Common Polymer Removal Challenges
Polymer fouling damages equipment, reduces heat transfer efficiency and leads to frequent shutdowns.
If current polymer removal techniques only remove a certain amount of the fouling then the frequency of shutdowns and the added expense from lost production increases accordingly.
A number of process related issues can lead to fouling and many cases of polymer fouling involve layers over layers of hard polymer building up over months or years. Fouling is not static, it gets worse over time and is in fact exponential in its formation. By its very nature polymer is a hard impact resistant substance which adheres to the walls of tubes, vessels and pipelines often becoming so compact that there is no passageway through which product can flow.
The hazardous and potentially hazardous nature of polymer fouling creates a number of challenges to those aiming to remove it. Some polymer hardens when exposed to the atmosphere and other polymers become even more hazardous if they make contact with water. In the main non-man entry is a prerequisite for polymer removal from vessels due to the potentially hazardous nature of the fouling and the fumes. This means that accessibility to the fouled item can be severely limited.
The removal of polymer from heat transfer equipment can also include access issues. If tubes are plugged, or if the gaps between the tubes on the shell side are blocked, the challenge then becomes creating an entry point through which direct contact with the fouling can be made.
Returning to polymer removal from vessels, another challenge on these contracts is ensuring no damage is made to the coils, blades, paddles, etc., within the tanks and vessels. By default the cleaning techniques used to remove polymer have to be forceful yet the fragile internal mechanisms of the vessels have to be taken into consideration. This challenge, combined with the requirement to often remove polymer remotely means polymer removal contractors need to be able to offer a variety of remote cleaning technologies.
We would be pleased to speak with you regarding your polymer removal challenges. The more difficult it is – the more we like it!