With the advancement in energy technology, there is a growing need to improve the energy efficiency of engineering systems while optimizing and maximizing performance. The main way you can boost the efficiency of your heat exchanger is by regularly maintaining and inspecting your systems to ensure they are working smoothly. Unfortunately, heat exchanger efficiency issues are left unaddressed in many cases as they are deemed “minor” and go unchecked.
Over time, this can result in a larger issue where they can cause irreversible damages to the equipment, lead to a loss of production due to unexpected shutdowns, and expensive emergency repair costs. Therefore, you should take preventative steps such as performing regular maintenance to reduce these occurrences. Here are five practices you should adopt to boost your heat exchanger efficiency.
Heat Exchanger Maintenance Plan
The most straightforward way of increasing the efficiency of your heat exchangers is by regularly maintaining your systems to prevent the accumulation of fouling deposits and blockages of channel passages in tubing and piping. Therefore, periodic maintenance such as cleaning-in-place (CIP) is an effective and productive way of flushing and removing debris and deposits that contribute to a decline in the heat exchange efficacy.
CIP provides both mechanical and chemical cleaning by using alkaline and acidic cleaning agents to dissolve and dislodge fouling deposits. Subsequently, water is used to agitate and rinse through both sides of the PHE until the discharge water is clear. During this process, it is important to understand which cleaning agents are incompatible or compatible with the components of your heat exchangers to prevent any corrosion and damage.
Online vs. Offline Cleaning
One efficient way to increase your heat exchanger efficiency without having to shut down and disable operations is through online cleaning, including the recirculating rubber ball cleaning system and automatic brush tube cleaning system. This is usually used in conjunction with a chemical treatment to effectively clean and increase the performance of the heat exchanger.
Offline cleaning is also another viable way. One of the methods is known as pigging, where it utilizes bullet-like equipment inserted and passed through the tube using high pressure. Some other common methods include hydro-blasting and chemical cleaning as well. This is ideal for reducing operational expenses and effectively boosts heat exchanger efficiency.
When the heat exchanger system doesn’t prohibit CIP, online, or offline cleaning, manual cleaning can improve its efficiency. However, this will require you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and manually clean the plates in the system. Therefore, it is critical to ensure sufficient space to allow maneuvering of cleaning tools and brushes when installing the heat exchanger. A cleaning agent will be used to dissolve the deposits, and we recommend using pressurized water and a brush with soft bristles to remove them gently.
Reducing Fouling Deposits
Fouling deposits are the main culprit for reducing the efficiency of your heat exchanger systems. This is usually affected by the fluid velocity that is being used to pass through the heat exchanger. A slower flow velocity tends to cause fouling deposited to accumulate on the surface of the pipes and, over time, restrict the cross-sectional channel that permits the flow of the fluid. Therefore, we’d recommend increasing our operating fluid’s flow velocity to introduce turbulence that will work to prevent fouling from occurring.
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