What Are Helical Coils, and How Do They Work?

Helical coils are commonly used in many industrial applications—but what is a helical coil? The name helical comes from the scientific term helix, which indicates a spiral configuration. This can technically refer to springs, which are often seen in forms of small helical coils, but it most often refers to tubing, which can be shaped into a helical coil for many uses.

Here are some answers to common FAQs on helical coil tubing, including, “What are helical coils used for?”

What are helical coils?

While its name may indicate that it is a spiral shape, a helical coil doesn’t have to be a spiral. In fact, it may only have a couple of turns in it or comprise a series of multiple spirals of different lengths.

Helical coils can be made of different types of metals, including steel, copper and aluminum. Different applications will require different types of metals. The size of the coil may vary, but they are generally no wider than 8 inches in diameter.

What are helical coils used for?

There are many different uses for helical coils. This may include heating and cooling liquid or gas, as well as heat exchange for industrial uses.

When an industrial process requires the heating or cooling of a large amount of gas or liquid, helical coils are one of the most commonly-used options. This is especially true if the process cannot use direct heating. Their large amount of surface area makes helical coils perfect for this use.

One application of this involves filling the coils with steam or hot water and immersing the coil in the surrounding liquid or gas. The heat transfer from the hot coil to the surrounding material raises that material’s temperature. This also works in reverse for cooling down a material, with cold water or a coolant like R-12 refrigerant filling the coil.

A similar application for helical coils is industrial heat exchange. One of the most common uses of helical coils in this instance is as a heating or cooling element in heating pumps or air conditioners, where the coils heat or cool the air that passes through the unit.

Another application is mixing and heating or cooling large batches in food-processing facilities. These coils, of course, must be food safe, so everything remains safe for human consumption. On the other end of the spectrum, helical coils are used in a similar way to heat crude petroleum in order to distill it into gas, plastics and myriad other products.

Older types of heat exchange processes are often updated to helical coil designs to improve efficiency and performance. Helical coils are also easier to repair than many older designs and require less maintenance in general.

Whether you need helical coils for heating and cooling or any other commercial application, it’s important to work with a company that has experience with many different types of coils and materials. For professional and experienced service, reach out to Metal Works Corporation today for all your helical coil needs.