What is the difference between a heat exchanger and a heat sink?

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In industrial applications, a heat sink typically refers to a miniature cooling device used to cool electronic chips. On the other hand, a heat exchanger is a device designed to transfer heat from a hot fluid to a cold fluid, meeting specific process requirements.

In terms of definition, a heat sink can refer to a heat-dissipating object, such as a metal block with fins, or it can also be a term used to describe any process of heat absorption or dissipation. A heat exchanger, on the other hand, is any device that allows heat exchange between two media.

For example, in industrial tube-and-shell heat exchangers, let's assume that the hot fluid is inside the tubes, and cooling water is circulating in the shell. Technically speaking, the cooling water, which receives the heat, can be referred to as a heat sink.