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Exchanging heat exchangers

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Exchanging heat exchangers

Purpose built bandsaw system drastically reduces recycling times of oilfield heat exchangers

When Prosaw was approached at an International exhibition to provide a system that would saw through heat exchanger tube bundles that were three metres in diameter, the immediate reaction reflected the fact that none of their standard products offered a solution suitable for the application, however Prosaw's in house technical design team came up with a solution for cutting through a product of such a large diameter.

The Prosaw HCS-3000.

It emerged during discussions that the product in question was a particular type of heat exchanger known as a shell and tube heat exchanger which is most frequently used in oil refineries and other large chemical processes.

As the name suggests, this type of heat exchanger consists of an outer shell, packed internally with a bundle of tubes. To fulfill its function, one type of fluid passes through the tubes and another flows over the tubes in order to transfer the heat. Eventually however, there will come a time when corrosion within the tubes is likely to occur, at which point they will need to be replaced and the first stage of this process is achieved by sawing through the entire tube bundle.

Sawing a tube bundle.

In response to this challenge, Prosaw designed a special purpose heavy duty machine which they called HCS-3000 and has a capacity of up to 3000mm in diameter. Featuring a horizontally mounted bandsaw fitted with a 67mm wide blade, the saw is able to slice through tube bundles in less than one third of the time taken using conventional sawing machines. The bandsaw is mounted onto a vertical axis, the feed rate of which is very precisely controlled and pre-programmed to be infinitely variable in order to take account of the constantly changing profile of the tube bundle as sawing takes place. There is no operator involvement during the process of cutting the bundles.

Commented Prosaw Sales Director, Robert O'Brien, "We are very proud of our achievement in carefully designing and producing this remarkable system which delivers a massive reduction in process time compared with traditional methods, whilst simultaneously achieving a significantly extended blade life."