Analysis Of Heat Exchanger Failure

Heat exchangers are critical in protecting other valuable manufacturing equipment, reducing energy consumption, and reducing operating costs. A properly installed, maintained, and selected heat exchanger can increase the reliability and efficiency of a fluid system. If a heat exchanger fails, it can cause costly downtime. The failure analysis of plate heat exchangers, shell and tube heat exchangers, radiators, and coolers is one of our specialties. We offer rapid turnaround on all heat exchanger tube failure analyses, including deposit analyses and microbiologically induced corrosion testing. We often encounter 'excessive load' as the first issue. A change in plant capacity could lead to an increase in the heat exchanger's load, causing it to be overloaded. 

The plant may benefit from re-designing the Heat Exchanger in some cases. A successful alternative is to retrofit existing units with technologies like Thermal System turbulators. Plant management should understand that the key benefit is improving processing conditions while avoiding high overhaul costs and reducing large capital expenditures. These are both important to budgeting.

Causes of Heat Exchanger Tube Failure Tube Corrosion Shell and tube heat exchangers that use carbon steel tubes are most vulnerable to corrosion (oxidation) of their heat transfer surfaces. Most corrosion is caused by the reaction between oxygen (O2) and iron (Fe2, Fe3). As a result of this reaction, a layer of iron oxide (Fe2O3) is created on carbon steel tubes, resulting in decreased thermal conductivity and eventually the tubes deteriorating. As a result, this problem is difficult to combat and is only identified when tubing becomes so corroded that thermal performance levels decrease, fluid flow is significantly reduced or the tubes are perforated and leak.

Stream Pressure Loss When installing Heat Exchangers in a new plant, it is important to determine their optimal size and operation in order for the plant to function efficiently. Upgrades to sub-sections of the plant may not consider the maximum processing capacity of the Heat Exchanger, resulting in a decrease in plant performance. Often, excessive steam pressure loss prevents further plant growth at higher production levels. The process plant will need to replace various pieces of Heat Exchanger equipment in order to increase capacity. Scale, Mud And Algae Fouling Various marine organisms and deposits can leave a film or coating on the surfaces of heat transfer tubes. It acts as an insulator, preventing heat flow and protecting corrosive components. The result of this insulating effect is a rise in tube wall temperatures and an increase in corrosion.