Texas Tower VCFE Cleaning Enables IRIS Inspection and Saves $8Mil+

Integrated Global Services (IGS) deployed Tube Tech’s engineered VCFE cleaning solution to remove fouling from 2688 tubes across two Texas Towers. 100% of tubes were cleaned to a production standard and 10% of tubes received enhanced cleaning for IRIS inspection.

Texas Tower (VCFE) Fouling

The challenges for owners of fouled combined vertical feed exchangers (VCFE) are numerous. Arguably one of the most critical assets on a plant these challenges include unknown fouling characteristics, inaccessibility faced by traditional
cleaning and inspection service contractors leading to their inability to remove fouling from both internal and external
heat transfer surfaces. Failed attempts often lead to serious safety issues.

Why Do Texas Towers (VCFEs) Foul?

VCFEs were originally designed not to foul. However, over several decades these units have often been pushed to the
limits or have been subject to inadvertent carry over such as catalyst and oil on the shell side as well as the usual build-up
of polycyclic aromatics, gum-like deposits and very hard hydrocarbon coke scale.

shell-side-fouling (2)

The VCFE Cleaning Challenge

In this particular case the refinery based in Canada experienced several failed attempts at cleaning the 60-ft vertical tubes to a standard suitable for IRIS inspection.

The refinery was recommended to approach Integrated Global Services (IGS) about their Tube Tech engineered cleaning suitable for IRIS integrity assessment. The alternative would have led to substantial capital replacement expenditure up to $8 million and all the associated costs that replacement entails.

Quick Facts

Typical duty: 32MW

Cost of MW hr @ 90$ per barrel: $52

If VCFE fouling is: 40%

Average loss is: $5.6 Mil per annnum

Scope of Work

  • 1434 tubes per exchanger, total 2868 tubes.
  • 100% of tubes to be cleaned to production standard.
  • 10% of tubes to receive enhanced cleaning ready for IRIS inspection.
  • Deposit characteristics: rubber, chewing gum consistency, polycyclic aromatics, hydrocarbons, hard inert coke and
    ferrous oxide scale.

Completed VCFE Cleaning Project

IGS set up bespoke Tube Tech cleaning technology to access the tube face to drill, descale, polish and inspect the tubes.
During the cleaning, projectiles left behind by previous contractors were identified and removed.


This unique service guarantees that all Texas Tower (VCFE) tubes can be simultaneously cleaned and inspected to IRIS
standard, allowing asset integrity assurance and minimizing substantial asset replacement and associated costs.

Refinery Feedback on the Project

1. Was the Project Completed to the Required Standard?
Yes, IRIS standard met.

2. Were Good Levels of Communication Maintained Throughout?

3. Was the Service Provided Value for Money?
Yes, no rework.


Thank you for all your hard work and patience. I hope to be working with you again in the near future.

TA Block Coordinator

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