Do you need a stainless heat exchanger?

In today’s economy, when cost effectiveness and energy efficiency are key aspects of performant heat transfer systems, choosing the right equipment can truly make a difference. Factors such as design, size, corrosion resistance properties, fouling resistance, or volatility are essential for the effectiveness of heat exchanger. As vital components of most industrial applications, heat exchangers must be able to perform with minimum maintenance cost and energy usage.

In terms of design parameters, the material resistance to wear tear, the thermal conductivity of the material used, wall thickness, and corrosion maintenance are decisive factors in optimizing the heat exchange process.

Since maintenance can be costly, the need for a heat exchanger that can perform in rough environments and withstand high pressures and temperatures, as well as corrosion and deposits, has increased drastically.

Stainless steel and aluminum are two materials that are commonly used for heat exchangers. Although aluminum is a better heat conductor, the ruggedness, corrosion resistance and effectiveness of heat exchanger made of stainless steel makes it a preferable alternative.

What is heat exchanger?

In order to understand the importance of the selection of the heat exchanger’s material, it is essential to understand the basics of heat transfer processes. So what is a heat exchanger?

In a heat transfer system, two fluids at different temperatures are separated by a solid wall, while the heat is transferred from the hotter fluid to the colder one, until the reach the same temperature level. In most industrial, commercial or even domestic applications, this is carried out in a heat exchanger.

There are various types of heat exchangers, but the most common one is the car’s radiator. At Mahan’s Thermal Products, you can buy heat exchanger systems, parts, and components from world leading manufacturers.

A premier heat exchanger supplier, with more than 45 years of experience in the industry, Mahan’s Thermal Products is dedicated to providing its customers with the best heat transfer solutions.

Do you need a stainless heat exchanger?

Stainless steel is part of a large family of alloys with different properties, such as chromium, nickel, titanium or molybdenum. There are five classes of stainless steel: ferritic, austenitic, duplex, martensitic and precipitation hardening. Two of the most common used class of stainless steel is ferritic and austenitic due to their high corrosion resistance and mechanical properties.

Due to their high corrosion resistance, they don’t need cleaning and maintenance as often as other types of heat exchangers, such as aluminum heat exchanger. Furthermore, the installation costs are also significantly smaller.

The aluminum heat exchanger on the other hand has great heat transfer characteristics. Light weight and versatile, they can be cast into very complex shapes. However, is stainless steel can withstand fouling and oxidation, aluminum will corrode if the proper fluids are not used to produce and maintain a constant and narrow pH range. Furthermore, aluminum heat exchangers require the use of special inhibitors, which makes it a costly option. Stainless steel heat exchanger, on the other hand, does not require special fluids or inhibitors and work perfectly with plain water.

Other benefits of adopting stainless steel heat exchanger is a great alternative to aluminum heat exchanger include:

  • Resistance to oxidation;
  • Resistance to galling and seizing;
  • Resistance to fouling;
  • Low chances of contamination by corrosion;
  • Resistance to chemical environments;
  • Easy to clean;
  • Available in a wide range of designs;
  • Economical


The benefits of adopting stainless steel heat exchanger

Stainless steel has certain advantages compared to aluminum, in terms of effectiveness of heat exchanger.

In heat transfer applications that relay on water, corrosion can become a problem. The high acidity in water leads to corrosion and regular maintenance is paramount in order to avoid malfunctions or system failures.

Compared to a stainless steel heat exchanger, an aluminum heat exchanger is more likely to suffer damage of not maintained regularly. Over time, aluminum oxides build up and clog the system and regular maintenance is required to clean and remove the deposits.

Regular maintenance is recommended for stainless steel heat exchangers as well, but due to their ruggedness and corrosion resistance, the risks of damage is failure is significantly lower if cleaning and maintenance doesn’t occur on a regular basis.

Stainless steel can resist corrosion in a wide range of pH levels. As a result, the maintenance and care costs drop significantly. Furthermore, there is no need to treat the water regularly to keep the pH levels to an optimum.

Although the initial cost of a stainless steel heat exchanger is higher than aluminum heat exchangers, their sturdiness, reliability and corrosion resistance give them a longer lifespan. As a result, on the long run, they are a cost efficient solution.

At Mahan’s Thermal Products, you can find a large selection of heat exchangers built from a wide variety of materials, including stainless steel. Check our products and buy the heat exchanger system you need today.

Contact us and together you will find the right solution for your heat transfer need.