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Thin Sol-Gel Coatings for Fouling Mitigation in Heat Exchangers

Fouling and corrosion of heat exchangers poses a challenge for oil and gas operators. Here we describe recent efforts to develop and deploy thin, sol-gel-derived coatings to mitigate fouling and promote continuous operation of exchangers without compromising heat transfer efficiency.

Product Number: 51317--9168-SG
ISBN: 9168 2017 CP
Author: Seth Taylor
Publication Date: 2017
Industry: Petroleum Refining
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Fouling of heat exchangers poses a significant challenge for Oil and Gas operators requiring regular maintenance and cleaning procedures to ensure efficient and safe operation of equipment. Polymeric coatings have been used by industry to alleviate fouling in shell-and-tube (S&T) exchangers but these coatings have historically suffered from poor reliability and compromised heat transfer efficiency owing to their thick insulating nature. Alternative approaches to maintaining clean heat-transfer surfaces that are cost-effective and do not disrupt equipment availability are sorely needed by industry.This paper describes recent efforts to develop thin sol-gel-derived coatings to mitigate fouling and promote continuous operation of process-critical exchangers without compromising heat transfer efficiency. The hybrid organic/inorganic sol-gel coatings exhibit repellency towards a broad range of organic and inorganic fouling species encountered in crude oil and hydrocarbon processing. Primary attributes of the spray-applied coatings include low surface energy chemical- and wear-resistance flexibility and very low thickness ensuring high heat transfer efficiency as well as mechanical and chemical durability. This paper describes application of different sol-gel coatings onto carbon steel materials and test their viability in different process fluid environments. We also report on the fouling performance of these coatings in crude oil and produced water environments and summarize their performance as deployed in industrial heat exchangers.

Key words: Heat exchangers, reliability, fouling, corrosion, coatings, sol-gel, shell-and-tube, crude oil

Fouling of heat exchangers poses a significant challenge for Oil and Gas operators requiring regular maintenance and cleaning procedures to ensure efficient and safe operation of equipment. Polymeric coatings have been used by industry to alleviate fouling in shell-and-tube (S&T) exchangers but these coatings have historically suffered from poor reliability and compromised heat transfer efficiency owing to their thick insulating nature. Alternative approaches to maintaining clean heat-transfer surfaces that are cost-effective and do not disrupt equipment availability are sorely needed by industry.This paper describes recent efforts to develop thin sol-gel-derived coatings to mitigate fouling and promote continuous operation of process-critical exchangers without compromising heat transfer efficiency. The hybrid organic/inorganic sol-gel coatings exhibit repellency towards a broad range of organic and inorganic fouling species encountered in crude oil and hydrocarbon processing. Primary attributes of the spray-applied coatings include low surface energy chemical- and wear-resistance flexibility and very low thickness ensuring high heat transfer efficiency as well as mechanical and chemical durability. This paper describes application of different sol-gel coatings onto carbon steel materials and test their viability in different process fluid environments. We also report on the fouling performance of these coatings in crude oil and produced water environments and summarize their performance as deployed in industrial heat exchangers.

Key words: Heat exchangers, reliability, fouling, corrosion, coatings, sol-gel, shell-and-tube, crude oil

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