A heat exchanger is a device that is used to transfer thermal energy (enthalpy) between two or more fluids, between a solid surface and a fluid, or between solid particulates and a fluid, at different temperatures and in thermal contact. In heat exchangers, there are usually no external heat and work interactions.
Typical applications involve heating or cooling of a fluid stream of concern and evaporation or condensation of single- or multicomponent fluid streams. In other applications, the objective may be to recover or reject heat, or sterilize, pasteurize, fractionate, distill, concentrate, crystallize, or controla process fluid. In a few heat exchangers, the fluids exchanging heat are in direct contact. In most heat exchangers, heat transfer between fluids takes place through a separating wall or into and out of a wall in a transient manner. In many heat exchangers, the fluids are separated by a heat transfer surface, and ideally they do not mix or leak.