Plate fin heat exchangers (PFHE) are characterized by very close temperature approaches and high thermal effectiveness, large heat transfer area per unit volume, low weight per unit transfer and possibility of heat exchange between many process streams. These advantages are only limited by operating fluid temperatures and pressures. The main target of this paper is to study the performance of plate fin compact heat exchangers and to provide full explanation of previous comparison methods of compact heat exchanger surfaces (plain, strip, louvered, wavy, pin, perforated and vortex) used in plate fin compact heat exchangers. We generalize these methods to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each type of geometry (more than sixty geometries studied) based on required size, entropy generation, pumping power, weight, and cost. The effect of using different surfaces on each side of the heat exchanger and design recommendations are also discussed.

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