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What is a gas turbine on-line washing system?

05/07/2020

In whatever specialist industry you use your gas turbine, it’s important to keep all the components in good running order. That sounds obvious enough, but did you know that part of your regular maintenance should include gas turbine compressor washing? 
 
‘Of course,’ you might be thinking, ‘we shut down the turbine and give the compressor a thorough scrub now and then,’ and that’s great! However, there is still the opportunity for foulants to build up between washes, impacting performance and stealing from your profit. 
 
So, if you really want to maximise performance and profit while minimising down-time, you should consider an on-line washing system.
 

Why does a gas turbine need cleaning?

When everything that goes into a process compressor is invisible, it’s hard to imagine any kind of grime accumulating. However, tiny particles of sand, exhaust fumes, salt and other foulants are inevitably carried in by the air. Even essential lubricants contribute to the problem. 
 
Once the air and gas is in the system, by its nature, the compressor creates high temperatures and pressure. That’s perfect for its job role, but not great in terms of ‘baking’ microscopic deposits onto the compressor blades. It doesn’t take long for these deposits to seriously interrupt airflow and consequently inhibit performance.  
 
When that happens, you need to use more fuel for the same output, which is an unnecessary expense that really adds up. Even more dramatic than draining your bank account, a compressor left un-checked will eventually stop working altogether and need immediate unscheduled repair work. Obviously, that’s extremely bad for business. 
 
The build-up of foulants is unavoidable but the good news is that the solution is simple: regularly clean your compressor to keep it in good running order.  
 

What are the cleaning options?

Cleaning your process compressor sounds simple enough, but it’s not necessarily the easiest place to access. 
 

Off-line cleaning 

Perhaps the most obvious option is an off-line clean. This manual method involves shutting down the turbine and physically scrubbing the compressor blades to remove foulants. This may be something you already do and is the most effective method. 
 

On-line cleaning

Perhaps less obvious is the opportunity to add on-line compressor washing to your schedule. This minimum-effort option cleans your compressor with next-to-no input from you. 
 
Specialised nozzles inject atomised detergent and/or deionised water into the compressor during regular turbine use. The foulants are dissolved and flushed away without impacting production. 
 
It’s recommended to carry out on-line washing of gas turbines every 3-7 days depending on the local environment.
 

The benefits of an on-line washing system

Let’s be clear: it’s important to keep off-line washes in your cleaning schedule because they really are the most thorough method. However, the complementary on-line option keeps your compressor cleaner and more efficient while allowing longer gaps between disruptive off-line cleans. 
 

On-line compressor washing:

  • Doesn’t require a system shut-down and doesn’t impact turbine use.
  • Keeps compressor blades cleaner for longer. 
  • Helps maximise profit through maintained efficiency.
  • Can be carried out using the same equipment as off-line cleans once nozzles etc. are installed. 
  • Utilises the same detergents as off-line cleans. 

Find out more

The hardware to facilitate on-line washing of gas turbines can be retrofitted in almost all cases. This could revolutionise the way you clean your compressor and boost your bottom line. 
 
The costs associated with installing this new cleaning equipment are returned many times over in fuel savings alone, not to mention sparing you the expense of excess scheduled and unscheduled down-time.  
 
Rochem are the trusted experts for specialist cleaning hardware and detergents for hundreds of sites around the world. If the idea of on-line compressor washing appeals to you, get in touch to find out how we can help.
Our friendly team would be happy to talk about your specific needs. 

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