plate coil heat exchanger design offers several distinct advantages over pipe coil and stacked plate designs including larger heat radiating surfaces, flexible shaping, and space saving characteristics. Depending on the system requirements, plate coils can be stacked together to form modular units or formed to fit into drums or pipes. The plates can be rolled into cylinders as small as 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter, thus making the plate coil a flexible and efficient heat exchange option.

Introducing or removing heat from an environment or material is typically achieved by heat transfer or exchange. This concept forms the basis of all air and fluid conditioning systems and works on the principle of allowing a medium, generally a liquid or gas, to absorb heat from one location and move it to another. Heat exchangers typically make use of water to effect this transfer of thermal energy. Most work by channeling water through a series of tubes or vessels where they either absorb or shed heat through the flow path surfaces. Obviously the larger those surfaces are, the larger the transfer area and the better the exchanger will work.

The plate coil exchanger capitalizes on this concept by utilizing flat stainless steel or titanium plates which are embossed with a predetermined pattern on one or both sides. When these patterns are lined up with those on a second plate, they form a channel or flow path between the plates. This channel features two points where it exits the internal area which are equipped with in and outlet fittings. When water is circulated through the channel, it effectively uses both the channel and the entire plate surface as a radiating mechanism to shed or absorb heat. This design allows for large radiating areas in an assembly with flat, compact physical dimensions.

Another benefit of the plate coil is its flexibility in forming. The plates can be banked together to form modular stacks, and the plates themselves can be formed into different shapes depending on the application. As noted above, cylindrical plate coil assemblies can be concentrically stacked in drums, tanks, or pipes as small as 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. This allows for the maximum use of most internal profiles while still allowing good flow patterns and optimal thermal exposure and transfer. Plate coils are also fairly easy to maintain and replace if necessary, thereby further adding to their value as efficient heat exchange mechanisms.

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