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Liquid-side fouling of heat exchangers. An integrated R&D approach for conventional and novel design


The present design practices in industry to cope with cooling water fouling result in oversizing heat exchangers, thus substantially raising the cost of plants. Fouling is also responsible for process inefficiencies due to increased thermal resistance, and for the use of environmentally undesirable additives in cooling water circuits. This investigation is focused on the fouling behaviour of conventional and novel heat exchanger designs for cooling water applications. The main objective is the improvement of design and operation procedures, and the development of guidelines for standardizing fouling measurement methods. Design and operating procedures as well as directions for the development of measurement standards will be given in a form convenient for industrial applications.

Experiments will be carried out with novel heat exchanger designs, in cooling water applications, to study particulate fouling. New data will also be obtained in conventional configurations under conditions of particulate and crystallization fouling. To help interprete the above data, independent laboratory measurements of particle detachment will be carried out. Data sets from this project and from other sources will be evaluated and a databank will be created. On the basis of these data, an assessment of presently used standards will be made, to narrow the margin of uncertainty and to provide more concrete design recommendations. In order to systematically define standard conditions and procedures for making fouling measurements, two main activities are foreseen. The required and achievable accuracy, for reliable fouling measurements, will be determined first and a systematic assessment of various experimental procedures will follow. A simulation algorithm will be developed for a typical cooling water circuit. All the essential elements of such a system will be taken into account. Typical case studies will be carried out to examine whether overall optimum operation of the cooling system creates more (or less) favourable conditions for fouling.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


6Th Km, Charilaou - Thermi Road
57001 Thessaloniki

Participants (4)

Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA)
Centre D'études De Grenoble
38041 Grenoble
National Engineering Laboratory (NEL)
United Kingdom

G75 0QU East Kilbride
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
United Kingdom
OX11 0RA Didcot - Oxfordshire
Vicarb SA
18 Avenue Marcel Cachan
38400 Saint-martin-d'hères