Identify Root Cause of Heat Exchanger Tube Failure | AIChE

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Identify Root Cause of Heat Exchanger Tube Failure

Effective root cause analysis (RCA) can resolve recurring heat exchanger tube failure, enabling safe operation and reducing costs.

Heat exchanger troubleshooting is an essential task in the chemical process industries (CPI). Because heat exchangers are the workhorses of most process units, any failure in an exchanger incurs not only capital and labor costs for repair, but can also cause unscheduled downtime and lost production. When such failures do occur, identifying the root causes of the incident helps to prevent reoccurrence.

This article uses a real case study to provide guidelines for identifying the root causes of heat exchanger tube failure. The case study identifies mechanisms that can cause tube failures and evaluates their likelihood. The analysis relies on commercial rating software and a fundamental understanding of multiphase flow. Finally, the article outlines several remedial steps and lessons learned.

While no two tube failures are alike, lessons learned from this case study will help engineers and operators to maintain the integrity of their assets and ensure safe and uninterrupted operation...

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