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Vahterus is continuously researching and developing Plate & Shell Heat Exchanger (PSHE) solutions for renewable energy applications.

In 2011, Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE) in Australia was looking for compact yet robust heat exchanger solution for a lab environment geothermal power generation system. The Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence was established in 2009 in Pinjarra Hills, Brisbane, Australia. The purpose of the research centre was to assist the uptake of geothermal power generation.

Vahterus and its Australian distributor Q-Boss Pty Ltd. worked closely for this project.  “They were successful in obtaining the contract after an internal review process. A key aspect of the review was the ability to provide compact, cost-effective, high-pressure heat exchangers suitable for the required duty.  During the tendering and supply process Vahterus and Q-Boss were very supportive, and provided assistance and information as required. In operation, the heat exchanger units have performed as required,” says a QGECE Research Officer.

Effective solutions for high pressure environments

The fully welded structure and the compact size of Vahterus PSHE proved to be a winning combination: it utilizes the thermal capabilities of corrugated plate technology and houses the plate pack in a pressure vessel (shell) to create an innovative and robust heat exchanger solution.

The QGECE’s geothermal power generation research system operates with multiple Vahterus  PSHEs:  a condenser, a recuperator and a gas cooler. Design pressure for the condenser and gas cooler is 150 bar(g) and for the recuperator 200 bar(g). Despite the high pressure standing capability, the units are only about 0.7 meters long and 1 meter high (including the support feet). For the recuperator, the temperature difference between the hot side inlet and the cold side inlet is 110 degrees Celsius. That means the unit also needs to withstand strong thermal shock.

Best results in close cooperation

Changes in the operating requirements of the final system posed a challenge during the design stage.

“Vahterus was asked to provide multiple revisions to the heat exchanger proposal, which assisted the team in arriving at an effective final solution,” says the QGECE Research Officer.

As an end result of the close cooperation between Vahterus, Q-Boss, and the customer, the units were successfully put into operation.

More recently, the system had a piping upgrade. The team worked effectively again to allow the upgrade to proceed rapidly.