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Inspectioneering Journal

Rapid Screening Improves Heat Exchanger Reliability

By Richard L. Lopushanksy at Southwest Research Institute. This article appears in the May/June 1999 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has developed an innovative method for rapid screening of heat exchanger tubing using Guided Wave technology. This screening method can lead to an improvement in heat exchanger reliability and a reduction in the cost of operations.

There are currently three generally accepted methods for examining carbon steel heat exchanger tubing - internal rotating ultrasonic testing (IRIS), remote field eddy current testing (RFEC), and magnetic flux leakage (MFL). The major limitations of these methods is that they are either too slow, depend too much on operator expertise and/or require too much cleaning before they can be used effectively. Where these methods are slow, it has become standard practice in industry to inspect only a sample of the tubes in an exchanger. In many cases fewer than 10% of the tubes in an exchanger are examined and maintenance and fitness for service decisions are made on the basis of these limited inspections.

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