Biofouling on plate heat exchangers and the impact of advanced oxidizing technology and ultrasound

University essay from KTH/Skolan för kemivetenskap (CHE)


Fouling in general and biofouling in specific is a problem concerning many industries. Biofouling occur in environments favorable for biological growth. As an example, industries using cooling water have problems with biofouling. The problem is apparent on heat exchangers as biofilm reduces the heat transfer and thus the performance. There are several different methods to reduce fouling on tube and shell heat exchanger on the market. However, for plate heat exchanger the alternatives are fewer. Generally, cleaning is performed by opening the heat exchanger and cleaning the plates one by one.

This thesis aimed to present some of the biofouling reducing methods available on the market, and principally methods that could be applied on plate heat exchangers. Two of the methods were selected to be evaluated in experimentally; Advanced Oxidizing Technology (AOT) and ultrasound. The performances were evaluated by semi quantifying the amount of produced biofilm on plates of stainless steel, polystyrene and titanium. The plates were either reference plates, i.e. under no influence of some reducing method, or they were submerged in the tank when ultrasound or AOT were under operation. The test with ultrasound was performed once, whereas the test with AOT was performed twice. Ultrasound showed the best result; by reducing the amounts of produced biofilm from 68-100 % on all the plates, independent of the material used. AOT showed ambiguous results. From the first test it seemed to affect the production of biofilm, whereas in the second test it did not proof to have the same affect.

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