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CHAPTER 4 – General Models of Fouling

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CHAPTER 4 – General Models of Fouling

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CHAPTER 4

4.1 INTRODUCTION

In Chapter 1 it was stated that the rate of build up of deposit on a surface could

be defined by the simple concept of the difference between the rates of deposition

and removal. In more precise mathematical terms

dm

= ~o - ~R (4.1)

dt

and #n and ~R are the deposit and removal mass flow rates per unit area of

surface respectively

The equation is a statement of the mass balance across the fluid/solid interface, i.e.

In addition to the increased heat transfer resistance of the foulant layer its

presence can have two further effects. If the deposit thickness is appreciable, then

the area for fluid flow, the cross-sectional area of a tube for instance if the

deposition takes place within a tube, is reduced (see Chapter 3) Under certain

conditions, this reduction may be considerable. For the same volume flow,

therefore, the fluid velocity will increase and for identical conditions the Reynolds

number will increase.

If the clean tube diameter is d~ and the volumetric flow rate is V then the

original velocity u~ is given by

4

u, = V ~ (4.3)

If due to the fouling process d~ is reduced to d~/2 the new velocity u 2 for the same

mass flow rate is given by

V4x4

u2 - (4.4)

24 Fouling of Heat Exchangers

16V

(4.5)

~12

i.e. a fourfold increase in velocity.

d 1 16V P i . e . 8Vp

2 ad, 2 r/ ad, r/

4V .p_p_i.e4Vp

i.e. the Reynolds number has been doubled due to the presence of the deposit.

In addition the roughness of the deposit surface will be different from the clean

heat exchanger surface roughness (usually greater) which will result in a change in

the level of turbulence particularly near the surface. Greater roughness will

produce greater turbulence with its enhancement of heat transfer or a smoother

surface may reduce the level of turbulence. An alternative statement describing the

effects of fouling may be made on this basis [Bott and Walker 1971 ].

heat transfer thermal to roughness to change in

coefficient resistance of of foulant Re caused by (4.6)

foulant the presence

of the foulant

The purpose of any fouling model is to assist the designer or indeed the

operator of heat exchangers, to make an assessment of the impact of fouling on

heat exchanger performance given certain operating conditions. Ideally a

mathematical interpretation of Equation 4.6 would provide the basis for such an

assessment but the inclusion of an extensive set of conditions into one

mathematical model would be at best, difficult and even impossible.

Fig. 1.2 provided an idealised picture of the development of a deposit with time.

Other possibilities, still ideal, are possible and these are shown on Fig. 4.1. Curve

C represents the asymptotic curve of Fig. 1.2. Curve A represents a straight line

relationship of deposit thickness with time, i.e. the rate of development

GeneralModels of Fouling 25

Vl

tA

r

C

t./

o1,.i

41-.

.4.-

.m

t/t

0

r

s

Time t

Initiation

period

of the fouling layer is constant once the initiation of the process has taken place.

Curve B on the other hand, represents a falling rate of deposition once initiation

has occurred. It is possible that in effect, Curve B is essentially part of a similar

curve to C and if the process of deposition were allowed to progress sufficiently an

asymptote would be produced.

General models of the fouling process are essentially the fitting of equations to

the curves illustrated in Fig. 4.1. The curves A, B and C on Fig. 4.1 are shown to

have an initiation or induction period, but in some examples of fouling, e.g. the

deposition of wax from waxy hydrocarbons during a cooling process, the initiation

period may be so short as to be negligible. It is often extremely difficult or

impossible to predict the initiation period even with the benefit of experience, so

that most mathematical models that have been developed ignore it, i.e. fouling

begins as soon as fluid flows through the heat exchanger.

The inaccuracY in ignoring the initiation period is not likely to be great. For

severe fouling problems the initiation of fouling is usually rapid. Where the

establishment of the fouling takes longer it is usually accompanied by a modest rate

of fouling. Under these circumstances where long periods between heat exchanger

cleans are possible, the induction period represents a relatively small percentage of

the cycle. Errors in ignoring it are therefore small particularly in the light of the

other uncertainties associated with the fouling process. Typical initiation periods

may be in the range 50 - 400 hours.

26 Fouling of Heat Exchangers

The simplest model is that of Curve A in Fig. 4.1 but ignoring the induction

period and would have the form

dr

xI =-~-. t (4.7)

If the induction time (or initiation period) is t~ then the Equation 4.7 becomes

The difficulty of course in using this model is that without experimental work

dx/dt is unknown and the use of xI to determine the fouling resistance to heat

transfer is also a problem since the thermal conductivity of the foulant is not

usually known (see Chapter 2). In terms of fouling resistance Equation 4.8 would

take the form

_dR

R~ - - - ~ ( t - t~) (4.9)

x~ (4.10)

R1~= 2I

Even in this form the model is difficult to use unless dR/dt is known from

experimental determinations the conditions of which can also be applied to the

fouling problem in hand.

One of the simplest models to explain the fouling process was put forward by

Kern and Seaton [ 1959].

R~ =Rioo(1-e~ ) (4.11)

General Models of Fouling 27

curve, Fig. 1.2 (or Curve C on Fig. 4.1, but ignoring the initiation time). It is an

idealised model and does little for the designer of a heat exchanger unless specific

values for RI~ and fl are to hand. The actual values of these constants will depend

upon the type of fouling and the operating conditions. In general there will be no

way of predicting these values unless some detailed experimental work has been

completed. Such research is ot'ten time consuming and therefore, expensive. The

Kern and Seaton model does, however, provide a mathematical explanation of the

simple fouling concept. A compromise solution was proposed [Bott and Walker

1973] which employs limited data gathered over a much shorter time span, but the

results of such an approach would need to be treated with caution.

Kern and Seaton [1959] proposed a mathematical restatement of Equation 4.1

with tubular flow in mind of the form

dt

where K~c'M is the rate of deposition term similar to a first order reaction

By assuming that c' and M are constant which is reasonable for a steady state

flow heat exchanger, and xI the thickness, is very much less than the tube diameter

for deposition in a tube, it is possible to integrate Equation 4.12.

28 Fouling of Heat Exchangers

K~c'M(1-e-X~") (4.13)

The equation is similar to equation 4.11 in form with K~c'M a constant for a

also a constant and equivalent to ti-

The initial rate of deposition and the asymptotic fouling resistance can be

obtained by putting x = 0 and dry = 0 in Equation 4.12.

dt

then(--

-]t__o=KlC'M (4.14)

c'M

The asymptotic thickness xroo= (4.15)

Kern and Seaton [1959] developed the theory further using the Blasius

relationship, to make allowance for the change in flow area caused by the

deposition process.

2 = K/Re..25 (416)

.

d

and Ap = 4 ~ (4.17)

dp2 g

General Models of Fouling 29

(4.18)

Ap~ is the pressure drop at the asymptotic value of the foulant thickness

K~c' characterises the fouling qualities of the fluid and generally will remain

K~

constant. Should practical data be available for one set of conditions, the thickness

of the asymptotic value of the fouling thickness at a different set of conditions may

be obtained from the ratio"

xI~,_ ~| ~ _ o., ~ ,

~|

(4.19)

xe.~ - [ p M~ ] g - L~,J

L/~ J 4 1

generalised equation for fouling; that is to say with no reference to the mechanism

of deposition. In general, it can be assumed that the mechanism of removal will be

similar in most situations since it will depend upon the conditions at the

fluid/foulant interface, although the cohesive strength of the foulant layer will be

different in different examples.

A generalised equation for asymptotic fouling for any mechanism based on the

"driving force" for deposit development has been proposed [Konak 1973]; the

"driving force" is suggested as the difference between the asymptotic fouling

resistance and the fouling resistance at time t., i.e. the driving force = (RI~- R~).

Assuming a power law function

dR~=K(RI~_R~). (4.20)

dt

where K is a constant

n is an exponent

30 Fouling of Heat Exchangers

forn~l

when n= 1

(4.22)

Both Equations 4.21 and 4.22 satisfy the boundary condition xI ~ 1 and t ~ oo

Equation 4.22 is a form of Equation 4.11 proposed by Kern and Seaton [ 1959]

exemplified by Curve B on Fig. 4.1. He assumes that

dt

where n is an exponent

For constant surface coefficient of heat transfer a, the heat flux is given by

AT

q=UoAT=~ (4.25)

a

General Models of Fouling 31

Assuming that the overall temperature difference remains constant with time a

combination of Equation 4.24 and 4.25 yields

dRy = K (4.26)

at +R:)"

where K is a constant

t-t dR R/ K

Integrating f ~ - f (4.27)

/=o at ~. (Rc )"

1 1

TT n+l TT n+l

= Kt (4.29)

"D "C

to be made, will depend on the mechanism responsible for the fouling, e.g. whether

or not the fouling is caused by chemical reaction or mass transfer of particles.

Such data are not in general, readily available.

Attempts have been made to develop the generalised models that were devised

several decades ago. For instance Taborek et al [ 1972] took the general equation

dm

= #n - #s (4.30)

dt

and ~R- These authors recognised that a specific fouling mechanism must modify

the general equation, and proceeded to outline the form of the equations that might

be used to take account of this fact. Thus they introduced expressions that took

account of chemical reaction, mass transfer and settling. The removal term was

written in terms of fluid shear and the bond resistance in the deposit that affected

32 Fouling o f Heat Exchangers

removal. Despite these refinements however, these models still lei~ a great deal to

be assumed about the particular fouling problem under consideration.

The use of general models for fouling analysis has many attractions but with the

present state of knowledge and the severe limitations on the generation of suitable

data, their application to specific problems is unlikely to be significant at least in

the immediate future. The fact that the references to general models are roughly in

the period 1960 - 1975, with little published since that time is not without

significance. The recent initial work of Anjorin and Feidt [ 1992] on the analysis of

fouling using entropy concepts however, shows promise. The next two chapters

illustrate the complexities that are "hidden" in the terms ~z~and ~ As the work on

fouling develops, in the longer term, generalised relationships may assume more

importance.

The present development of general theories to the problem of fouling,

however, has the very definite advantage that it has drawn attention to the

underlying phenomena and seeks to make a logical analysis of the problem. The

undoubted worth of this approach is to emphasise the factors which need to be

considered in any development of a theory and model of any particular system.

Specific models that have been developed for particular mechanisms will be

discussed in the appropriate chapters.

REFERENCES

Anjorin, M. and Feidt, M., 1992, Entropy analysis applied to fouling - a new

criteria, in: Bohnet, M., Bott, T.R., Karabelas, A.J., Pilavachi, P.A.,

S6m6ria, R. and Vidil, R., eds. Fouling Mechanisms Theoretical and

Practical Aspects. Editions Europ6ennes Thermique et Industrie, Paris, 69 -

77.

Bott, T.R. and Walker, R.A., 1971, Fouling in heat transfer equipment. Chem.

Engr. No. 251,391 - 395.

Bott, T.R. and Walker, R.A., 1973, An approach to the prediction of fouling in

heat exchanger tubes from existing data. Trans. Inst. Chem. Engrs. 51, No.

2, 165.

Kern, D.O. and Seaton, R.E., 1959, A theoretical analysis of thermal surface

fouling. Brit. Chem. Eng. 14, No. 5, 258.

Konak, A.R., 1973. Prediction of fouling curves in heat transfer equipment. Trans.

Inst. Chem. Engrs. 51,377.

Epstein, N., 1981, in: Somerscales, E.F.C. and Knudsen, J.G. eds. Fouling of Heat

Transfer Equipment. Hemisphere Publishing Corp. Washington.

Taborek, J., Aoki, T., Ritter, R.B., Palen, J.W. and Knudsen, J.G., 1972,

Predictive methods for fouling behaviour. Chem. Eng. Prog. 68, No. 7, 69 -

78.

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