The Robotic Solution for a 90%+ Convection Section Clean

The client: Europe’s leading independent crude oil refiner, based in Scotland

The challenge: Tube Tech were contracted by a major refinery plant based in Scotland to clean convection section external tube surfaces on a BA101 crude charge heater furnace. This included removing a build-up of fouling between all tubes and fins on each bank, which had significantly reduced the efficiency of the heater.

When cleaning the finned and/or bare tubes found within a heater convection bank, methods such as dry ice, chemicals, water washing, sand blasting and soot blowers have proved over the years to have limited ability. They are unable to access between the tubes effectively and therefore can generally only reach 5-10% of the ‘clogged’ heat transfer surfaces.

The solution:

Tube Tech International’s professional team deployed their fired heater robotic cleaning technology, which is remotely operated, reaches deep between the tubes and provides 360-degree surface contact to remove around 95% of all convection section fouling. This dramatically returned convection coil heating duty and avoided the costly replacement of tube banks. The Tube Tech robot can remove fouling from between each row of tubes, overcome access problems due to tight, confined space, and remove the build-up of fouling. It means clients can instantly benefit from a return to efficient running regimes and significantly reduced running costs, which quickly recovers the cost of cleaning.

Tube Tech International’s site manager Scott Donson said, “Despite a number of site challenges, including congestion around the heater, liaising with all the other work operations and disciplines, it was probably the busiest heater Turnaround ever performed, we were still able to complete the job within the initial timescale allocated.”