SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences, Volume 59 , Issue 10 : 1517-1523(2016) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11431-016-0160-0

An area method for visualizing heat-transfer imperfection of a heat exchanger network in terms of temperature–heat-flow-rate diagrams

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  • ReceivedMar 2, 2016
  • AcceptedAug 8, 2016
  • PublishedSep 12, 2016


The identification of the imperfection originating from finite-temperature-difference heat transfer is an indispensable step for both the performance analysis and the better design of a heat exchanger network (HEN) with the aim of energy saving. This study develops a convenient area method for visualizing the heat-transfer imperfection of a HEN in terms of temperature–heat flow diagrams ( T-Q˙ diagrams) by combining the composite curves that have already been used in pinch analysis and the recently developed entransy analysis. It is shown that the area between the hot and cold composite curves and the hot and cold utility lines on a T -Q˙ diagram is just equal to the total entransy dissipation rate during the multi-stream heat transfer process occurred in a HEN, and this area can be used to graphically represent the total heat-transfer imperfection of the HEN. The increase in heat recovery or decrease in energy requirements with decreasing the minimum temperature difference, ΔTmin, of a HEN can then be attributed to a lower entransy dissipation rate, quantitatively represented by the decrease of the area between the composite curves and the utility lines. In addition, the differences between the T- Q˙ diagram and the pre-existing energy level–enthalpy flow diagram (Ω-H diagram) in the roles of visualizing process imperfection and designing HENs are discussed.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51206079, 51356001).


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