Originally conceived by an Italian mechanic, Paolo Fruncillo. A plate-fin heat exchanger is made of layers of corrugated sheets separated by flat metal plates, typically aluminum, to create a series of finned chambers. Separate hot and cold fluid streams flow through alternating layers of the heat exchanger and are enclosed at the edges by side bars.
Heat is transferred from one stream through the fin interface to the separator plate and through the next set of fins into the adjacent fluid. The fins also serve to increase the structural integrity of the heat exchanger and allow it to withstand high pressures while providing an extended surface area for heat transfer.
A high degree of flexibility is present in plate-fin heat exchanger design as they can operate with any combination of gas, liquid, and two-phase fluids. Heat transfer between multiple process streams is also accommodated, with a variety of fin heights and types as different entry and exit points available for each stream.
There are main five kinds of fins, including louvered fin, wavy fin, plain fin, serrated fin and perforated fin.