HRS Heat Exchangers: Experts in difficult heat transfer applications

HRS Heat Exchangers are global pioneers of thermal technology, offering unique and innovative heat transfer solutions since 1981. Their expertise supports energy efficiency in the environmental, food and beverage, and numerous other sectors. Heat Exchanger World had the pleasure of speaking with Mr Arnold Kleijn, European Sales Director, and Mr Matt Hale, Global Key Account Director, at HRS Heat Exchangers, about their cutting-edge scraped surface heat exchanger range and focus on the renewables market.

By Iryna Mukha, Heat Exchanger World

Company origins

Complete processing plant – HRS produce more than just heat exchangers.
Complete processing plant – HRS produce more than just heat exchangers.

Founded in 1981, the HRS Group develops several categories of heat exchangers and other supporting heat transfer products that are used in energy industries, food manufacturing, chemical and automotive sectors, and more. While all manufacturing is carried out in Spain and India, the company’s extensive global presence is supported by technical design and sales offices in the UK, Canada, USA, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand. After firmly establishing themselves as a reliable heat exchanger supplier, in 2021 HRS was bought by Exchanger Industries Limited, a Canadian market leader in heat transfer technology serving mainly the oil and gas sector.

HRS Heat Exchangers remains largely focused on the food and beverage sector: “The origins of the company in Spain, where we started manufacturing, are really in the food industry,” begins Arnold Kleijn, “and that’s largely due to our location in the southeast of Spain. We’re surrounded by fruits, vegetables, and food processing companies. It was the logical place for us to start.”

However, in 2008, amid the financial crisis, the food industry experienced a downturn, so HRS had to adjust to the changing market demands. Since one of the company’s strengths was in providing solutions for high viscosity materials and fouling, they rediscovered their purpose in the environmental industry.

“We are a shell and tube heat exchanger manufacturer, but our focus areas are always the high viscosities and difficult to handle fluids – the things that some people don’t like dealing with are what we tend to deal with quite a lot,” says Matt Hale. Today, owing to the company’s innovative scraped surface heat exchangers, the food and environmental sectors make up approximately 80% of the company’s turnover.

Birth of the Unicus series

When HRS started working with the food industry in the 1990s, they received a lot of enquiries from clients who dealt with high-viscosity materials. As Arnold notes: “If the product is highly viscous, then the normal shell and tube heat exchangers won’t do the job.”

Although other companies make scraped heat exchangers, they were very limited in the heat transfer area. In order to fill this gap in the market, HRS started the development of the Unicus series of scraped heat exchangers.

“Traditionally, the scraped surface heat exchanger is built with only one tube on the inside, which makes it very limited in surface area. However, we found a way to make a multitube system. So instead of 1 or 2 square meters per heat exchange of heat transfer area, we were able to increase this to 5, 10, or 15 square meters,” says Arnold. “Over time, heat exchangers became bigger,” continues Arnold. “Instead of 7, 12, or 15 tubes inside, we can now manufacture them with 80 tubes. There are not many companies in the world that can deliver such large amounts of heat transfer area, which really opens a niche market for us.” The Unicus series works in a back-and-forth way, ensuring hygienic applications while keeping heat transfer high and reducing downtime. The scrapers inside of the heat exchanger work gently to protect the food integrity. “With the Unicus series heat exchanger, whatever product comes in at one end comes out the other end looking the same without being damaged in any way,” points out Matt.

HRS DTI - Double Tube Corrugated Heat Exchangers used in environmental applications.
HRS DTI - Double Tube Corrugated Heat Exchangers used in environmental applications.
Arnold Kleijn, European Sales Director, HRS Heat Exchangers.
Arnold Kleijn, European Sales Director, HRS Heat Exchangers.

Rotary scraped heat exchanger

The Unicus series of scraped heat exchangers was the origin of the company, but they didn’t stop there. As HRS gained more experience within the food industry and became experts in their customers’ unique requirements, the company realised the need for a rotary scraped surface heat exchanger. They developed the R series based on a classic industry standard tube in tube heat exchanger, which introduced a rotary scraping rod. In addition, to ensure a high transfer area, HRS R Series is available as a multitube. To support the multitube design of their scraped heat exchangers, HRS engineered a unique gearbox system, which transfers the energy of a single electrical motor to the scraper rods in each individual tube.

Reaching up to 300 rpm in velocity, the R series dramatically increases the heat transfer area compared to the Unicus series, making it a perfect solution for especially viscous products. Another big advantage of applying HRS scraped heat exchangers is thermal treatment time.

“When you have especially difficult products, you need to heat them to the pasteurisation temperature then cool them as quickly as possible. The shorter this period, the better the quality of the food. As a result, you get a higher value-added product,” says Arnold.

Adapting to trends

Matt Hale, Global Key Account Director, HRS Heat Exchangers
Matt Hale, Global Key Account Director, HRS Heat Exchangers

“Energy efficiency is a key focus for us,” begins Matt. “You can heat or cool viscous products more effectively with the scraped surface, which saves energy. We’re driven by the environment, energy saving, and energy recovery. We’ve become experts in these fields and are ready to face the challenge.”

HRS Heat Exchangers enforce their 40 years of experience in thermal management by providing evaporation systems as an integral part of their services. With a wide range of heat exchangers tuned for evaporation processes, the company is able to help to select the exact right solution based on a customer’s every demand.

And this is where Unicus and R series scraped surface heat exchangers come into play once again, as they are ideal for evaporation applications; Unicus for larger jobs, and R series for smaller ones. Along with evaporation, the R series can also be effectively used in crystallisation processes to achieve Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).

“Sometimes, if the solid that is dissolved in the wastewater has value, the customer will want to recover that, so we combine an evaporation plant with the crystallisation plant,” explains Arnold. “We deal with wastewater from all sorts of industries: from agriculture and the processing industry to the oil and gas industry.”

Scraped surface heat exchangers have a crucial role to play in ZLD systems in reducing running costs by utilising heat from process water and other existing sources, and recapturing heat at the end of the process and reusing it to boost the energy efficiency of the overall ZLD system. In addition, HRS helps its customers deal with their wastewater locally and detect what sort of added-value product can be recovered from it.

HRS MI Series corrugated tube heat exchangers for food application.
HRS MI Series corrugated tube heat exchangers for food application.

Custom solutions

Building a loyal and satisfied customer base requires a tailored approach to each problem. “Everything we do is custom-built,” begins Matt. “We have no standard one-size-fits-all system. We build everything based on a customer’s requirement, rather than offering them separate components or spares. We’re not a component seller. We’re a heat exchange solution supplier.”

HRS pride themselves on building applications that fit their customers’ needs instead of offering something that’s too big or too small for their requirements and forcing them to make it work. Given the wide ranging number of tubes they can fit in one heat exchanger, every client is guaranteed to receive a customised solution specifically based on the materials they deal with. To handle salts and corrosion that accumulate from highly viscous materials, the company applies higher alloys in these applications, including duplex, super duplex, titanium, and more.

3 HRS R1’s installed in an HRS aseptic block food pasteuriser sterilisation system.
3 HRS R1’s installed in an HRS aseptic block food pasteuriser sterilisation system.
HRS’s Innovative R3 multitube scraped surface heat exchangers.
HRS’s Innovative R3 multitube scraped surface heat exchangers.

Trial and error

One of the prominent services provided by HRS Heat Exchangers, which underscores their commitment towards quality and customer satisfaction, is trials. When dealing with highly viscous and fouling materials, it’s often difficult to suggest a solution that would serve best in any given case. In these instances, HRS offers trials where a customer provides roughly five litres of their product, which then gets run through a lab-scale evaporator. Based on the received data, HRS determines whether they can offer a solution. More scaled up solutions are also available if necessary.

“When it comes to the food sector, we have a technological centre at our disposal in Spain that serves the canning industry. It houses a fully operational food-grade pasteurisation installation where we can take our customers’ products, run them through the plant, and fill them in an aseptic bag, so that the customer can check for bacteria growth, fermentation, etc. At the same time, we find out if we can pasteurise any of their products in a suitable way. Such tests help us offer solutions where a product is brand new and requires investigation,” explains Arnold.

On top of lab trials, HRS offers trial units of the Unicus and R series scraped surface heat exchangers that are available globally to send to their clients. This is done to reassure the customer that the machines work properly for their particular application before they scale up and place an order. The company reports a high success rate with this approach. “I can literally say every time we’ve sent a trial unit, we’ve received the order from it,” says Matt.

HRS also makes evaporation trials available, thus covering the entire scale of the services they offer to guarantee that when it comes to catering to their clients, no stone is left unturned. “We have pilot units in Europe, the US, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Wherever we are in the world, we offer trials for the customer,” says Arnold.

Forward thinking

“Energy moves us” is the HRS Heat Exchangers motto, and the company embodies this in their belief that when applications become difficult, you need people with the right tools and a wealth of application knowledge acquired over years of providing solutions for even the most complex cases. Yet regardless of the industry they operate in or any specific service they may offer, heat exchangers remain their unwavering focus.

“Our business is split 50-50: selling heat exchangers and offering turnkey systems. But with every system we build, there’s a heat exchanger at the heart of it,” explains Matt.

With their focus towards environmental and renewable energy applications combined with considerable success in these areas, HRS Group are looking at pivotal years ahead.

“It’s busy times for us and we have good orders, so we can’t complain. Numbers are increasing year-on-year,” says Arnold. “The objective for the business is to double our turnover in the next five years. And the way we’re headed, environmental applications will play a crucial role in that,” concludes Matt.

Steam to water K series installed in an HRS CIP system.
Steam to water K series installed in an HRS CIP system.

About this Featured Story

This Featured Story was first published in Heat Exchanger World Magazine in April 2024. To read more Featured Stories and many other articles, subscribe to our print magazine.

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