Meeting needs energy efficiency & reliability

Meeting needs of energy efficiency & reliability

5:01 AM, 12th December 2018
Fabrizio Palmeri, Executive Vice President, Application Engineering, Kelvion Germany GmbH
Fabrizio Palmeri, Executive Vice President, Application Engineering, Kelvion Germany GmbH.

By Shivani Mody

In an interview, Fabrizio Palmeri, Executive Vice President, Application Engineering, Kelvion Germany GmbH with Chemical Today magazine delves into the evolving growth of heat exchangers market to suit the changing needs of the chemical industry.

Global trends in heat exchangers used in chemical industry.

We are continuously monitoring trends in the market, while keeping a close eye on a few basic indicators. When it comes to the development of the heat exchangers (HX) market, the most interesting of these indicators is activities related to reducing emissions.

According to the projections of the IEA (International Energy Agency), energy efficiency will increasingly be the major source for emissions reduction. It is basically intended as a better use of energy, implementing more efficient processes and supporting energy savings.

When it comes to the most energy-intensive manufacturing processes, like chemical or oil & gas, this will mean an extensive and responsible use of heat exchangers.

Based on this trend, and taking into account Kelvion’s extensive technologies portfolio, the development and use of HX in the chemical industry will keep on growing over the next years.

Evolution in design and materials for heat exchangers.

Up until a few years ago the priority, for many industries, was production, regardless of efficiency. Today, production is still paramount, but other priorities have ramped up. Energy efficiency, emissions reductions – for example clean fuelsrelated projects – and OPEX optimizations are factors that can kill-off or push an investment. Recent investigations among some of our key clients have indicated that efficiency and reliability are the most important values when approving a HX investment.

Growth factors driving the market.

Energy saving and energy efficiency are driving the demand, together with the changes in demands for fuels. NG (Natural gas) demand, globally, is driving the demand for HX, and this very much varies from region to region. A sector not completely disconnected from the chemical one is oil & gas – therefore more upstream. There is a strong demand in the oil & gas market, where Kelvion is also a main player, driven mainly by the stable cost of the crude barrel and by energy efficiency.

Market potential of HX in developed and emerging markets.

Overall, there is growth potential in both: on the mature markets – also defined as developed – there are different drivers and different investment paces, more pointing towards efficiency optimizations. In the emerging markets growth in demand will be driven more by improving living standards leading, globally speaking, to bigger investments.

Potential of plate heat exchangers.

When talking about plate heat exchangers (PHE), we must first distinguish between gasketed (GPHE) and welded (WPHE): their limits of utilization, and as a consequence their usage, are totally different. WPHEs do not have interpolated gaskets and can therefore reach higher temperatures, higher pressure and can cope with more corrosive media. GPHEs are – because of the elastomer gaskets between the plates – more suited to utilities and lighter services. WPHEs are definitely, and geometrically, ideal for heat recoveries and therefore projects driven by energy saving. Plate heat exchangers are widely used in chemical industry in the most diverse sectors, such as the cooling and heating of base or final products. Industrial drying, gas cooling, steam condensation make use of heat exchanger for the cooling of conveying air, compress gas pressure etc. Kelvion is one of the leading global suppliers of both GPHEs and WPHEs.

Digitalization in heat exchangers equipment segment.

There is not a strong impact on the HX segment yet: the last development is related to the remote transmission of performances from a process plant to the control room. In a process plant, the Industry 4.0 concept does come into play with respect to the processing equipment such as the pumps, heat exchangers and cooling towers. Across all industries, plants are now deploying additional sensors to enable the condition and performance of a broader scope of equipment (‘things’) such as pumps, cooling towers, blowers and valves around the site to be monitored online from a central location. Sensors are also added to computerise energy management and improve situational awareness. This includes sensors for pressure, flow, fluid level, valve position, vibration, temperature, acoustic noise, corrosion, pipe wall thickness, electric power consumption etc, depending on the application.

These transmitters are often wireless as this is the easiest way to add more sensors to an existing plant. If the site uses digital Fieldbus, that also makes it simple to integrate additional devices. By automating data collection, plants become more productive as time is saved gathering data that then frees up personnel to perform more value-added activities like fixing small issues detected before they turn into big problems. Since data is more current, up to the minute or hour instead of weekly or monthly, maintenance becomes much more predictive.

Overview on heat exchangers business in Asia Pacific.

Kelvion has a strong presence and important growth ambitions in both APAC and India. Those ambitions are supported not only by a sales presence, but also by a manufacturing footprint, in Pune (India) and in Changshu and Wuhu (China). There is a strong demand for WPHEs (welded plate heat exchangers) but also for AFC (air fin coolers), ACC (air cooled condensers) and air dryers. The Kelvion strategy, particularly for APAC and India, relies on a higher share of local manufacturing in order to optimize the regional supply chains, to the benefit of both Kelvion’s global and local values.

R&D and innovation activities.

One of the most recent and valuable innovations in the Kelvion products range is related to AFC (air fin coolers) for both the chemical and oil & gas industries. Called DIESTA, this innovation is an extremely efficient tube technology, with internal and external special designs. The DIESTA tubes increase the efficiency of our AFCs enormously, representing a perfect match with the growing demand – mentioned above – for energy efficiency.

Impact of rising use of renewable energy sources on HX market.

There will be an impact for sure but, as mentioned above from the IES outlook, this will remain lower compared to the energy efficiency demand. Over the next 15 years, the investments driven by renewables will account for 17 percent of the emissions reductions, while energy efficiency is projected to account for 49 percent.

Challenges faced in the heat exchangers segment.

The main challenge is related to the rising consumer purchasing power, which is driving demand for chemicals and the products made from them, particularly in Asia. This puts heat exchangers into the commodities segment. It will be important to consider costs and prices, but finding a balance between this aspect and the quality and know-how of the few global leading manufacturers, like Kelvion, that must continue to deliver reliable heat transfer solutions to the industry.

At the same time, dwindling oil and gas reserves are fuelling the search for new feedstocks, such as biomass. The major challenge for the industry lies in helping the growing world population to maintain and improve its standard of living sustainably.

© Chemical Today magazine

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