# Lecture Notes 5

Fouling of Heat Exchangers
ME485
Heat Exchanger and
Steam Generator Design
Fouling
Accumulation of undesirable deposit on a HEX surface.
Fouling occurs in natural systems as well.
Introduction
• HEX are designed for thermal processes to work within
allowable pressure drop limits and for a specified time
period.
• Fouling results in higher thermal resistance and higher
pressure drop, thus pumping power.
• Excessive fouling causes HEX cleaning or replacement.
• Fouling affects the initial cost
(more material may be needed),
operating cost (cleaning is very
expensive!), and HEX
performance significantly.

Basic Considerations
• Remember rate of heat transfer (general form)

• U will be different for clean HEX and fouled HEX surfaces.
They can be related by
R
ft
: total fouling
resistance
• Heat transfer rate under fouled conditions is

• Specified processes fix Q and AT
m
under both conditions, so

• U
c
R
ft
: Additional surface area required due to fouling
m
T A U Q A =
f o
i
f i o
f t f t
c f
R
A
R A
R , R
U
1
U
1
+ = + =
mf f f f
T A U Q A =
f t c
c
f
R U 1
A
A
+ =
Figure 5.2 Effect of Fouling on Surface Area
Effects of Fouling
• Overall heat transfer coefficient decreases

• Average R
ft
values specified in the design of ~750
shell-and-tube HEX are given in Table 5.1
o
fo
i o o
fi
i
o
i i
o
f
h
1
R
kL 2
) d / d ln( A
R
A
A
h A
A
1
U
+ +
t
+ +
=
Effect of fouling on heat transfer
• Using Table 5.1 and typical h values for boiling, condensation,
and gas flow, Table 5.2 is prepared.
• Table 5.2 shows % increase in area for shell-and-tube boiler,
evaporator, and condensers; single-phase flow on tube side.
• The change in flow geometry due to fouling affects the flow
field and pressure drop, thus pumping power.
• Remember pressure drop

• Assuming that mass flow rate is the same under clean and
fouled conditions,

• Inner diameter under fouled conditions and fouling thickness

• Table 5.3 lists k
f
, t
f
, % area remaining, and % increase in Ap
of typical fouling materials
• Ap increase up to 70% (assuming f
f
= f
c
)
Effect of fouling on pressure drop
2
u
d
L
4f p
2
m
i
µ
= A
5
f
c
c
f
c
f
d
d
f
f
p
p
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
A
A
|
|
.
|

\
|
÷ =
c
f f
c f
d
R 2k
xp e d d
(
¸
(

¸

|
|
.
|

\
|
÷ =
c
f f
c f
d
R 2k
xp e - 1 d 5 . 0 t
Note corrections
on formulas
• Increased capital expenditure
– Heat transfer area is increased
– Pumps and fans are oversized
– May need duplicate HEX during cleaning
• Increased maintenance cost due to on-line and off-line
cleaning
• Loss of production due to operation at reduced capacity
• Energy losses
Effect of fouling on cost
Fouling is named as the major unresolved problem in heat
transfer.

Aspects of Fouling (read Section 5.4 for detail)
Categories of fouling (classified according to principal
processes that cause it)
• Particulate (solid particle accumulation on surface)
• Crystallization (mainly due to dissolved inorganic salts)
• Corrosion (corrosive fluids or impurities)
• Biofouling (material of biological origin; bacteria, mold,
seaweed)
• Chemical reaction (polymerization, coking of
hydrocarbons)
Different types of fouling can occur simultaneously, or
complement each other.
Fundamental processes of fouling (fouling mechanisms)
• Initiation (surface conditioning – temperature, material,
roughness, etc.)
• Transport (diffusion, sedimentation, and thermophoresis)
• Attachment
• Removal (due to shear forces; dissolution, erosion,
spalling)
• Aging (property change)

Prediction of fouling (fouling mechanisms)
• We must know how fouling progresses with time
• The constant value of R
f
used is the value reached before
cleaning
• Variation of fouling with time

|
d
: deposit rate
|
r
: removal rate

t
D
: delay time

r d
f
dt
dR
| ÷ | =
Figure 5.3 Typical R
f
– time curve
Figure 5.3 continued
• Linear (A)
– Constant |
d
+ negligible |
r
(gives R
f
= |
f
t), or constant |
d
- |
r

– Fouling increases until cleaning
• Asymptotic (B)
– Constant |
d
and |
r
proportional to fouling layer thickness
– Stability of the layer deteriorates
– Soft, flaky deposits
• Falling-rate fouling (C)
– |
d
inversely proportional to fouling layer thickness
• Saw tooth (D)
– Periodic change in operating conditions
Design of HEX Subject to Fouling
• Fouling provisions must be made during design stage.
• Operating characteristics and cleaning schedules
depend on the design fouling factor.
• Several approaches to provide allowance for fouling,
all result in excess heat transfer surface area.
• We will cover three methods:
- Specifying fouling resistances
- The cleanliness factor (CF)
- Percent over surface (OS)
Fouling Resistance
• Specify R
f
initially ÷ U + ÷ Excess surface area
• HEX will perform until R
f
is reached, then it must be cleaned.
• TEMA Tables 5.5 - 5.11 provide R
f
for various (but limited)
process fluids, flow conditions, and HEX configurations.

Cleanliness Factor (developed for the steam power industry)

• Figure 5.4 gives R
ft
based on CF for U
c
values
• Low velocities, thus low
U
c
increase fouling.
• Typical value for CF
is 0.85
f t
c f
c
f
R
U
1
U
1
U
U
CF
+ =
=
c f t c
f t
U R 1
1
CF or
CF U
CF 1
R
+
=
÷
= ¬
Percent Over Surface
• In design, add a % of clean surface area to account for
fouling
• Taking Q and AT
m
same under both conditions,

• Typical value for OS is 25%
• e.g. in shell-and-tube HEX, provide additional surface by
increasing tube length or number of tubes (thus, shell
diameter)
• The changes will affect design conditions (flow
velocities, number of passes, baffle spacing, etc.)
f t c
c
f
R U 100 1
A
A
100 OS =
|
|
.
|

\
|
÷ =
Relationship between R
f
, CF, and OS
(Table 5.12, for Example 5.1 in book)
R
ft
(m
2
K/W) CF OS (%)
0.00005 0.85 17.7
0.00010 0.74 35.3
0.00015 0.65 53.0
0.00020 0.59 70.7
0.00025 0.53 88.4
0.00030 0.49 106.0
0.00035 0.45 123.7
0.00040 0.41 141.4
Review Examples 5.1-5.3 in book.
Example 5.3 discusses the operation of a HEX with fouling
Techniques to Control Fouling
• Surface cleaning techniques (on-line or off-line)
- Continuous cleaning (installation of cleaning materials
into the system)
- Periodic cleaning (mechanical or chemical removal of
fouling)