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Fouling Factors

The use of fouling factors is a common method to account for the expected fouling tendency
of a process and maximize the runtime between cleaning for shell and tube heat
exchangers. Fouling factors are selected to represents the fouling expected just before
cleaning time. This method results in the heat exchanger performing better when clean and
just meeting the heat transfer requirements when fouled.
Both physical and economical considerations must be reviewed when selecting the
appropriate fouling factors. Physical considerations that influence the selection of the
fouling factors are:

nature of fluid

type of fouling

fluid temperature

wall temperature

material of construction

fluid velocity

Economic considerations that influence the fouling factors selection are:

Initial purchase cost of the exchanger

Variations of cost with size

Frequency of cleaning required

Cost of cleaning (including loss of production)

Fluid pumping cost

Desired net return on investment

The initial purchase cost increases with increasing fouling resistance while cleaning and
down-time expenses generally decrease with increasing fouling resistance. However,
using large fouling factors can lead to more fouling than anticipated and result in more
frequent cleaning. Selecting the optimum fouling factors involves satisfying conflicting
goals.
The link below lists typicall fouling factors.

Typical Fouling Factors


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Fouling Factors
Fouling is a function of the system and the equipment used. Parameters which influence the
fouling rate in a system include: the type of fluid, the type of heat exchanger, the
temperatures, the velocities and the materials of construction. The actual fouling rate is
different for each application.
There are numerous resources for fouling factor values. The best source is from existing
operating facilities. When production data is available, it can be used to calculate the actual
fouling factors for the system. Together with the maintenance and cleaning history, this
provides the best resource for selecting the fouling factors for a particular application.
However, when production data is not available, one must rely on other sources. Over the
years, typical fouling factors have been compiled for various systems and fluids. The tables
below show some of these typical fouling factors:

Process Fluids

Fouling Resistance

(ft2-F-hr/BTU)

Oils

Fuel Oil #2

0.002

Fuel Oil #6

0.005

Transformer Oil

0.001

Engine Lube Oil

0.001

Gases and Vapors

Acid gas

0.002 - 0.003

Ammonia vapor

Chlorinated hydrocarbons vapors

0.001

0.001 - 0.0015

Chlorine Vapor

0.002

CO2 vapor

0.001

Compressed Air

0.001

Hydrogen

0.0005

Hydrogen (saturated with water)

0.002

Light Hydrocarbon vapors (clean)

0.001

Natural Gas

Natural Gas Flue Gas

Nitrogen

Polymerizable vapors (with


inhibitor)

0.001 - 0.002

0.005

0.0005

0.003 - 0.03

Refrigerant Vapors (oil bearing)

0.002

Solvent Vapor

0.001

Stable Overhead Products

0.001

Steam (non-oil bearing)

Steam (exhaust, oil bearing)

0.0005

0.0015 - 0.002

Liquids

Ammonia Liquid

0.001

Ammonia Liquid (oil bearing)

0.003

CO2 Liquid

0.001

Chlorinated hydrocarbons liquid

0.001 - 0.002

Chlorine Liquid

0.002

DEG & TEG Solutions

0.002

Ethylene Glycol Solutions

0.002

Gasoline

0.002

Heavy Fuel Oils

0.005 - 0.007

Heavy Gas Oil

0.003 - 0.005

Hydraulic Fluid

0.001

Kerosene

0.002 - 0.003

Light Gas Oil

0.002 - 0.003

Light hydrocarbon liquid (clean)

0.001

MEA & DEA Solutions

0.002

Naphtha and Light Distillates

0.002 - 0.003

Organic Heat Transfer Liquids

0.002

Refrigerant Liquids

0.001

Water

water temperature

water velocity

Fouling Resistance

Fouling Resistance

(ft2-F-hr/BTU)

(ft2-F-hr/BTU)

125F or less

over 125F

3 ft/s or less

over 3 ft/s

3 ft/s or less

over 3 ft/s

Boiler Blowdown Water

0.002

0.002

0.002

0.002

Brackish Water

0.002

0.001

0.003

0.002

0.0005

0.0005

0.0005

0.0005

Cooling Tower Water (treated)

0.001

0.001

0.002

0.002

Cooling Tower Water


(untreated)

0.003

0.003

0.005

0.004

Condensate

City or Well Water

0.001

0.001

0.002

0.002

River Water (minimum)

0.002

0.001

0.003

0.002

River Water (average)

0.003

0.002

0.004

0.003

River Water (muddy or silty)

0.003

0.002

0.004

0.003

0.0005

0.0005

0.001

0.001

0.001

0.0005

0.001

0.001

Sea Water

Treated Boiler Feed Water

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