This document is an expanded abstract.


This article highlights the potential of polymer composite heat exchangers to replace current metallic exchangers in hydrocarbon processing. Key findings from a hydrocarbon industry-supported research project are summarized, with future research needs identified to enable the implementation of polymer composite technology in hydrocarbon processing heat exchange applications.


Currently used conventional metallic heat exchangers for hydrocarbon processing are prone to corrosion and fouling. This can result in significant degradation of process cooling/heating capacity and reliability over time, and increased operational costs due to increased fluid pumping power, intensive maintenance requirements and/or costly corrosion/fouling mitigation approaches.

As an illustration, the impact of corrosion-induced fouling is quantified for a shell and tube heat exchanger used as a sour water stripper in an hydrocarbon processing facility. The effect of corrosion-induced scale formation on the thermal resistance is estimated for a single tube having characteristics as illustrated in Figure 1. The heat exchanger is fabricated with tubes made of stainless steel material, having inner (ID) and outer (OD) diameter of 17.4 mm and 19.05 mm, respectively, and a thermal conductivity of 13 W/m.K. The thermal resistance is calculated assuming a uniform scale distribution having a thermal conductivity ranging from 0.3 W/m.K to 2 W/m.K, and for steam side (i.e., tube side) and sour water side (i.e., shell side) heat transfer coefficients ranging from 1000 W/m2.K to 2500 W/m2.K and 500 W/m2.K to 1500 W/m2.K , respectively.

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