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Inspection of air fin exchangers

The exchanger header boxes can be flanged or welded type with plugs. If flanged, then the header
box covers shall be opened and tube sheet must be inspected. The tube ends shall be checked for
thinning or pitting or any other signs of corrosion. The gasket seating faces shall also be visually
checked. In case of plugged header boxes, plugs shall be opened and tube condition is to be
ascertained.

The tubes should be internally inspected for health assessment using advanced NDT techniques such
as RFET or IRIS.

Inspection of IG-E-131 A-P HP hot separator overhead vapour condenser

Exchanger design data


Code ASME Sec VIII Div. 1 2010 edition with 2011 addenda
Fluid H2S+H2+HC+H2O+NH3
design pressure 65/FV kg/cm2
design temperature 175 degree Celsius
Working temperature (in/out) 131.8/55 degree Celsius
operating pressure 53.5 kg/cm2
Hydro test pressure (vertical at top) 85.6 kg/cm2
Radiography (shell/head) Full
joint efficiency 0.9
PWHT Header boxes only
Corrosion allowance 6mm
Tube to tube sheet joint Strength welded
MDMT 15 degree Celsius

Tube material of construction: SA179 annealed

The plug arrangement in the header box is of double plug type. The double plug arrangement is
provided so that the threads of the outer plug will not be subjected to corrosive service conditions.
The outer plug has a tell-tale hole in the centre which gives indication whether the gasket between
the inner plug and the header box groove has failed or not. The plugs must be visually inspected for
these flow marks or ammonium deposits. If the plug tell-tale hole is found clogged, it must be cleared
as soon as possible.

The service fluid in the exchanger may contain significant amounts of H2S, NH3 and salts like
ammonium bisulphide and ammonium chloride which can lead to under deposit corrosion and
subsequent thinning of the exchanger tubes and downstream piping. Regular thickness survey needs
to be done especially concentrating on the dead legs and stagnation points like drains for thickness
loss. When taken for turnaround maintenance, NDT such as RFET can be performed to identify the
extent of thinning in the tubes. During service conditions, adequate wash water injection has to be
ensured at the air fin exchanger upstream piping to dissolve the ammonium salts.
The utility in using double plugs in header boxes are that the threads in the carbon steel outer plug
won’t get damaged by the corrosive action of the service fluid due to the gasket and inner plug
between them. If the gasket fails, then the fluid may enter the region between the two plugs. The
inner plug has a hole drilled in it to the centre which is in line with the weep hole in the outer plug.
Whatever fluid that enters the region between the 2 plugs will move into the inner plug hole and then
to the outer plug weep hole and come out serving as an indicator that gasket has failed.

During operation, the pressure difference between the inlet and outlet piping should be checked
regularly. Higher pressure difference signifies fouling in the exchanger tubes indicating inadequate
wash water injection which may lead to under deposit corrosion and subsequent tube failure.

External inspection of plenum chamber is to be done regularly for water dripping which may be
suggestive of tube leak.
Thermal sleeve in injection point

Injection point of treat gas (hydrogen) into the feed to the reactor is provided with a thermal sleeve.
The thermal sleeve prevents local thermal shock and possible subsequent stress corrosion in the pipe
wall where the cold fluid would otherwise impinge on the hot pipe surface. It also protects the pipe
from erosion due to impingement.

The material of construction of thermal sleeve is Incoloy 825/SS Gr 321 seamless/ electric fusion spark
welded. The material thickness is 5mm. The sleeve is welded at one end and free at the other. The
main pipe sleeve has four strips at the end at 0, 90,180 and 270 degrees to maintain the position of
the sleeve in the centre of the main pipe.

It should be noted that both the main pipe and the injection pipe are provided with thermal sleeves.
The ID of the hole in the main pipe sleeve shall be 10mm more than the OD of the branch sleeve to
maintain 5mm gap all around for allowing expansion of sleeves.