By utilizing the most evolved cleaning technology available, it’s possible to achieve great condenser performance and an immediate return on investment. Struggling with condenser tube fouling and corrosion is unnecessary, especially when the proper tools are readily available and accessible. It seems the struggle has to do more with how to approach the specific condition and assess the available tools. Of significance regarding cleaning is the challenge associated with selecting the proper tools and equipment to yield the best result. Cleaning the condenser can be a rewarding experience and add value to the operations, or it can be an exercise in futility if it has been performed with the wrong, or ineffective, tools and technology. Effectively cleaning these components requires a good basic knowledge of state-of-the-art condenser cleaning equipment and tube cleaners and your site-specific conditions. Here are some basic principles that can help you in this process.
Fouling occurs in the condenser as a result of particulates,
Common condenser tube deposits are categorized by type and include:
- Biofilm or microfouling organisms
- Corrosion product
- Macrofouling, debris and shellfish
While condenser tubes will foul with one predominate deposit type, in almost all cases there are aspects of each fouling type present, which is why it’s important to select a cleaning technology that addresses your site specific conditions. Cleaning technology for a biofilm when there is a crystallized deposit is useless.
A variety of tube cleaners are available for the tube cleaning maintenance market today.
Manufacturer’s such as Conco Systems Inc. have designed and developed a comprehensive line of tube cleaners to address the types of fouling identified above. Each of the tube cleaners are dramatically different in effectiveness, depending on the type of fouling or deposits present and the tube materials in place. What is unique and of importance is the ability to understand the tube cleaner’s effective range. Another distinct and important maintenance matter is the proper sizing of the tube cleaner. Tube cleaners designed to fit the tube specification at your plant are absolutely essential, adjustable tube cleaners give way to erroneous sizing and inconsistent cleaning action.
Figure 5 highlights the distinctions to look for when selecting any type of tube cleaner, whether brushes, plastic or the Conco all-purpose tube cleaner. Eleven different tube cleaners designed for dealing with deposits ranging from thin biofilms to thick calcium carbonate scale all incorporate the TruFit™ features, achieving the most effective cleaning. When used in conjunction with the ProSeries Tube Cleaning System (Figure 6) available water is elevated to 300 psi at 36 gpm, propelling these tube cleaners to travel through the tubes at 10’-20’ per second, leaving a clean tube surface behind, ideal for good heat transfer.
Titanium, stainless and copper tube materials foul differently, their surface conditions vary and so does their composition. In addition to fouling type, another important aspect to consider is the tube material since it affects effective removal of corrosion product, as well as protection from under-deposit corrosion and pitting. While titanium and superferritic stainless steels are impervious to corrosion, they have no copper content. Copper content fends off microbiological organisms, so there is biofilm attracting particulate deposits and mineral deposits. When it’s affected by temperature, scaling will occur. So while one might enjoy a longer incubation period before fouling occurs on these smooth tube surfaces, when fouling does show up, be prepared to clean aggressively. Utilizing plastic pigs or nylon brushes might be satisfactory initially, but in the long term, metal cleaners will most likely be required.