Alleviate Heat Exchanger Flaws

Heat exchanger flaws and fouling increase fuel usage and maintenance costs and put operations and production at risk.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor to Plant Services magazine

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Heat exchanger flaws and fouling increase fuel usage and maintenance costs and put operations and production at risk. New choices in heat exchanger testing, design and materials are alleviating these concerns.

Acoustic testing: Acoustic pulse reflectometry (APR), used in seismic studies, duct investigation and musical instrument research, is the basis for AcousticEye’s non-invasive testing method for heat exchanger systems. APR measures one-dimensional acoustic-wave propagation in tubes and then records and analyzes the reflections produced by changes in the cross-sectional area of the tubular system to detect flaws.

AcousticEye’s Dolphin 2000 uses the technology to detect leaks, wall loss, full or partial blockages, corrosion and fouling. The Dolphin system emits a series of acoustic waves down the tube and measures the resulting reflections, and its patented software identifies each defect’s type, location and severity. The heat exchanger’s owner might assign thresholds for each type of flaw so that only measurements exceeding the threshold are categorized as flaws. Before accepting or rejecting flagged items, the technician might drill down for further measurement information, including the signal graph.

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