A Vertical Combined Feed Exchanger (VCFE), also known as a Texas Tower, at a refinery on a Caribbean island was experiencing a significant drop in performance caused by blockages in the tubes. Texas Towers (VCFEs) are a vital piece of equipment as they cool down the platforming product against cold feed.
This type of heat exchanger has a very high heat duty. A 10% loss of heat duty due to fouling in the tubes translates to a financial loss of 1.5 million USD every year. Fouling can lead to blocked tubes, and this will eventually limit the design throughput. Such flow limitations lead to costly performance losses.
“We planned the unblocking of the Texas Tower carefully to minimise downtime, but we did not expect the number of tubes that were found to be blocked when the exchanger was opened. Once support services had finished modifying the scaffolding and supplies to Tube Tech’s requirements, the fouling removal progress was very good. Tube Tech showed great resourcefulness in adapting to the limited access situation. Our VCFE was unblocked and inspected to production standard without overrunning the shutdown period.”