HTRI Fouling Program: Progress and Outlook

Targeted investments and sponsored projects have brought improvements in testing capability and quality to the HTRI fouling program.

Aaron D. Smith, Coordinator, Fouling
November 1, 2016

In the past three years, targeted investment in a dedicated fouling team, capital equipment, and sponsored projects with external consultants have reinvigorated the HTRI fouling program. As a result of these efforts, we have realized significant improvements in testing capability and quality.

Fouling plots illustrating the reduction in noise resulting from instrumentation and control upgrades

Rig data quality has been improved through upgrades to data acquisitions and process control equipment, as well as the development of better control schemes. Additionally, development of data based and criteria-based methods has helped improve reliability and repeatability of our fouling data. Looking ahead, HTRI has several projects in mind that will:

  • Continue to improve our fouling rigs
  • Expand our fouling contract testing services
  • Improve data management and analysis capabilities
  • Investigate a wider range of factors that influence fouling
  • Introduce new models to describe fouling of fluids
  • Strengthen our fouling models and predictive tools

We plan to make key improvements, including automation of the fouling rigs, expanding the number of test sections on the High Temperature Fouling Units (HTFUs) from two to six, and adopting hydraulic pressurization on the HTFU-2. Automating these units will reduce the amount of manpower required per test – thus increasing productivity as well as providing a higher level of reproducibility. Increasing the number of test sections on the HTFUs will increase our data generation capacity.

Key improvements are being made to the HTFU and other fouling units

The traditional approach for creating fouling models has been largely empirical. HTRI intends to develop models that are more firmly based on principles of transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and chemical reaction engineering.

Our new laser scanning microscope
Three-dimensional fouling deposit image

To initiate this effort, we will begin studying and modeling styrene in solvents, beginning with the use of styrene in kerosene as a control fouling fluid for validating test rigs. From this starting point, we will increase the fluid’s complexity in an incremental and controlled fashion, so that we can propose new models to describe the fouling of the fluid based on more rigorous scientific principles.