Different overlap configurations of discontinuous helical baffles affect the flow pattern of the shell-side fluid directly, and thus there is a significant impact on the flow and heat transfer characteristics of the shell-side fluid. In the present paper, experiments were carried out to study the impact of baffle overlap proportion on the shell-side flow and heat transfer performance of the shell-and-tube heat exchanger with helical baffles (STHEHB). Two different shell-side friction factors, the friction factor per helical pitch (fs,1B) and the friction factor per tube length (fs,1m), were defined based on different reference lengths. The results showed that, since the baffle overlap proportion leads to different helical pitch as well as flow fields in shell side, opposite conclusions are obtained by choosing different reference length. Based on the same Reynolds number, the shell-side Nusselt number of the STHEHB with 10% baffle overlap is higher than that with 50% baffle overlap. The reason is that the larger baffle overlap proportion produces more serious leak flows and weakens the heat transfer in shell side. The comparison of heat transfer coefficient per unit pressure drop versus shell-side flow rate showed that the STHEHB with smaller baffle overlap proportion has better comprehensive heat transfer performance, but the difference between the two decreases gradually with the increase of the flow rate.

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