process compressor cleaning system

On-line process compressor cleaning leads to greater profits

An efficient process compressor is essential to achieving a reliable and profitable system. Unfortunately, fouling of your process compressor is inevitable thanks to contaminations contained within the process gas compressor and even from internal polymerisation or seal oil contamination.

The Rochem on-line nozzle and delivery system cleans your process compressor during normal operation. By precisely spraying atomised water and specialised detergent into the compressor, foulants are dislodged, dissolved, and flushed away before they have a chance to accumulate.

Boost efficiency
Keeping your compressor clean maintains efficient combustion meaning you maximise output while reducing energy costs.

Accelerate cleaning
Rochem cleaning systems can be used on-line allowing the process compressor to be cleaned during normal operation in a matter of minutes.

Maintain productivity
On-line process compressor cleaning means you don't have to carry out time consuming manual cleans. You will also face fewer costly unscheduled shutdowns.

Utilise data
We can help you establish what kinds of foulant are present and calculate the results you could achieve with a cleaning system.

Target foulants
Choose specialised cleaning chemicals from the FYREWASH® range that are designed to specifically target the foulants in your process compressor.

Upgrade equipment
Our equipment can be retrofitted in almost every case. We can conduct a feasibility survey before designing a bespoke system for your site.

FAQs about process compressor cleaning systems

What are the foulant types?

  • Scaling or precipitation
  • Particulate
  • Corrosion
  • Chemical reaction
  • Solidification
  • Composite

What are the options when cleaning a gas turbine compressor?

The four main types of gas turbine compressor cleaning are shown below in the table below along with their advantages and disadvantages. Abrasive cleaning is seldom carried out anymore due to the high potential risks associated with this type of cleaning and modern gas turbines. The other three types are much more common and performed on gas turbines of varying sizes across the world. The two most popular water wash methods performed on gas turbines are offline and online. Rochem best practice recommends both online and offline washing. Online washing helps limit performance deterioration in service while regular offline washing raises baseline performance.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Abrasive A high level of performance recovery at a low cost Can clog cooling holes in blades increasing thermal fatigue and likely to cause erosion to surface coatings
Hand cleaning Restores turbine to "as new" condition offering maximum performance recovery Lengthy shutdown and a large amount of man hours required
Online Performed in service, no need to reduce speed or lower output Extra loading of the turbine and increased erosion risk from large droplets
Offline Deep cleans turbine resulting in significant performance recovery without shutdown Requires a reduction in operating speed and multiple rinse cycles


What is the on-line process compressor cleaning process?

During on-line cleaning, atomised cleaning fluid is injected into the system while the compressor is still running. It reduces the rate at which foulants build up in process compressors and can significantly reduce losses, increase efficiency, and reduce unplanned shutdowns for cleaning.

Why do we need to clean the process compressor?

Fouling consists of deposited airborne particles ingested from the environment. These can include not only salts and minerals or hydrocarbons, but also aggressive gases such as Sox, Nox or Cl2. Once these particles adhere to the compressor blading, an increase in surface roughness is seen affecting the aerodynamic performance and in turn compressor performance. This ingested pollution is also a contributor to blade corrosion.

These chemicals react with moisture from the environment creating acidic compounds, reducing the operational life of the machine, and increasing maintenance costs to the operator.

In 2012, Andrew F Bromley carried out a fouling cost prediction for three engines based on a reduction in energy output over a period of 8000 hours which can be seen below in figure 1. This indicates a huge potential monetary cost to running a fouled turbine, suggesting that the installation and running cost of a turbine wash system is relatively insignificant in comparison and you are likely to see a return on investment within the first year.

Figure 1. Prediction of the cost of fouling - Gas turbine power degradation and compressor washing, tutorial part 2, ASME International gas turbine and aeroengine congress - Andrew F. Bromley

A further issue of fouling is the blocking or partial blockages of cooling passages in hot section stators and blades, as bleed air is contaminated by foulants entering the cooling system. This results in improper cooling and accelerates thermal fatigue on components. This then increases maintenance costs and lengthens shutdown periods.

Although the problems highlighted above will not be eliminated by installing a turbine wash system, it will mitigate the risk and cost incurred from operating in non-ideal environments. By performing a wash, we are removing this build-up of foulant from not only the compressor blades but all internal surfaces.

Do I need to use chemicals for online process compressor cleaning?

Many foulants can be simply flushed away with water but not all of them. FYREWASH® chemicals are a range of specialist cleaning chemicals designed for all types of fouling while meeting current manufacturer and environmental standards worldwide. They are mixed with treated water in a ratio of 1:4 and practice has shown that FYREWASH® F1 and F4 are best suited to clean process compressors. Alternatively, where water is prohibited by the process parameters, process compressor cleaner can be used as it contains no water. Other cleaning fluids can be used in the cleaning process.

What is the scale of associated losses if no cleaning is completed?

The onset of performance loss may be rapid commencing soon after start-up or develop more gradually over time.

  • 15 - 30% shortfalls in the head are common
  • 10% efficiency loss is translated into a 10% increase in power to maintain production
  • Power constraints result in a drop in production revenue and profits
  • Losses amounting to $4.8M per unscheduled shutdown are not exceptional!

Will the cleaning chemical damage process compressor seals?

In principle, process compressors with oil seals or self-acting dry gas seals are suited for on-line cleaning. A design verification will be carried out to determine if any modifications are required for each particular case.

What is the process connection size and form?

These can be manufactured to suit any application, but standard nozzles use 1-1/2" ANSI/DIN flange connections rated to suit the process application.

What equipment is required for on-line cleaning?

What's the solution to process compressor performance recovery?

There are two choices to deal with this problem:

  • Take the unit out of service, open the casing and manually clean the process compressor internals. This method is a very time-consuming and costly solution
  • Or install a Rochem on-line cleaning system that allows the process compressor to be cleaned during normal operation in a matter of minutes.


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