How Annular Distributors Improve Efficiency in Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

Steam bustles, or annular distributors, help distribute fluid or steam evenly over the surface of a tube bundle.


A steam bustle, or annular distributor, is an important component of a shell and tube heat exchanger when viscosity or too much direct steam heat is a concern.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and function of a steam bustle and how it can help improve the performance of your shell and tube heat exchanger.

What is a Steam Bustle?

A steam bustle, or annular distributor, is an optional component of a shell and tube heat exchanger that is used to distribute fluid or steam evenly over the surface of the tube bundle. This helps to ensure that the fluid or steam is heated or cooled evenly and efficiently.

In a shell and tube heat exchanger, the fluid being processed flows through the tubes, while a second fluid, hot or cold, flows around the outside of the tubes in the shell. The annular distributor is typically located at the inlet of the shell, and its main function is to distribute the incoming fluid or steam evenly over the surface of the tube bundle.

The use of an annular distributor helps to reduce the risk of hot spots or cold spots within the heat exchanger, as it ensures that the fluid being processed is heated or cooled evenly as it flows through the tubes. This helps to improve the efficiency of the heat exchanger and can also help to extend the lifespan of the equipment by reducing the risk of damage due to thermal stress.

How a Steam Bustle Functions

The function of a steam bustle is fairly straightforward. It consists of multiple pipes arranged in a cylindrical casing, which allows steam to pass through them in order to be heated or cooled before being discharged into another part of the system. The number and diameter of these pipes will vary depending on the specific requirements for each application as well as on how efficient you want your system to be.

When installing a steam bustle into your shell and tube heat exchanger, you need to make sure that all connections are properly sealed in order to prevent any leaks from occurring during operation.

Benefits of Using Steam Bustles

Steam bustles provide the following benefits for your shell and tube heat exchanger:

  1. Distributes heat evenly, minimizing the risk of damaging or altering sensitive products.
  2. Keeps viscous products flowing.
  3. Increases the overall heat transfer efficiency by providing more surface area for heat exchange.
  4. Reduces pressure loss within the system, since they act as baffles that help control the flow rate of steam passing through the system.
  5. Helps reduce costs associated with fuel consumption since it reduces the amount of energy required to achieve a certain temperature level.
  6. Easier to maintain than other types of baffles because they do not require any mechanical parts or frequent cleaning and maintenance activities.

Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers from Enerquip

Adding a steam bustle, or annular distributor, to your shell and tube heat exchanger can have numerous advantages when it comes to improving efficiency and reducing fuel costs associated with operating your system.

They can significantly increase the overall performance level while also helping reduce pressure losses within your system.

Want more? Contact an Enerquip thermal expert or request a quote today.

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