Skip to main content

How to Clean a Shell Tube Heat Exchanger


Chemical Cleaning of Shell Tube Heat Exchanger

HOUSTON, TX - The Ethyl Corporation, Houston facility, recently contracted with CleanCo Systems Industrial Service Company to perform Chemical Cleaning on two of the facilities fixed shell tube heat exchangers. Tim Green, General Manager of CleanCo Systems and project supervisor explains, "The fixed tube exchanger presents a challenge for cleaning the shell side of the exchanger. The tubes are permanently welded in the shell or casing and in order to clean the surfaces of contaminates, fouling and oil or grease we utilize our chemical cleaning system and specialized equipment."

The equipment used for this project is a trailer mounted, closed loop pumping system driven by a 400 HP diesel engine and a circulating pump along with two each 250 gallon stainless steel tanks. The flow rate of the system is adjustable to up to 2000 GPM. "We utilize our own chemists and digital lab devices to determine the proper chemicals to use. We determine what form -- foam, liquid, cascading, or circulation -- as well as how strong the cleaning solution must be. No guesswork. No "one chemical fits all". We'll determine what will work -- and then go to work," Green continued.

After the chemical cleaning process, the exchangers were repositioned to the tube lancing area of CleanCo's Off-Site Heat Exchanger Cleaning Facility. A multi-tube lancing system is used with five tubes simultaneously cleaned with 10,000 psi of water knocking out all fouling and contaminates on the inside of the tubes. The facility has a state of the art water recycling system that significantly reduces water usage and the waste stream generated with this type of cleaning.

Once the exchangers were completely cleaned, CleanCo performed Eddie Current Testing and Inspection of the tubes to determine metal condition and wear prior to being placed back into operations. CleanCo Systems also provides exchanger repair and tube refits but in the case of the Ethyl exchangers, the inspections indicated they had plenty of life left in them and went right back to the plant and back into operations.

For all of your Heat Exchanger, Hydroblasting, Chemical Cleaning, Vacuum Truck Services and Hydro-Excavating needs, call CleanCo Systems at 713-304-4148.