The cleaning action can either be chemical or physical, such as using mineral acids to break down inorganic salt scales, or it can be both chemical and biological, such as steam or turbulent water movement.

The chemistries employed in chemical cleaning operations have advanced significantly over the past decade. Foaming, emulsion, and scale removal without acidic solutions are all now possible with the development of specialized chemical mixes. Almost everything may be done by new-age chemical companies whose products are at the cutting edge of technology as long as the needs are defined. “Soap” is no longer a synonym for this product.

Chemical cleaning may be done without polluting the environment, be it the air, water, or soil.

A representative sample of the fouling deposit must be evaluated to select the best cleaning chemical for a certain application. Having a thorough understanding of the removal procedure can be crucial in swiftly determining the nature of the waste and deciding on the best products to use in the process. A chemical manufacturer’s or equipment owner’s experience should be sought if deposit samples cannot be acquired.

Acidic or acid-based commercial cleaning chemicals can remove many inorganic deposits, whereas alkaline solutions can remove some organic residues. Some tars and polymer deposits may be removed using aromatic solvents with an emulsifying agent. As long as equipment components can withstand strong acidic or alkaline contact and sensitive wastewater operations aren’t affected, these fundamentals are okay.

Chemical cleaning can be done in situ, employing mobile facilities to circulate cleaning agents through equipment that cannot be moved, such as systems of vessels and pipelines. During a cleaning procedure called as “steam phase,” steam is frequently used in towers or columns to distribute cleaning chemicals throughout the vessel. Equipment can be cleaned chemically by submerging it in a cleaning liquid. If you need to remove stubborn deposits from a piece of equipment, this is the best option.

Heat exchangers that formerly required cutting out the heating bundles, transporting them to a cleaning yard, and blasting them with high-pressure water may now be cleaned. Since process temperatures may not be adequate and contamination may spread throughout the system, on-stream chemical cleaning should only be used after careful evaluation.

Specialized chemical cleaning solutions to boost efficiency and reduce decontamination time are becoming more common during process unit shutdowns. Hazardous contaminants in tanks, pipelines, and other support equipment must be removed during the decontamination phase of a shutdown to accomplish this goal. Fouling debris that has harmed productivity and revenue generation is a primary reason for equipment cleaning in many circumstances. However, specialist chemical cleaning treatments can also successfully remove leftover bulk hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon films, and sludge from refinery equipment. Preparations for safely decontaminating a vessel and allowing for the recovery of substantial percentages of valuable hydrocarbon streams that can be reinserted into the refining process are included. As a result, the owner avoids the high costs of hazardous waste removal (very important in tank cleaning operations).

Mixing hot water with petrochemical industry-specific cleaning solutions typically results in an 80 to 90°C (176 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit) solution. Depending on the type of hydrocarbons to be removed and the depth of foulant to be eliminated, a chemical concentration of 1-5 percent is commonly used. An oil-in-water emulsion can be used to suspend hydrocarbon debris during cleaning temporarily. It is then pumped into a storage tank, where the oil phase can easily separate without the use of any additional chemicals.

According to experience, chemical cleaning can cut shutdown times by half or more. In many cases, the savings in manpower and increased plant availability outweigh the additional expenses of chemical cleaning methods.