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Chemical Cleaning Of Heat Exchangers Through Newer Technology

By Author: Jack Genova
Total Articles: 23

The maintenance of the Waste Heat Recovery Unit of a platform as well as other shell and tube heat exchangers could turn out to be quite a dangerous process. There is the need to disconnect the heat exchangers and taken offline, and then taken to the shore for repair. There are good chances of shell and tube heat exchangers to be fouled with carbon deposits. The old methods of clearing the blockage include cutting off the bends after bypassing the fouled unit and cleaning the tubes, then welding again the U-bends before finishing the unit replacement.

The rapid development in technology has made the old methods outmoded and bypassing the unit is becoming inefficient. This leads to increasing the operational costs. Cutting the U-bends and re-welding is both costly and time consuming. It sometimes also becomes difficult to get access and re-connect them.

The new methods like Chemical Cleaning of Heat Exchangers that are used include the possibility of cleaning areas that provide limited access, and clearing deposits without removing the U-bends. As the unit does not need to be taken offline, the time taken is usually less and that leads to a higher defouling. It is possible to restore many units to almost its original efficiency. The cost to bear for big refineries, power plants or petro-chemical plants is to the tune of six figure savings.

Some of the deposits are also retained in the U-bends, which chokes the system. If it is complete replacement, then it is the equipment that needs to be completely replaced which is still working. The method needs taking the unit offline during the time of replacing it, and the cost involved is quite high with serious production loss.

The newer cleaning equipment and techniques are quite advanced technologically and needs laborer with better skill than the traditional pressure jetting. Newer heat exchanger cleaning equipment and techniques are more technologically advanced, and by extension, require higher skilled laborers than old style pressure jetting. The possibilities could include cleaning tight radius bends, and units cleaning either in place or online. The result has been a faster and better cleaning. Now it is possible to clean tube bundles more effectively compared to pressure jetting, and for jobs that once used to take days could now be finished in few hours. It is now possible to reach difficult-to-access units with these new technologies.

Among the technologies that are developed and used include chemical cleaning of heat exchangers, laser cleaning, special nozzles for use on tight bends, and new “smart” metals that prevent damages done to the tube by its response to changes in pressure and density. The end result is less downtime, because it becomes easier to do cleaning and descaling. There are less chances of the equipment getting damaged.


Thomson Industrial Services, with its decades of professional experience, provide chemical cleaning heat exchangers and other industrial chemical cleaning and maintenance services.

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