Heat Exchanger Rescue: A Case Study





  • FAILED INSPECTION ON SHELL & TUBE HEAT EXCHANGER

  • CRITICAL HEAT EXCHANGER REMOVED FROM SERVICE

  • UHP CONTRACTED IN TO CLEAN TUBES BUT FAILED

  • CLEANBLAST CAME IN TO SOLVE PROBLEM

  • 30-40 SECONDS VAPOR BLASTING / TUBE @ 80 PSI

  • FLAWLESS AND EVEN CLEAN OF FULL DIAMETER OF TUBE

A Texas chemical plant hired a local Inspection company to test the tube integrity on a shell & tube heat exchanger critical to their manufacturing process. The tubes in the heat exchanger were fouled to the point where inspectors were unable to fit their instruments in the tubes to take readings. As a result, the plant made the decision to remove the exchanger from service until it could be effectively cleaned and accurate testing could be performed. UHP waterblast equipment was brought in to clean the tubes, but failed to clean the tube walls acceptably. Rotating brushes were used, along with garnet injection to attempt to mitigate the problem. These attempts failed. The heat exchanger was eventually removed to the contractor yard to assess the situation and try to come up with a remedy.


CleanerBlast equipment was brought in to see if it could solve the problem. Simple vapor blasting at 30-40 seconds per tube (80 PSI) cleaned the tubes flawlessly, evenly, and equally across the entire diameter of the tubes. Concerns of possible abrasive erosion caused by vapor blasting were eliminated.


//Extra: Similar testing was performed on a U-tube bundle to test effectiveness of cleaning the inside diameter of the tube bend. It was realized that the entire wall of the tube came equally clean both inside and outside of the tube bend.


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