When Stainless steel bellows used in shell heat exchanger

The bellows tube heat exchanger is an upgrade based on a straight (bright) tube heat exchanger. The design of the crest and trough of the wave inherits the advantages of the tubular heat exchanger such as durability and safety, and at the same time overcomes the defects such as poor heat transfer capacity and easy scaling. The principle is to improve the total heat transfer coefficient so as to reduce the required heat transfer area, which can save materials and reduce weight under the same heat transfer effect.

Because the bellows body is processed by cold pressing of bright pipe billet, it is generally believed that the bellows body can be strengthened after forming. The external pressure stability experiment shows that the instability of the corrugated heat exchange tube under external pressure first occurs in the straight pipe section, and the corrugated tube will be unstable only if the external pressure continues to rise. This indicates that the stability of the corrugated section is better than that of the straight section and that the critical pressure of the corrugated section is higher than that of the straight section.

Experiments show that the ripple of buckling deformation occurred in the wave trough, especially local single wave trough, generally not more than two troughs instability at the same time, it shows that the stability of the wave crest is better than trough but sometimes also can appear the opposite, in the cold pressing mark process, both trough and the wall thickness of the straight section is constant, cold after the tube is actually shorter.

The existence of wave peaks and troughs in the bellows increases the effect of radial heat exchange convection in the tubes, as shown in Fig below:

Radial convection has a great influence on the total heat transfer coefficient, which is the fundamental reason for the low price and lightweight of the double tube plate bellows heat exchanger. The heat exchange area of the tube body surface of the bellows and the straight tube is large at the same length, but this change is far less than the contribution of changing the coefficient value. It can be clearly seen that the flow velocity of the straight (light) tube is significantly reduced when it is close to the tube wall.

The shell heat exchanger with bellows can make the fluid speed and direction of constant change to form turbulence compared with a straight tube exchanger, making exchange heat with the wall, the boundary effect that affects heat transfer will no longer exist. The total heat transfer coefficient can be increased by 2 ~ 3 times, and the actual operation can even reach 5 times, and the weight is light, which is the reason why the price of bellows heat exchanger is lower than that of the straight tube heat exchanger. According to calculation and practical experience, the total heat transfer coefficient of 1 mm thick bellows is 10% lower than that of 0.5 mm thick bellows. The operation data of hundreds of bellows heat exchangers show that the wall thickness (almost all 0.5 mm) is the main reason for the operation of 10 ~ 14 years without major repair or damage.

In addition, the bellows heat exchanger can effectively resist the impact of a water hammer. The shell of the double tube plate heat exchanger is connected with an expansion joint. If it suffers from the impact of water hammer, the expansion joint will be misplaced. This happens to both bellows and straight tube heat exchangers, and the deformation of the shell may cause the tube to twist. It is because the bellows have more expansion margin, the elastic margin of strain is large when undergoing deformation, that is to say, the ability to resist instability is strong in this case. But in any case, in the process of installation to avoid the occurrence of water hammer, can be taken through the use of Angle sitting valve, delay switch and other measures.

Advantages of stainless steel bellow shell heat exchanger

  • High heat transfer efficiency

The special crest and trough design of the bellows makes the fluid flow because of the continuous mutation of the inside and outside section of the tube to form a strong turbulence. Even in the case of a very small flow rate, the fluid can form a strong disturbance inside and outside the tube, which greatly improves the heat transfer coefficient of the heat exchange tube. The heat transfer coefficient is 2~3 times higher than that of the traditional tube heat exchanger.

  • No scaling and blocking

The medium inside and outside the bellows is always in a highly turbulent state, which makes the solid particles in the medium-difficult to deposit scale; On the other hand, affected by the temperature difference of the medium will produce a trace of axial expansion deformation, the curvature will change frequently, the dirt and heat exchange tube will produce a large pull force, even if there is scale calm will therefore break off automatically, so that the heat exchanger has always maintained a lasting, better heat transfer performance.

  • Automatic compensation

The special structure and shape of bellows can effectively reduce the thermal stress under the condition of being heated without adding expansion joints, thus simplifying the structure of products and improving the reliability of products.

  • Long service life

The axial expansion ability is enhanced, which effectively reduces the temperature difference stress and can adapt to the large temperature difference and pressure change, so there will be no leakage caused by pipe mouth rupture. The connection between the baffle plate and the bellows extends the service life of the heat exchanger.


How the Nitrogen affect 316LN stainless steel?

316LN is the Nitrogen addition version based on 316L steel (0.06% ~ 0.08%), so that it has the same characteristics as 316L,  has been used in the manufacture of high-temperature structural components in fast breeder reactor (FBRS). Reducing the carbon content greatly reduces the susceptibility to stress corrosion cracking due to welding in subsequent corrosive environments. The creep, low cycle fatigue and creep-fatigue interaction are the most important considerations for FBRS components. The high-temperature strength of 316L stainless steel can be improved to 316 stainless steel by alloying 0.06% ~ 0.08% N. The influence of nitrogen content higher than 0.08% on mechanical properties of 316L stainless steel at high temperature will be discussed in this paper.


Chemical composition of 316LN stainless steel

Furnace N C Mn Cr Mo Ni Si S P Fe
Standards 0.06-0.22 0.02-0.03 1.6-2.0 17-18 2.3-2.5 12.0-12.5 ≤0.5 ≤0.01 ≤0.03
1 0.07 0.027 1,7 17.53 2.49 12.2 0.22 0.0055 0.013
2 0.11 0.033 1.78 17.63 2.51 12.27 0.21 0.0055 0.015
3 0.14 0.025 1.74 17.57 2.53 12.15 0.20 0.0041 0.017
4 0.22 0.028 1.70 17.57 2.54 12.36 0.20 0.0055 0.018

Thses four batches of 316LN stainless steel with a nitrogen content of 0.07%, 0.11%, 0.14% and 0.22%, and carbon content of 0.03%, were tested to study the effects of nitrogen on tensile, creep, low-cycle fatigue and creep-fatigue properties of 316LN stainless steel. The aim of this experiment is to find the optimum nitrogen content to obtain the best combination of tensile, creep and low cycle fatigue properties. The experimental results show that nitrogen can improve the tensile strength, creep and fatigue strength of austenitic stainless steels. The reasons for the increase in strength include solution enhancement, reduced stacking fault energy (SFE), precipitation hardening, formation of composites (interstitial solutes), atomic segregation, and ordered hardening. Due to their different electron exchange properties, the dissolved nitrogen in austenitic stainless steel has a larger expansion volume than carbon.

In addition to the elastic interaction between nitrogen and dislocation, the electrostatic interstitial dislocation interaction also influences the strength. Dislocation nuclei are characterized by the lack of free electrons, which means they have a positive charge. The nitrogen atoms in austenitic stainless steels are negatively charged due to the position of free electrons near the nitrogen atoms and the electrostatic interaction between the dislocations and the nitrogen atoms.

The effective binding energy between the nitrogen atom and the dislocation increases with the increase of the nitrogen content in Austenitic steel, but the correlation is not obvious for carbon. In Austenitic steels, interstitial nitrogen interacts with substituent elements and tends to form interstitial substituent atomic compositions. The compound binds easily to elements to the left of Fe in the periodic table, such as Mn, Cr, Ti and V. There is a strong correlation between the properties of interatomic bonding (that is, orientation versus unorientation) and the proximity of adjacent atoms in a multicomponent alloy system. Bonding between metal atoms facilitates short-range ordering, which is the bonding of atoms of different elements. Interatomic polarization facilitates the exchange of covalent electrons, the bonding between atoms of the same element. Carbon promotes the aggregation of substitution atoms in the iron-based solid solution, while nitrogen facilitates short-range ordering.

In general, the yield strength(YS) and ultimate tensile strength(UTS) of 316L stainless steel are significantly improved by the alloying of 0.07% ~ 0.22% nitrogen. The increase in strength was observed in all tests in the temperature range of 300 ~ 1123K. Dynamic strain aging was observed within a limited temperature range. The temperature range of dynamic strain aging (DSA) decreases with the increase of nitrogen content.