Cleaning the Impossible: Cracking the Ethane Cracker

Our client converts ethane gas with its world-scale ethane cracker to 1.3 million tons of ethylene per year. Unfortunately their heat exchangers began fouling with a very heavy tar type substance. They tried to clean these exchangers using five contractors with various types of cleaning tools and solutions including hydro blasting up to 20,000 PSI and chemical cleaning after introducing steam to soften the foulant. They were unable to clean even one exchanger to the desired MFL inspection level. The problem was so nasty that contractors refused to even bid on solving the problem. The client really needed a sustainable solution since they expected to have to clean the exchangers annually.

The client requested we perform an immediate job walk. We proposed our proprietary Hydrokinetics method to unplug and descale the exchanger tubes, and were able to clean the tubes in one pass to achieve the MFL inspection level in less than two shifts. Due to our compact cleaning technology, containment was easy and left the exterior of the equipment free of any residue, unlike the previous cleanings.

The client was delighted and relieved to finally discover a cleaning solution for these problematic exchangers that they awarded the cleaning of the remaining 15 exchangers immediately. In addition, they awarded a long term contract to clean these exchangers annually as well as identifying other problem equipment which we successfully cleaned.