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Air Fin Cooler

Optimisation for Offshore

& Onshore Application
Air coolers might be similar to heat exchangers on surface, but delving a little
deeper will result in the one seeing the differences. This paper will discuss various
air cooler design options to suite offshore and onshore (plant) requirements.

nlike shell and tube exchangers, air cooler ous layout requirement with huge variation in
design is totally different. In shell and tube HTA and air flow rate (power) requirement.
exchangers, utility flowrate is fixed, based Based on site location, the electric power supply
on cooling duty. In the case of the air cooler, can be cheap or costly. Tube material can be CS to
air flow rate is an open variable for designing. For expensive alloys. Based on fluid service, tube mate-
given cooling duty, at a higher air flowrate, air rial is fixed. Thus air cooler design involves careful
outlet temperature drops, providing higher tem- optimisation of HTA and power cost, using avail-
perature gradient (EMTD) for heat transfer. At able space for the air cooler. For expensive tubes,
higher air flowrate, air side heat transfer coeffi- HTA can be minimised by increasing power con-
cient (HTC) increases, because of higher velocity sumption. All these criteria can change, air cooler
and air side turbulence. Thus both will tend to design significantly.
reduce heat transfer area (HTA), at the cost of To suit above variation in requirements air coolers
higher fan power. allow a wide variation in hardware design; e.g.
Requirements of offshore and onshore air cooler number of bays, number of bundles per bay, number
design are quite different. For offshore structures, air of tube rows, number of tubes per rows, tube passes,
T cooler footprint and weight should be minimum, to tube length, number of fans, fan diameter and fan
reduce overall structure cost. For major offshore power, etc. Tube size and fin design can also change
E applications, tube material is exotic (expensive). Thus overall air cooler design. Generally based on applica-
C minimum HTA is economic.
For onshore or plant air coolers, generally space
tion and project specification the tube size, material
and ‘fin design’ can be fixed.
H is not a constraint. For onshore applications, air
cooler can be placed on technological structure,
For offshore applications, a compact air cooler is
designed using higher air flow rates (higher EMTD)
N pipe rack or ground. and with maximum possible tube rows. Generally
This paper will discuss various design options to this option requires higher power demand.
O suite offshore and onshore (plant) requirements. For onshore (plant) applications, available space is
Basically this involves optimisation of air cooler foot utilised, to optimize fan power and HTA of air cooler.
L print, HTA and fan power. Above optimisation should be done with consid-
If the air cooler designer or the client is not eration of following constraints.
O aware of possible design variations; then air • Maximum possible bundle width & tube length,
G cooler design may not be the best for the given
project requirement. These will be illustrated by
to suite transport & manufacturing requirements
• Minimum Number of fans per bay, maxi-
Y the Lean Amine Air Cooler example. Examples
demonstrate five alternate designs, to suit vari-
mum fan power to avoid gear drive, process
control etc.

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• Project contraints (available space etc.) resistances. Thus increase in air flowrate has double
Budget {Total cost = hardware including structure effect of increasing EMTD with increase in overall
cost and operating cost (fan power)} HTC. Both will reduce required HTA. But fan power
Example of Lean Amine Air Cooler from Amine increases with increase in air flowrate or with in-
Recovery Unit (ARU) crease in number of tube rows.
After regeneration, lean amine is cooled in lean / Design A has second lowest power requirement
rich exchanger, followed by lean amine air cooler. with reasonable HTA. While design C has highest
125 tones / hr of lean amine is cooled from 72°C to air flow / power requirement, with smallest HTA.
65°C, with the cooling duty of 1 MW. As Design C has highest power with three fans, &
Table 1 illustrates five alternate air cooler designs. similar length as design A; thus design C is not
For each design refer tube length, air cooler width, attractive for any application. Thus Design A is suit-
number of tube rows and total fan power. For same able for onshore / plant application.
cooling duty, all four parameters widely vary to suite Design D has smallest tube length with reasonable
different project requirement. Figure 1 represents the power requirement, thus suitable for offshore struc-
visual effect of foot print area and tube layouts for ture or pipe rack. Smaller length of Design D is
five alternate designs. achieved with six tube rows and highest number of
Air side thermal resistance is highest among all shorter tubes per row.

Notes :
1) Blue values are minimum and red values are maximum, for indicated parameter.
2) Bract values indicates ratio of highest value to smallest value, for indicated parameter.
3) $ - Bay width for design E (for two bundle)
4) ** Approximate foot print area of air cooler.


pass, thus inlet and outlet are at
opposite sides. This should be
discussed with Piping depart-
ment; as this is not a common
practice. Smaller Foot print of
Design B is achieved using six
tube rows, with fewer tubes per
row; as compared to design A.
Design E has smallest fan
power with smallest HTA re-
quirement. But this design occu-
pies biggest foot print area
among all options (Two tube bun-
dle per bay). Thus Design E is only
suitable for plant, with plenty of
space for air cooler. For expensive
tube material &/or costly power
supply; Design E is most attrac-
tive option among all options.

Thus it is clear that, by vary-
Design B has 40% more power requirement as ing air flow rate, number of tube rows, passes,
compared to Design A. If power is costly or space tube length and number of tubes per row, many
is not a constraint, then design A is best choice. But alternative designs are possible for single
Design B offers 50% smaller foot print (width x air cooler.
length) as compare to design A. Thus design B can Thus air cooler design involves; careful
be selected, when space is a constraint, for techno- optimisation of power, space and hardware to
logical or offshore structure. Design B has odd suite project needs. HA Enquiry Number 10/12-07

This publication thanks Mr. Manish He is proficient in Steady state simulation using
Shah for providing this paper Mr. HYSYS, UniSim, T-SWEET/PROMAX, Aspen
Manish Shah has received Degree in Plus and PRO II. He has done extensive work in
Petrochemical Engineering from MIT flare and blowdown system designing for oil
India. Mr. Shah is UK Charter engi- and gas facility. He has done Process design of
neer (CEng, MIChemE) with 16 years of process offshore & onshore oil and gas facilities with
engineering experience in leading various feasi- gas compression, gas liquid water separation,
bility study, concept, feed, basic and ‘detail engi- oil stabilisation, produced water system, acid
neering projects’ for Oil & Gas, Refinery and gas removal and gas Dehydration. Process de-
Petrochemical units. In the field of heat transfer, sign of downstream industry includes LPG re-
Mr. Shah has presented several papers in inter- covery, SRU (Sulphur recovery unit), TGTU,
national conferences and magazine. Currently, ARU, SWS and water phase sulphur oxidation.
He is working with Ranhill Worleyparsons Sdn Process design of midstream industry includes
Bhd as a Lead Process Engineer. His main spe- LSG (Low Sulphur Gasoline), DHDS (Diesel
cialization is in exchanger (shell and tube and Hydro De-Sulphurisation), Butene-1 and Mild
air cooler) and Tray/packed column designing. Hydro cracking unit.

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