Tantalum heat exchangers
Tantalum heat exchangers can withstand extremely high temperatures and have corrosion-resistant properties. We often find them in chemical plants, for example.
At Sterling TT we design bespoke industrial heat exchangers using various construction materials, including tantalum. Contact us today to discover how we can help you. You might also be interested in our blog: ‘considerations for bespoke heat exchangers’.
Tantalum, previously known as tantalium, is a relatively rare element valued for its chemical inertness. As it’s extremely unreactive, it’s highly resistant to corrosion. It has good thermal conductivity and is erosion resistant, which is ideal for chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical applications.
It’s used in a wide range of technologies, such as tantalum capacitors in electronic equipment, but it is also very useful for heat exchangers in specific applications.
Thanks to its corrosion resistance and very high melting point, it is commonly used in processes involving acids. This makes it a viable choice for chemical plants, for example. We can also find it in other applications that use acidic materials, such as in certain manufacturing processes.
Benefits of tantalum
We’ve already mentioned that tantalum is highly corrosive resistant, but there are other benefits to using tantalum in the right applications:
- No downtime (in most applications) – thanks to the corrosion resistance, there should be little to no fouling, and therefore no downtime needed for maintenance and cleaning
- Doesn’t need you to store spare parts thanks to its long lifespan
- High heat transfer rate*
- Eliminate cross-contamination of process fluids*
* When paired with other best configurations for your application
Tantalum heat exchanger applications
We design tantalum heat exchangers for a range of specific applications. Because all our heat exchangers are designed bespoke to your requirements, we can adapt most of our heat exchanger products to be manufactured from tantalum (as appropriate). For example, it can be incorporated into most TEMA-type shell and tube heat exchanger designs.
The most common application for tantalum heat exchangers is in chemical industries. It can be used for handling very acidic substances and chemicals. For example, vaporising or condensing strong acids.
Some examples of materials tantalum heat exchangers can handle are:
- Acid concentrations
- Hydrochloric acid
- Nitric acid
- Phosphoric acid
- Strong organic acids
- Sulfuric acid
If you’re looking for a heat exchanger for your chemical process, get in touch with Sterling TT to discuss your requirements.
For example, tantalum heat exchangers can be found in steel pickling plants. Pickling baths commonly use 20% hydrochloric acid at about 93°C (200°F). It would corrode other metals over the lifespan of the heat exchanger. Tantalum, on the other hand, is completely corrosion resistant at temperatures below 150°C.
Alternatives to tantalum heat exchangers
Because tantalum is a relatively rare material, it can be expensive. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution, there may be other appropriate materials. It will depend on the specific application of your heat exchanger as to which might work best so you should get in touch with one of our experts.
Hastelloy heat exchangers are often used in chemical plants as they’re corrosion resistant and have good temperature resistance. In addition, nickel-based materials are known for their strength while operating in extremely corrosive surroundings and at high temperatures.
Titanium is a good metal for corrosion resistance and is a relatively common element, therefore more cost-effective than some. It has a high strength-to-weight ratio, so it is a good choice where weight is a concern.
Zirconium is a corrosive-resistant metal that’s also very strong. It can be used in some of the most acidic environments. This material protects the equipment by reducing maintenance costs and downtime.
For more information, read our blog on heat exchanger materials.
If you’re unsure which material would suit your heat exchanger, get in touch with Sterling TT to discuss your requirements by filling the below form.