Advanced cleaning technology can have huge benefits to petrochemical refineries

Many refineries across the world, clean heat transfer equipment using techniques which have hardly changed in the last 80 years. These techniques, including standard water jetting and chemical cleaning, do remove some deposits from the equipment but will not remove all of them, leading to an on-going loss of performance.

Tube Tech, a research led, high-tech specialist industrial cleaning contractor, believes that operators may be unaware of much more effective, tried and tested alternative cleaning techniques that are now available to them. Tube Tech offers three examples to help explain how using advanced cleaning techniques can benefit refinery operators.

On-line ‘live’ flare line cleaning

Tube Tech has developed unique systems to clean flare lines in situ and on-line, providing clients with the opportunity to clean flare lines at their own convenience. The company has developed a bespoke seal to cope with temperatures and pressures inside flare lines, preventing oxygen and spark ingress and the escape of toxic gases. Cleaning is then carried out using high-pressure jetting lances that are both heat and scratch resistant. Tube Tech also uses intrinsically-safe video probes for visual inspection and to take digital images before and after cleaning.

Robotic fired heater cleaning (convection bank and radiant tube cleaning)

Many operators will have tried chemical cleaning, water jetting, abrasive shot blasting or dry ice to remove fouling from fired heater surfaces. Tube Tech has developed a robotic cleaning technology to access deep in between the fins of the convection tubes.

This advanced cleaning technology is safe, fast and can also remove refractory that has cemented itself between the tubes over many years. Tube Tech can also provide a tried and tested robotic radiant tube cleaning surface.

Shell and tube side cleaning of Texas tower/Vertical Combined Feed Exchangers (VCFE)

Texas Towers, also known as a CCR Platformer, reformer or vertical combined feed exchanger, (VCFE), are supposed to be one of the cleanest exchangers and are often only cleaned once every seven to ten years or more. They are cleaned so infrequently that the knowledge and experience needed to clean them is often lacking, both by operators and by many traditional cleaning contractors. Texas towers are huge structures, the cleaning of which presents significant safety issues.

Tube Tech cleans Texas Towers across the world using its Fastclean™ tube side cleaning techniques and its ShellJeTT™ shell side cleaning technology. The ShellJeTT™ is able to remove fouling from right in the centre of all types of shell and tube heat exchangers ensuring the centre of the tube bundle is completely deposit free.

Flare lines, fired heaters and Texas towers are difficult to clean yet there are cleaning techniques available to clean them faster, safer and more efficiently than when using standard cleaning techniques. Improved throughput, reduced downtime, reduced CO2 emissions and increased heat transfer are just some of the benefits refinery operators will enjoy when they choose to work with Tube Tech.