Application in Marine Industry

The two primary types of marine heat exchangers used aboard vessels in the maritime industry are: plate, and shell and tube.

Plate Type

Plate-type marine heat exchangers are designed with sets of multiple parallel plates that are compressed to form the main cooler unit. This type has a small foot print in comparison to other types of heat exchangers. The plates are designed in such a way that when placed next to each other they create passageways to the fluid to flow between the plates. Gaskets are placed around the edge of each plate in order to prevent the mixing of the two fluids. Due to the temperature and pressure constraints of the rubber used to make the gaskets plate type heat exchangers are used for low pressure, low temperature applications, under 290 psig and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Shell and Tube

Shell and tube heat exchangers consist of a tube bundle which is placed inside the larger shell. Due to this design these exchanger require twice the footprint of the heat exchanger in order to perform maintenance. Depending on the amount of cooling needed, shell and tube heat exchangers can be built in single or double pass configuration. The number of pass refers to the number of times the fluid in the shell passes by the fluid in the tubes. This is achieved by placing baffles in the shell that allow for the fluid to be directed.


Heat exchangers on board vessels are used throughout many system. Systems that use heat exchangers include lube oil, jacket water, steam systems and main sea water. The systems are often interconnected by heat exhchangers in order to remove heat generated from running equipment from the engine room.

Lube Oil

Heat generated due to friction is carried away from an engine in the lube oil. Lube oil pass through a heat exchanger where the heat is passed to a central engine room cooling loop before the heat is rejected to the ocean.

Jacket Water

Heat generated an engine's cylinders is transferred to a jacket water cooling system through the cylinder wall. In addition to cooling the cylinder walls, jacket water is often found as an insulator between the exhaust header and the engine room. Jacket water cooling systems can be cooled by a central cooling water loop or can be cooled directly by seawater.


Unlike most systems with heat exchangers, steam is used to heat other systems. This is most common when a ship is left pierside for an extended period of time. Te steam system will be used to prevent condensation and rusting of vital engine room components. These heat exchangers are most often shell and tube heat exchangers due to the high temperature and pressures often utilized in steam systems.

Sea Water

Sea water cooling is often the last stage of cooling on board a ship. These coolers are oftentimes the largest on board a vessel in order to ensure maximum heat transfer to the sea water. The sea water is then discharged overboard after passing through the coolers.