Fluid maintenance specialist Global Heat Transfer has released a white paper warning industry of the impact of carbon residue on plant system ageing and effectiveness. The paper is available to download free of charge from the company’s website. 

Heat transfer fluid maintenance and analysis are essential operations that need to be conducted periodically. In the paper, Dr Chris Wright, head of R&D at Global Heat Transfer describes best practice for maintenance and the health warnings that can help diagnose problems with heat transfer systems and thermal fluids. 

The paper goes on to discuss a typical case of system malfunction where, although the maintenance procedures were followed, laboratory tests and data analysis revealed additional problems that required urgent attention. 

Dr Wright urges manufacturers to pay attention to signs of overheating and thermal cracking. Doing the necessary tests, as well as enlisting maintenance help from a reputable thermal fluid specialist can save money in the long run and help avoid accidents. 

“In my experience even plant operators that proactively look after the safety and health of their systems can find they have issues that require expert advice,” explained Dr Wright. “Carbon residue, also known as coke, is the biggest offender when it comes to system safety. It can lead to fouling and eventually carbon deposits chocked pipes, creating a fire hazard. Ideally, action should be taken when the carbon residue level is somewhere between 0.75 and 1.00% of total fluid weight. At this level, maintenance consists of flushing and replenishing the fluids. Anything above that will need aggressive cleaning which can lead to significant plant downtime,” Dr. Wright concluded. 

The white paper also discusses flashpoint management and total acid number (TAN) values. Correctly controlling both means that maintenance activities become routine and thus costs are kept down. 

The paper, which is available to download free of charge from http://www.globalheattransfer.co.uk/, provides plant operators with a checklist containing ideal values and a traffic light system for heat transfer fluid analysis and management.