Cleaning and Inspection Challenges No. 8

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 8th most common cleaning and inspection challenge faced by the refining sector.


No 8                       Dry Cleaning – Cleaning Without FLUIDS

When the word ‘cleaning’ is mentioned most think of water and chemicals. Industrial processes rely heavily on high pressure water jetting and chemicals, water suspended slurries or water to dissolve and extract deposits. Water is also the most common fluid used for cleaning heat exchangers across most industrial sectors. Some industrial applications, however, TRY TO avoid OR EVEN PROHIBIT WATER.

As water is the basis for most traditional industrial cleaning techniques, finding a ‘dry cleaning’ method can be challenging to some operators.


  • Reasons for dry cleaning include:-
  • Unwanted chemical reactions
  • Contaminated water reaching environmentally sensitive areas
  • Product cross contamination
  • Avoiding damage to surrounding structure


Examples of equipment requiring ‘dry cleaning’:

  • Refractory within furnaces, fired heaters and boilers.
  • Catalyst tubular reactors
  • Catalyst reformer tubes
  • Titanium Tetrachloride Exchangers
  • HF Acid Carbon Block Exchangers
  • Sulphur exchangers
  • Flare Lines with pyrophoric fouling
  • Dry cold cutting in pyrophoric environments
  • Nuclear decontamination
  • Mercury contaminated crude exchangers



  • When deposit characteristics are unknown Tube Tech often take a selection of dry cleaning technologies to site as deposit consistency can differ greatly.
  • Rotaflex dry rotary micro-flex drive cleans tubes up to 30M long and up to 600mm diameter.
  • JettShott removes dry deposit in seconds from straight and u-tube (hairpin) heat exchangers.
  • SafeDrill is a dry rotary drilling system using extendable rigid lances from 3m to 3000m in length to clear vertical and horizontal tubes and blocked pipelines.
  • DryjeTT surface preparation uses 50,000 psi liquid ice leaving no secondary waste.
  • Robotic dry convection bank cleaning within boilers and fired heaters on ethylene furnaces, refineries and power stations providing near 100% cleanliness unlike any other technology.



Tube Techs ability to ‘dry clean’ process equipment within the refining, offshore, petrochem and nuclear industries is unrivalled and ‘dry cleaning’ is being requested more frequently within all industrial sectors.

Tube Tech’s R & D department can solve seemingly impossible ‘dry’ cleaning challenges in every industrial sector. The Engineering Manager of a major UK petrochemical plant recently commented; “Cleaning without water is an unusual challenge for heavy industrial cleaning contractors so we were pleased with Tube Tech’s outside the box thinking and their ability to dry clean these exchangers effectively, safely and quickly.” A refinery manager recently commented “Tube Tech’s ability to dry drill, polis and remove all traces of spent catalyst saved an enormous amount of time and money. The most incredibly innovative equipment I have ever seen.”