Shell & Tube
Heat Exchanger.

A Shell and Tube is the most common type of heat exchanger used in applications that require higher pressures and temperatures. Consisting of a tube bundle inside a shell, this basic design is heavy duty, rugged and durable. The system is simple, two fluids of different temperatures are circulated through the heat exchanger. One fluid flows through the tubes while another fluid flows over the tubes providing an optimum and efficient heat transfer.

Advantages of a Shell & Tube


Higher pressure and temperature options available


Basic, heavy duty, rugged and durable


Average life is 15-20 years; however it is
not uncommon to be in service for over 30 years


Typically less expensive than other types of
heat exchangers including a plate and frame

Main Components of a Shell & Tube 

Shell & Tube Components
Tube & Bundle Tubes
Tube & Bundle Baffles & Tie Rods
The tubes are typically copper or stainless steel with a ¾" or 5/8" outside diameter, while the remaining components are usually manufactured from milled steel.
Tie rods (circular metal rods) and spacers hold the tube bundle together while holding the baffles in the correct position. The tie rods are fastened into the tube sheet then secured at the farthest baffle. The number of tie rods, baffles and tubes depends on shell diameter and required application.

Applications (Shell & Tube)

Shell & Tube

Food & Beverage

(Breweries, Dairy, Fruit, Vegetable)
UHT Treatment
Reception Thermization
Wort Boiling

Shell & Tube


(Automotive, Mining, Pulp & Paper, Sugar)
Water Heating/Cooling
Heat Recovery
Quench Oil Cooling
Caustic Solution Heating
Shell & Tube


(Biofuels, Nuclear, Renewable Power, Oil & Gas)
Heat Recovery
Quench Coolers
Lubrication Oil Cooling
Corrosive Fluid Heating/Cooling
Crude Oil Heating
Diesel Engine Cooling
Auxiliary Cooling
Shell & Tube

Chemical & Pharmaceutical

(Fertilizers, Petrochemicals, Inorganic Chemicals)
Solvent Heating
Glycol Cooling
Reactor Cooling
Shell & Tube

Commercial HVAC

(Hospitals, Condominiums, Shopping Centers)
Domestic Water Heating
Swimming Pool Heating
Free Cooling
Cooling Tower Isolation
Heat Pump Systems
Heat Recovery
Thermal Storage Systems
Shell & Tube


(Container Vessels, Bulk Carriers, Barges)
Lube Oil Cooling
Auxiliary Power Generation System
Jacket Water Cooling
Central Cooling
Seawater Isolation Exchanger
Engine Oil Cooling
Ventilation Coolers and Heaters

Common Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger Designs

Shell & Tube - Straight Tube - 2 Pass
Shell & Tube - Straight Tube - One pass
Shell & Tube - U-Tube

Potential Issues with a Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger

  1. When vacuum breakers or thermostatic vents are not installed or functional the tube can be sucked in and break.
  2. If the bundle is subjected to temperature extremes (thermal shock), the tubes will develop spiral cracks.
  3. On steam applications, harmonics can occur. This constant vibration can cause the steel
  4. baffles to eventually cut into the copper tubes.
  5. Chemical corrosion resulting from interaction between the heat exchanger and the circulated fluids.
  6. Marine film or coating on tubes such as scale, mud, algae and zebra mussels plugging tubes, this results in higher corrosion and restricts heat flow.
Shell & Tube Issues

1550 Bayly Street, Unit 15
Pickering, ON L1W 3W1

T 905 831-4963
F 905 831-0042


76 Harlowe Road, Unit 5, 6 & 7
Hamilton, ON L8W 3R6

T 905 318-0777
F 905-318-8422

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.