Case History

US refinery decontaminates heavy organic polymeric sludge from heat exchangers resulting in a 33% reduction in outage time utilizing FQE® Solvent-PR+

Results Achieved

Heat exchangers successfully decontaminated of heavy organic polymeric sludge to restore operational performance
33% reduction of allocated outage time
Saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in mechanical cleaning costs and associated outage time

Chemicals Utilized

Rapid removal of solid hydrocarbon and polymer deposits

In November 2017, a major American refiner located in Corpus Christi sought out a solution to dissolve heavy organic sludge containing polymerized material in a sulfolane unit.

During operation, the degradation of sulfolane produced a foulant consisting of heavy organic material and polymer.

Due to conditions at the plant the project needed to be completed within a short timeframe. To avoid any major economic setbacks, the refinery had to meet the following stringent conditions:


To utilize a product that could successfully dissolve the deposits


To meet a narrow window of 6 hours to fully clean a set of copper heat exchangers

Since other competitive products could not meet these criteria, FQE Chemicals was tasked with developing a new solvent product. The result was the development of FQE Solvent PR+. During the application, it was dispersed in a hydrocarbon cutter stock and heated to a temperature of 160-180°F. The material was circulated through the sulfolane unit until all the heavy organics and polymeric materials were fluidized. The project was deemed completed in 4 hours, thereby providing a 33 percent reduction of the allotted timeframe.

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