Vapor Infusion

The vapor infusion system injects (infuses) vaporous treatment into the water flow stream of heat exchangers and process equipment, thus creating a profusion of macro-, micro- and nanobubbles. Vapor infusion bubbles have a low oxygen, chemically treated vapor core that includes an aqueous reactive surface, which

  • requires less chemical treatment
  • mechanically prevents fouling formation
  • inhibits scaling
  • reduces corrosion sites and sedimentation
  • improves heat exchanger efficiency
  • works during process operation (unlike cleaning in place, teardown, and other cleaning protocols)

How vapor infusion works

Dry, oil-free compressed air is directed to a vapor infusion control device that allows airflow at a desired flow rate, duration, and frequency. When the air travels through the vapor infusion cartridge within the vapor infusion control device, the air extracts vapors from the antifoulant medium in the cartridge, reducing oxygen concentration in the air stream. The reduced oxygen air stream, now with chemical vapor, acts as a carrier to the heat exchanger or process equipment. The antifoulant-laden vapor is infused into the water flow stream of the heat exchanger through an infusion wand, introducing a vapor bubble cloud that includes macro-, micro-, and nanobubbles. These bubbles mechanically prevent and chemically reduce fouling on internal surfaces of heat exchangers and process equipment using a three-pronged approach. First, chemical treatment prevents biofouling and scaling. Second, macro/microbubbles sweep sediments and large foulant residue away. Third, nanobubbles begin clustering scaling nanoparticles, thereby increasing the solubility of the fouling species in the solution and resulting in the dissolution of bulk scaling precipitants. The clustered nanoparticles are then carried away with the flow stream.

Illustration of vapor infusion system

Vapor Infusion lowers operating and maintenance costs

Clean heat exchangers and processing equipment reduce operating costs by continuously running an efficient heat exchange at lower pressure drop. Maintenance costs are reduced by extending the time between cleaning protocols or by eliminating cleaning all together, which reduces the disposal of hazardous cleaning, chemical generation, handling, or release of cleaning agents into the environment.

Vapor Infusion is an environmentally friendly option

Using vapor and bubbles to carry the chemical treatment to the interface with heat exchanger surfaces means that lower concentrations of chemicals are necessary and that low concentration levels (ppb) remain in the process water effluent. With reduced cleaning protocol frequency, or elimination of cleaning protocol, cleaning waste that would typically be released to the environment is reduced or eliminated.

Vapor infusion as part of your decarbonization program

Fouling reduces thermal conductivity and impedes flow within the heat exchanger, resulting in increased pressure drop across the heat exchanger. The increased pressure drop requires more sea water and pump power (from the ship or processing power plant) to produce the same amount of heat transfer, thereby increasing the amount of CO2 emissions. Vapor infusion's continuous, in situ cleaning reduces or eliminates fouling and allows the heat exchangers to operate at optimum design efficiency. Clean heat exchangers reduce energy consumption by sea water pumps, thereby increasing power plant fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.

Vapor Infusion Story

Michael Radicone

Vapor infusion was patented by Michael Radicone of I2 Air Fluid Innovation, Inc. Early studies conducted with the United States Navy and commercial applications indicated a profound antifouling effect of vapor infusion treatment. The results of the studies led to the submission of an abstract and subsequent paper at the 2013 International Conference on Heat Exchanger Fouling and Cleaning held in Budapest, Hungary. The audience included researchers from various universities and industries around the world, along with corporate staff of HTRI. After hearing Michael's presentation, Claudette D. Beyer, who was President and CEO of HTRI at the time, invited Michael to present vapor infusion technology at HTRI's 2013 Global Conference & Annual Meeting of Stockholders and began discussion of collaboration.

In 2014, HTRI and I2 Air Fluid Innovation, Inc. agreed to cooperate, market, and further develop vapor infusion for use with heat exchangers and process equipment. HTRI is now the exclusive worldwide provider of vapor infusion technology for heat exchanger and water processing applications using fluid flow (including liquid or gas). Successful heat exchanger implementations in shipping, oil rigs, geothermal and aquaculture (that use water as coolant) has led to an expansion of commercial use in these applications.