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Air cooled chiller tubes – maintain efficiency through regular cleaning

November 1, 2013

air cooled chiller

A delicate industrial machine that requires regular and comprehensive check-up and maintenance is the air cooled chiller. Because of the sheer complexities of its parts and their respective functions, it is a must that owners maintain their quality so that as a whole unit, the chiller will deliver the high-level performance that’s expected of it.

One of the vital parts of an air-cool chiller is the condenser tube. Easily, the level of efficiency of this essential tool goes down if it is torn or broken down. One instance when the tubes are affected is when unwanted materials and contaminants such as algae, mud, scale, and sludge are able to settle along the side of the heat-transfer surface.

Fouling incident occurs at a rate that’s dependent on the type of chiller unit that’s used. This can cause the tubes to malfunction or perform at an efficiency that is lower that it’s supposed to. Tube quality is also affected by the general temperature, cleanliness, and quality of water.

Operators and owners may take advantage of any of the following techniques in cleaning air cooled chiller tubes:

1. Chemical cleaning

This method removes scales effectively. Air chiller makers recommend owners to confer with the water-treatment supplier in their locality in order to identify the required chemical solution necessary for cleaning. After chemical cleaning, it must be followed by a mechanical cleaning technique to ensure totally cleaned chiller tubes.

2. Mechanical cleaning

This method cleans algae, sludge, mud, and loose substances from chiller tubes. Steps include the removal of water-box cover, scrubbing the tubes and then flushing it with a good amount of water. If the tubes are enhanced internally, operators and owners must consult the manufacturer for its cleaning recommendations.

Features that help clean and maintain chiller tubes

The latest chiller models boast of an automatic tube-brushing system. Such system can also be installed into the old-model chillers. With this feature, the tubes become equipped with nylon-bristle brushes that go through the chiller tubes to clean. A custom-made, 4-way reversing valve is positioned within the condenser water-pipe. As soon as it is in place, every 6 hours, it automatically reverses the flow via the tubes for around 30 seconds.

This system, together with the standard water treatment and cleaning, assures the elimination of accumulated dirt and debris as well as foul odor. It is also tasked in maintaining the necessary temperatures. Such system, while it may cost a good amount, assures a payback period of two years or even less.

Frequency of cleaning chiller tubes

Manufacturers advise owners to clean the condenser tubes of their units every year if such components are a part of an open-type chiller system. In case of a closed system, they highly recommend cleaning of the tubes once every 3 years. However, if the evaporator component is part of an open-type system, it is advised to make frequent check-up and cleaning. Whether open or closed system, what’s important is to make sure that cleaning sessions are done regularly on the tube, and all other parts of the air cooled chiller.

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