I'm designing a shell and tube heat exchanger with a hydrocarbon stream (31.6% propane and 60.4% propylene) entering at 135F and 321psi, and leaving at 100F being cooled by water at 85F and 74.7 psi. As of now I have the hydrocarbon stream on tube side and water stream on shell side, mainly due to the high pressure of the hydrocarbons and it being at a higher temperature. Is this a decent enough basis for my decision? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you!


1 Answer 1


This is a good start for your decision and you can probably get away with it however you should factor in everything that influences that decision.

  • Cleaning
  • Corrosion
  • Fouling
  • Temperature
  • Viscosity
  • Pressure
  • Pressure Drop

Higher Temperatures and a higher pressure favor allocating the fluid to the tube site.

Put a high-pressure fluid on the tube side. This usually minimizes exchanger cost. The smaller tube diameter has a higher pressure rating for the same metal thickness compared to the larger diameter shell.(1)


If the temperatures are high enough to require the use of special alloys placing the higher temperature fluid in the tubes will reduce the overall cost.

Chemical Engineering Design, 12 Heattransfer Equipment, R K Sinnott (2)

Although I wouldn't consider 135 F "hot".

And here is another article (3)

All in all I would advise you to work through the sources I provided and this should help you with your choice. Without knowing more I would probably choose the same allocation.


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