Reactor Charge Heater Efficiency Restored to Design


IGS Maximises Efficiency of Reactor Charge Heater

Faced with fouling within the convection section of its reactor charge heater reducing efficiency and performance, a petrochemical company turned to IGS for a solution.


With a rich history spanning decades and a promising future, a leading polyolefins and performance chemicals producer in Jubail, Saudi Arabia has long been recognized as a prominent player in the industry. Committed to innovation and excellence, this company has consistently sought ways to optimize its operations and maintain its competitive edge.

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The Challenge

Restoring the efficiency of a fouled reactor charge heater

One of the key challenges faced by the petrochemical company was the fouling issue within the convection section of its reactor charge heater, which is part of the propane dehydrogenation plant (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant. The accumulation of deposits, both on the bare and finned tubes, had a detrimental impact on the efficiency and performance of this critical asset.

The Solution: IGS Tube Tech Robotic Cleaning

In search of a reliable and efficient solution, the petrochemical company turned to IGS, a renowned provider of innovative robotic efficiency technologies for industrial applications. IGS proposed the deployment of its proprietary Tube Tech robotic cleaning system to address the fouling problem in the reactor charge heater.

Image: View from the access window created by Hot-tek, showing the underside of tube row four and the top of tube row five

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Access Creation with IGS Hot-Tek Service

Prior to the robotic cleaning intervention, the IGS Hot-tek service team was engaged to safely create the necessary access in the shell of the fired heater to allow for the seamless deployment of the IGS Tube Tech robotic cleaning system onto the lower banks of the convection section.

The IGS Tube Tech Advantage

The IGS Tube Tech robotic cleaning solution offered a comprehensive suite of benefits that aligned with the petrochemical company’s goals:

Exceptional Cleanliness: The robotic cleaning system was able to achieve a remarkable 90-95% cleanliness of the tubes, restoring the reactor charge heaters to their optimal performance levels.

Process Preheating and Steam Generation Recovery: By effectively removing the accumulated deposits, the robotic cleaning process restored the reactor charge heaters’ ability to preheat the process stream and generate steam, improving overall plant efficiency.

Reduced Fuel Firing: With the improved heat transfer efficiency, the plant experienced a significant decrease in the amount of fuel required to operate the heater, leading to cost savings and reduced environmental impact.

Decreased CO2 Emissions: The reduction in fuel consumption directly translated to a measurable decrease in the plant’s CO2 emissions, contributing to the company’s sustainability goals.

Lower Stack Temperatures: The robotic cleaning process resulted in a reduction in the stack temperatures of the heater, further enhancing the overall efficiency and reliability of the asset.

No-Man-Entry Remote Cleaning: The IGS Tube Tech robotic system enabled the cleaning to be performed remotely, without the need for personnel to enter the potentially hazardous environment within the equipment. This approach significantly improved the safety of the maintenance activities.

Implementation and Results

The IGS Tube Tech team successfully deployed its robotic cleaning system to the petrochemical company’s facility, meticulously navigating the technology through the convection sections of the affected heater. The targeted and thorough cleaning process effectively removed 90-95% of the accumulated deposits, restoring the heater to its design parameters.

Image: View from the access window created by Hot-tek, showing the underside of tube row four and the top of tube row five after Tube Tech’s de-fouling service was completed

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Reactor Charge Heater Efficiency Restored

The petrochemical company’s partnership with IGS Tube Tech demonstrated the power of embracing innovative solutions to address complex industrial challenges. By leveraging the advanced robotic cleaning technology, along with the access creation expertise of IGS Hot-tek, the company was able to maximise the efficiency of its reactor charge heater, restoring its efficiency and reliability while also contributing to its sustainability goals.

This case study highlights the plant’s commitment to continuous improvement and its ability to collaborate with industry-leading providers like IGS Tube Tech to drive excellence and secure a promising future in the competitive petrochemical landscape.


I’m here to help

Larry Emch

IGS Subject Matter Expert


Fired Heater
Tube Tech