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Tube Leak in Heat Exchanger

Tube Leak in Heat Exchanger

(OP)
Good day Ladies and Gent,

We have been having an issues with high differential pressure across our ethylene/ethane splitter, which is forcing us to inject methanol every once in a while. We are currently trying to figure out the source of this issue.

Recently, one heat exchanger (upstream of the C2 splitter) had tube leaks and forced us to shutdown the plant. As a temporary measure, some of the leaking tubes were plugged while others were hard to identify due to time limitation. This exchanger is a shell and tube heat exchanger (Low pressure steam in the shell and high pressure cracked gas in the tube).

My question is:

Is it possible to have some steam leak into the tubes (traces) considering the huge pressure difference? Steam pressure is 3 BAR while gas pressure is 34 bar.


Your insight and thoughts are much appreciated,

Sincerely.

RE: Tube Leak in Heat Exchanger

If there is a leak there will always be some flow back to the high pressure side. This is mostly driven by diffusion.
Some of these leaks can also generate a 'venturi' effect and actually suck material back to the high pressure side.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: Tube Leak in Heat Exchanger

Steam leak into the cracked gas side is simply not possible with the pressure differential you've stated.
Presume this leaking HX is the splitter column bottoms reboiler ?

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