Cleaning and Inspection Challenges No.4

Author: Mike Watson, Managing Director, Tube Tech

Following a recent survey of refinery operators from across the world Tube Tech have compiled the Top 10 cleaning and inspection challenges faced by the refining industry.

As a world leading specialist industrial cleaning contractor Tube Tech have solved some of the refining and petrochemical sectors most difficult cleaning challenges. Tube Tech asked over 2500 refinery operators to complete their survey and the Top 10 cleaning and inspection challenges were developed as result of the survey feedback.

Below is the 4th most common cleaning and inspection challenge faced by the refining sector.

No 4       TWISTED TUBE Heat Exchangers by Koch Heat Transfer

TWISTED TUBE Heat Exchanger  by Koch Heat Transfer Company provide a higher heat transfer coefficient than many other types of tubular heat exchangers as a complex swirl flow on the external shell side induces the maximum turbulence to improve heat transfer. Tube side turbulence is achieved at both high and low velocities and the uniform flow distribution provides a more effective length and surface area.

Increasing in popularity Twisted Tube Heat Exchangers can create challenges for traditional cleaning contractors. Both shell and tube side fouling on Twisted Tube Heat Exchangers are often seen as difficult to remove using either traditional high pressure water jetting or chemicals.

When the uniformly twisted tube bore and small shell side ‘cleaning lanes’ become blocked with harder than expected deposits the exchanger becomes a challenge to clean using traditional high pressure water jetting gun and lance technologies. The good news is that Tube Tech have developed cleaning technologies to overcome this problem.


  • To remove medium and heavy Internal and External Shell Side blockages from the narrow twisted tube bore and the 3 to 6mm “cleaning lanes”
  • To physically negotiate each and every internal tube bore and external cleaning lane in order to achieve as new performance
  • To clean both Tube and Shell Side simultaneously to minimise downtime
  • To visually inspect and record fouling levels before and after cleaning
  • Eddy Current and / or IRIS Inspect the internally twisted tube bore



  • A remote tube and shell side cleaning technology that provides 360 degree surface contact thereby removing all scale and blockages from deep within the tube bundle.
  • Micro Bore ShellJeTT removes deposits from the entire shell side spaces by penetrating deep into the centre of the exchangers.
  • The internally twisted tube bore is cleaned using a technology that expands during cleaning, to the given diameter and tube twist configuration.
  • Remote control technology that avoids hydraulic recoil using bespoke cleaning heads for tube and shell side



Tube Tech clients having benefitted from the companies Twisted Tube Heat Exchanger cleaning service are so impressed not only by speed but the return on investment. Whilst slightly higher initial investment, the overall production benefits far outweigh the higher cleaning costs. A client recently stated; “We were really impressed with Tube Tech’s performance and how clean the bundles are – the cleanest we have seen them since their 2008 installation. All our investment costs were recovered within 4 months”.