Nearly every industrial process requires the heating and/or cooling of fluids, so heat exchangers are one of the most common pieces of process equipment encountered on industrial sites. Regardless of the heat exchanger design, or the industry in which they are being employed, eventually all these units will foul. As fouling builds up on the interior walls of a heat exchanger’s tubes, it forms an insulating barrier that interferes with heat transfer. If left unchecked, this can lead to reduced efficiency and even complete failure and shutdown of the equipment.
Proper and routine maintenance is necessary to ensure your heat exchanger is operating at maximum efficiency. It can also save your company tens of thousands of dollars in downtime and repairs. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you clean your exchangers on a regular basis. Vecta Environmental would be happy to assist you with the development of a maintenance schedule.
Every contractor claims to have developed special procedures for exchanger cleaning, but these methods can generally be categorized as High-Pressure Cleaning, Chemical Cleaning, or Mechanical Cleaning. Vecta personnel has the knowledge and experience to determine the most appropriate method of cleaning to address your specific needs.
High-pressure water cleaning (hydro blasting) is the most commonly used method for heat exchanger cleaning. Using high-pressure water (10,000 – 40,000 psi), Vecta has personnel, equipment, knowledge, and expertise to assist you with:
- Cleaning of exchanger shell
- Removal rust, scale, debris or residue
- Flexible and/or rigid lancing of exchanger tubes
- Shotgun cleaning of exterior bundles
Improvements in technology have made automated “hands-free” blasting a popular option for tube cleaning. This method allows for the simultaneous cleaning of several tubes while minimizing workers’ exposure to the dangers of high-pressure water. Though not ideal for every application, Vecta is pleased to provide our customers with the option of “hands-free” cleaning whenever possible.
Safety considerations are of the utmost importance any time high-pressure water is being used. Vecta places the highest priority on employee safety and utilizes a selective hiring process, extensive training, and routine site audits to ensure a safe workplace for all our employees and clients.
Another popular method of exchanger cleaning is the circulation of chemicals through the unit to remove debris and residue. Depending on the industry, process, and nature of the deposit, Vecta will select the appropriate chemical to target and remove the fouling agent.
Some benefits of Vecta’s chemical cleaning process include:
- Cleaning may be performed without dismantling the exchanger
- Cleaning is uniform and effective since all parts of the separated are in contact with the cleaning agent
- Often less time-consuming than other cleaning methods
- Less destructive to the unit than other cleaning methods
Even considering all the benefits listed above, chemical cleaning is not always the best option for heat exchanger cleaning. Vecta will work closely with you to determine the best option for the cleaning of your process equipment.
Mechanical cleaning is the use of specialized tools (brushing, drilling or scrubbing) to remove fouling agents from heat exchanger tubes. Mechanical cleaning allows for targeted, and more precise, removal of deposits, debris and corrosion. Intimate knowledge of the nature and extent of fouling is required to determine the appropriate tool for cleaning, and Vecta works closely with our clients to determine the best tools for the job.
Some of the benefits of mechanical cleaning include:
- Targeted and more precise cleaning
- Minimizes waste generation
- Possibly allows for smaller crew size
Heat exchangers are critical components of many industrial processes, and scheduled maintenance is required to keep these systems operating at maximum efficiency. Vecta’s team of highly skilled professionals work closely with our clients to determine the best option for the cleaning of their equipment. Whether the job calls for high-pressure cleaning, chemical cleaning, or mechanical cleaning, Vecta has the people, equipment, and experience to safely and effectively meet our clients’ needs.