In a new white paper on refrigerant selection, Swedish manufacturer Alfa Laval contends that plate heat exchangers provide greater heat transfer within a compact design and smaller footprint than alternative thermal technologies.

The white paper – “Navigating a changing refrigerants market” –  aims to help readers select and accommodate the right refrigerant for a variety of heating and cooling applications. It includes information on natural and synthetic refrigerants, regulations and trends in heat pumps, air conditioning and refrigeration.

In a chapter on heat exchangers, Alfa Laval argues that with their heat transfer advantages, plate heat exchangers can perform the same duties as alternatives with a lower refrigerant charge.

In addition, plate technology “makes it possible to achieve a closer temperature approach at reasonable pressure drop cost,” said the white paper. “This means the plate heat exchanger technology will increase the overall system performance.”

“Each refrigerant option offers different advantages and potential drawbacks,” said Matteo Munari, Head of Application & Product Development for Brazed Plate Heat Exchangers at Alfa Laval. “Readers of this white paper will hopefully walk away with a much better understanding of which solutions offer the best choice for their specific needs, and what types of heat exchanger technology will be needed to handle the challenges of those particular refrigerants.”

The white paper details three types of plate heat exchanger technology.

  • Copper-brazed technology: Includes a number of models optimized for transcritical CO2 and hydrocarbons, mainly propane (R290). Copper-brazed technology includes new features that enable a low-refrigerant-charge asymmetric channel design for high-density and propane refrigerants.
  • Semi-welded technology: Offers solutions for ammonia heat pumps and refrigeration, CO2 evaporators and ammonia-CO2 cascade systems. New developments in semi-welded technology include non-circular ports and distribution areas optimizing media flow, both of which ensures low pressure drops.
  • Fusion-bonded technology: A unique technology especially suited for ammonia in small-capacity systems and hydrocarbons. AlfaFusion, as the company calls the technology, offers 100% stainless steel heat exchangers for improved hygiene and corrosion resistance.

Read more about the three types of heat exchanger technology here.

A recent addition to Alfa Laval’s heat exchanger portfolio is the AXP82, a brazed plate heat exchanger designed specifically for CO2 applications. The AXP82 will enable use of “the same heat exchanger design for a wider kW [capacity] range of transcritical duties than possible with previous models,” said Alfa Laval at the launch in February 2021.

In an effort to improve sustainability, Alfa Laval as also recently launched a recycling program for its heat exchangers, promising ”up to 100% metal regeneration” as well as replacement of less efficient models.