Texas Towers (Vertical Combined Feed Exchangers) are arguably the second largest consumers of energy in MWatt terms. Designed never to get dirty, with a small footprint they are in fact fouling at an alarming rate. Some because the plant has expanded and put more load upon them, some due to catalyst or oil carry over and some due to poor choice in cleaning technology.
Refinery operators chose cheap and cheerful chemical cleaning which is “out of sight out of mind” and the norm when cleaning traditional, horizontal heat exchangers. Big mistake! Rarely if ever will chemical cleaning work on a bundle this large and when it doesn't, it is often swept under the rug.
Considering Texas Towers are also one of the biggest profit centres for fuel supply you would think that their cleaning would be scrutinized more!
The average charge from chemical cleaning contractors of BOTH the shell and tube side of 2 Texas Towers could be in the region of $600k with no guarantees. True, using chemicals avoids pulling the bundle which can cost anywhere from $500k to 1m. Performance may even be seen to improve over the next few days even weeks but 9 times out of 10 it will rapidly decline, resulting in compounded fouling, leading to a loss in production throughput and heat transfer putting even more load onto the fired heater to compensate.
Tube Tech however can remove 90% to 100% of fouling from both tube and shell side using bespoke mechanical cleaning technologies at a price far less than chemicals with guarantees of mechanically unblocking all tubes and removing all fouling from the shell side too, confirmed by using CCTV recording.
Performance would improve immediately and would not decline. Resulting in a typical net energy saving of $1m to $4m per exchanger per annum (based on current oil prices and size of exchanger).
Having successfully cleaned over 30 Texas Towers world-wide, Tube Tech ask all CCR Platformer operators to investigate the difference a mechanical clean could make to their returns.
“Our VCFE was cleaned and inspected to production standard without overrunning the shutdown period.”
Shutdown Co-ordinator, Total, France
“When you do IRIS testing and you do it the first time and there is no rework then there is no added cost whereas on site here in the past we had to clean and re-clean and re-clean and then it’s not only the cost of the cleaning company it’s the cost of all the other resources that are supporting that activity. So it all compounds.”
Shutdown Co-ordinator, Shell, Canada
“Tube Tech showed great resourcefulness in adapting to the situation. Our VCFE was cleaned and inspected to production standard without overrunning the shutdown period.”
Turnaround Co-ordinator, Refidomsa, Dominican Republic