Chemical Cleaning of Process Equipment & Piping: Deposits that causes fouling in equipment and piping need to be removed time

to time to maintain operational efficiency…
Yousuf Memon, Reliance Swift Veritas, Karachi Email:

Introduction: Typical process equipment and piping get both organic and inorganic substances deposited on them, coming from the fluid being processed such as water, crude oils, petroleum products, lubricating oils, chemicals etc. etc. These deposits or sometime called fouling need to be removed time to time to prevent damage and maintain efficiency of operation. Chemical cleaning is the use of chemicals to dissolve or loosen deposits from process equipment and piping. Chemical cleaning is a process which primarily uses chemical solutions to remove fouling from inside plant and equipment. The chemical cleaning is performed in many industries in the commissioning of new plant facilities and during operational turnarounds of existing plants. The use and purpose of chemical cleaning varies in commissioning vs. operational scenarios. Pre-commissioning chemical cleaning: Critical plant and equipment requiring higher levels of cleanliness are often chemically cleaned. Critical equipment is equipment whose operating conditions require higher levels of cleanliness due to operating temperature (steam systems) or systems whose continued integrity requires higher levels or cleanliness (lubrication systems) or systems whose product purity is dependent on a clean system (oxygen, food grade and paint production systems). The purpose of this cleaning is to remove manufacturing and construction contaminants that would be detrimental to that equipment’s operation. The cleaning may be undertaken for degreasing of preservatives and organics and the removal of mill scale and rust from the systems.

scale. As the magnetite scale grows with service time it increases the thermal resistance of the generator tube to the imposed heat flux. As the magnetite gets thicker that can result in the metal temperature of the generator tube exceeding the yield temperature for the given stress conditions. filings. slag. Fouling of Equipment: Deposits that cause fouling accumulate in equipment and piping and impede heat transfer or fluid flow or cause product contamination. Some examples are reductions in heat transfer and general corrosion which result in partial or complete loss of equipment output. Increasing fouling levels decrease efficiency by changing process conditions from those designed. Chemical Cleaning Pre-Commissioning Operational In case. inorganic. catastrophic failure of plant can occur resulting in complete and extended loss of use. For newly constructed piping. or other types of contamination that are easily seen should be visually inspected with the unaided eye. flux. Organic deposits: Hydrocarbons Polymers Coke formed in various process streams Slime and algae found in cooling water circuits Animal and fats and oils . rust. Scales are crystalline deposits that precipitate in a system. Deposits may be organic.Operational plant chemical cleaning: Operating plant and equipment is chemically cleaned for several reasons: Removing deposits that cause reduced productivity of the equipment. metal chips. chemical cleaning are employed solely for the removal of dirt. Removing deposits that cause overheating and corrosion of the operating equipment Removing vapors and deposits that cause environmental and safety issues when opening equipment for inspection and maintenance. weld spatter. This is the main concern with fouling in steam generator plants such as those in power station boilers. or a mixture of the two. Tube failure results and hundreds of thousands of dollars per day of power generation capacity is lost in downtime. paint. the fouling is allowed to continue.

Mn. Process and oil leaks can foul boilers and cooling systems. mud. which is likely to be found in natural-gas and petroleum-refining processes or when aqueous solutions of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are dried in the absence of air.g. soft. Process-side deposits: There are many types of process-side deposits. Cu and Zn Sulphates of Ca and Mg Silicates (usually complex) Sludge and corrosion products: The fouling can exist in a range of forms from light. Hydroxyapatite (Ca3(PO4)2. In some cases. tars. Fly ash deposits can accumulate in coal-fired boilers. process-side. steam turbines. which poses additional problems. Often such coatings are designed to be chemically resistant. can add to deposits and scales. easily removable "sludge" types to hard. The most common is iron sulfide. . and preoperational. Organic residues. Ironcopper and nickel containing deposits often occur in HF plants. Some process-side deposits are pyrophoric when exposed to air or oxygen. fire-side. Principal sources of deposits: There are four principal sources of deposits: water-side. and cooling systems. Mg and Fe. Slags from burning oil and wastes can corrode boiler equipment if they become moist. if not properly controlled. Fe. Hardness (calcium and magnesium) based deposits and iron oxide are the most common water-side deposits and often affect boilers and cooling systems. Biofouling. Mg. Organic deposits may develop through the polymerization of leaking gases or from the decomposition of process constituents. organics help to bond inorganic deposits. Sulfate deposits are common in H2SO4 plants. Gas-fired boilers are generally clean. and debris are often found in cooling systems. Silica can form hard. Cu and Zn Haematite Fe2O3 and geothite FeOOH Phosphates of Ca. and coke are common in the petroleum and petrochemical industries. Some compounds that are burned in incinerators or waste heat boiler scan seriously corrode or erode boiler tubes. layered "scale" types such as magnetite (Fe3O4) coatings in boiler tubes. e. Iron oxide and sulfides are often present in these organic deposits. adherent deposits in boilers.Inorganic deposits: Carbonates Oxides Hydroxides of Ca. resins and solvents) become "foulings" in the sense that they must be removed prior to commissioning plant.Ca(OH)2) Sulphides of Fe. Treatment chemicals. complex. such as iron oxides or sulfides. Fire-side deposits: Fire-side deposits can be extremely corrosive. Water-side deposits: Water-side deposits are of many types. Temporary rust preventatives and corrosion resistant "Japan Black" pipe fitting coatings (a mixture of carbon black.

nickel-base alloys. cadium. and aluminum from scaffolding. zinc. weld spatter.Heat transfer efficiency? Low… Preoperational deposits: Preoperational deposits are formed during the fabrication and erection of process equipment and piping. reactive metals. protective shop coatings. and chlorine in certain making materials. and zinc. Highly alloyed materials. may become contaminated with iron from tooling. metal surfaces become coated with dirt. Principal Sources of Deposits Water-Side Deposits Cleaning Fire-Side Deposits Process-Side Deposits Preoperational Deposits . These elements can cause corrosion or embrittlement. pipe-threading compound. sulfur. oil. In addition to mill scale residues. grease. or high temperature alloys. such as stainless steels. and corrosion products.

They should be removed to the base metal. because the sample at this location may not be representative. the deposit must be characterized. and x-ray spectrometry. or identified. A cleaning procedure should not be based on a sample of loose deposit from a non-critical area. optical emission spectroscopy. The sample should represent the deposit in the most critical fouling area. Thickness. porosity. Expediency should not dictate the location of the sample. and color should be noted. taking care not to introduce any metallic chips from the blade or substrate. density. Many analytical techniques are used to characterized deposit samples.Identification of deposits: To select an effective cleaning procedure. the samples should be as intact as possible. For exchangers and boiler. this is the highest heat transfer section. type (homogeneous or layered). Typical methods include x-ray diffraction. Calcium carbonate (Calcite) scale sample collected from heat exchanger tubes . When removed by scraping.