Vertical Falling Film evaporator cleaning system improves safety

Robotic Cleaning System avoids dangerous man entry

900 fouled exchanger tubes in a dehydrator at the UK plant of an international chemical company was not responding to traditional 15000 psi high pressure water jetting over 10 shifts. Due to the dehydrator performance dropping off prematurely and unexpectedly the client felt that the traditional high pressure water jetting was no longer removing enough deposit.

The Challenge

  • Over 2000 falling film evaporator tubes, 18m from ground level.
  • Calcium sulphate scale approx 2mm thick with patches of blocked tubes.
  • Remote cleaning technology – non-man entry technique essential.
  • Local water pressure jetting contractors were taking months to clean.
  • Lost time accidents occurring during traditional water jetting processes.


  • Create new robotic concept FastIndex Evaporator cleaning system.
  • FastIndex system involves multiple, pre-programmed, computer controlled indexing arms, moving set distances across the tube face “from below” using super high water pressure jets combined with de-scaling heads, operating in-house designed 4000 bar cleaning tips.
  • Explosion proof cameras used to ensure precise location of jets and to simultaneously inspect.
  • A complete falling film evaporator mock up built in UK and live video of progress throughout the trial period.

Tube Tech Comment

Mike Watson, Technical Director: “These are the kind of challenges that we love here at Tube Tech. The client presented us with a serious challenge where safety was paramount which encouraged us to push the boat out to develop a brand new robotic technology for falling film evaporator tube cleaning which will benefit many other clients in the future who have man entry safety issues when cleaning vertical heat exchangers as found in de-salination plants etc”.

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