Heat Transfer Coefficients in Heat Exchangers

Overall heat transfer coefficients in some common heat exchanger constructions - tubular, plate and spiral

The table below can be used as an indication of overall heat transfer coefficients in some common heat exchanger constructions and applications:

Type Application Overall Heat Transfer Coefficient
- U -
W/(m2 K) Btu/(ft2 oF h)
Tubular, heating or cooling Gases at atmospheric pressure inside and outside tubes 5 - 35 1 - 6
Gases at high pressure inside and outside tubes 150 - 500 25 - 90
Liquid outside (inside) and gas at atmospheric pressure inside (outside) tubes 15 - 70 3 - 15
Gas at high pressure inside and liquid outside tubes 200 - 400 35 - 70
Liquids inside and outside tubes 150 - 1200 25 - 200
Steam outside and liquid inside tubes 300 - 1200 50 - 200
Tubular, condensation Steam outside and cooling water inside tubes 1500 - 4000 250 - 700
Organic vapors or ammonia outside and cooling water inside tubes 300 - 1200 50 - 200
Tubular, evaporation steam outside and high-viscous liquid inside tubes, natural circulation 300 - 900 50 - 150
steam outside and low-viscous liquid inside tubes, natural circulation 600 - 1700 100 - 300
steam outside and liquid inside tubes, forced circulation 900 - 3000 150 - 500
Air-cooled heat exchangers Cooling of water 600 - 750 100 - 130
Cooling of liquid light hydrocarbons 400 - 550 70 - 95
Cooling of tar 30 - 60 5 - 10
Cooling of air or flue gas 60 - 180 10 - 30
Cooling of hydrocarbon gas 200 - 450 35 - 80
Condensation of low pressure steam 700 - 850 125 - 150
Condensation of organic vapors 350 - 500 65 - 90
Plate heat exchanger liquid to liquid 1000 - 4000 150 - 700
Spiral heat exchanger liquid to liquid 700 - 2500 125 - 500
condensing vapor to liquid 900 - 3500 150 - 700

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