Gas turbine compressor cleaning is complex; the why and how of turbine cleaning correctly involves an understanding of chemistry to create effective products... and use them properly.    

Whether your gas turbine power plant is in an urban or rural area, choosing the right water wash chemical and using the appropriate volume of chemicals is one of the critical components to get the most out of your wash. If you’re taking the time to do the wash, you want it to be as effective as possible! Let’s get stuck into the science.

Cutting corners

In the world of power production, time is money: or rather, downtime costs money. When carrying out an offline wash, it’s extremely tempting to make the process as quick as possible. When doing an off-line wash with soap, rinsing the compressor until optimal conductivity is reached is important. Rinse cycles add time to the overall wash and sometimes the choice is made to dilute the soap to reduce the amount of water and time spent washing.

Over-diluting your water wash chemical, whether it’s a solvent or water-based soap is not recommended. Severely over-diluting your wash chemical is a waste of time, soap, and water. This is why….

The science of surfactants

A certain level of surfactants must be present to have any effect on the dirt, oil, dust, and grime on the surface areas you intend to clean.

Surfactants are the ingredient(s) in the cleaning solution that reduces surface tension between various types of grime and surfaces. They also suspend fouling solids and fluids together and prevent the dirt and grime from re-depositing on the surface that’s being cleaned.

The surfactant used in FYREWASH® products has a water-loving head (red) and a grease/dirt loving tail (black).

The above diagram illustrates how the surfactant breaks up, grabs the dirt and keeps it in solution. 
In concentration, these molecules make up a micelle. The micelle is a group of molecules aligned with the hydrophilic heads facing outward, while the tails and the dirt they collected are facing inward. This allows the micelle to flow through the cleaning process and keeps the dirt from redepositing.

Concentration is key

If the cleaning solution is over diluted, only a limited concentration of micelles is formed. Although the surfactant molecules will still “pick up” dirt in the over-diluted cleaner, there won’t be enough of them within proximity to form the micelle. Without the formation of a micelle the surfactant molecule won’t be effective in carrying the dirt away from the surface that is intended to be cleaned.

The result will be a gas turbine compressor that is no cleaner after a wash than before a wash. You will have wasted time, energy and products.

Follow the instructions

The instructions on your cleaning chemical will advise on if/how to properly dilute it. While it may be tempting to ignore the instructions to “save time and money”, this really is a false economy. Remember those surfactants and the all-important micelles! 

Get in touch

At Rochem, we have over 40 years of experience making gas turbine compressor cleaning products. Our range of FYREWASH cleaning chemicals utilizes our understanding of surfactants and foulants, offering tailored products for a range of demanding environments. 

If you’re interested in upgrading your cleaning regime with FYREWASH®, please get in touch. We will happily help you choose the best product for your gas turbine and location, and help advise on correct dilution for optimum results.

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