Fouling of top-side equipment is a common but non-trivial challenge in oil production. Especially offshore, where servicing is costly and time consuming, technologies to prevent or reduce fouling is wanted. For plate heat exchangers (PHE), fouling, of both organic (e.g. wax deposits) and inorganic (e.g. limestone scaling) nature, is capable of reducing the performance of the PHE to a state where on-shore servicing is required, in just six months.

We here present the development and test of a coating system, coined CORE Coat 010, which has demonstrated excellent results in the prevention of fouling formation on titanium PHEs used in offshore crude oil processing. The coating is a Sol-Gel derived glass ceramic organic:inorganic hybrid system. Given the glass ceramic nature, the coating system exhibits efficient thermal conductivity, is highly flexible, very wear resistant and only 5 µm thick.

From initial laboratory scale tests to full scale application on complete PHE units for offshore operation, the coating has demonstrated excellent stability in crude oil contact, minimal impact on heat transfer and an excellent ability to repel fouling that would otherwise hamper operation. To date, the longest operating PHE has been in position for approx. 1000 days, compared to approx. 180 days for non-coated units, operated under similar circumstances. Besides the use on crude oil PHE's the coating technology may be applicable in other crude oil processes where fouling is an issue.

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