Conference Dates

July 1-6, 2007

First Page



Fouling of heat exchangers is a major problem in many industrial processes. The higher temperature of the heat exchange surface compared with the liquid containing precipitable compounds causes the formation of inorganic deposits. Removing the deposits on plate heat exchangers is most often carried out by high-pressure cleaning. This is a laborious task and often increases the corrosion rate of the plates by increasing the roughness of the cleaned surface. This study presents an electrochemical method to clean heat exchange surfaces fouled by deposits and to prevent formation of deposits. This method utilizes pulsating current to polarize heat exchange surfaces with periodic anodic and cathodic DC current. The shape of the pulse and the current density are adjusted to maximize the deposit removal rate, thus minimizing plate corrosion. The optimal pulsating current depends on the material of the heat exchange surface, as well as the composition of the deposits and the solution. For cleaning, the current densities and the frequency of the current pulse are typically higher than those used for preventing deposition. Pulsating current can effectively remove deposits with low solubility, such as TiO2 on titanium heat exchange plates or dense gypsum deposits on stainless steel plates. For cleaning titanium, the cathodic pulse and formation of hydrogen is more essential than in the cleaning of stainless steels. However, the risk of corrosion limits the use of high current densities. Experiments have until now been carried out mainly in the laboratory, though industrial pilot cleaning equipment has also been constructed. An application has already been submitted to patent the method.