Tube Tech Helps Increase Thermal Efficiency by 3% at Tüpraş Izmir Refinery

Tube Tech deployed its patented fouling removal robot to tackle fouling within a steam methane reformer furnace’s convection bank tubes. The unit had never been cleaned since coming into service in 1993 due to the inaccessible location of the convection tubes.

The Challenge

The plant was experiencing reduced heat transfer, higher fuel consumption and an increase in flue gas temperature of its steam methane reformer. The problems arose from the adsorbents in a Pressure Swing Absorption Unit, part of the refinery’s Hydrogen Manufacturing Unit (HMU), being changed during a turnaround.  

Once started up, some of these adsorbents were transported by the tail gas stream and facilitated by misplaced screens in one of the beds; the result was an accumulation of fouling on the convection bank tubes of the steam methane reformer.

The Solution

To restore heat transfer, the decision was made to deploy a specialist method of removing fouling from the convection section tubes. The client contacted Tube Tech as a provider of engineered heat transfer efficiency solutions with particular expertise in accessing even the hardest-to-reach areas.

Our team mobilised during the planned turnaround period and deployed our patented fouling removal robot, which can penetrate deep between tube rows to remove 90%+ fouling. Traditional cleaning methods would only be able to clean approximately 30% of the convection bank. The project was complete within 60 hours.

The Results

Hydrogen Production Cost and ROI 

The average cost of hydrogen production before and after the project was calculated at $943.9-919.3 $/t. The production cost of hydrogen decreased by $24.6/t and the payback period for the project was less than 60 days.

Flue Gas Temperature 

The average flue gas temperature decreased from 278°C to 220°C, meaning that the furnace’s thermal efficiency increased by approximately 3%.

Steam Production 

Steam production increased by approximately 20%, and the generated steam temperature increased by 10°C-15°C.

Tube Tech Comment

This was a great project to be a part of; we often come across convection banks that have never been cleaned before, simply because they are deemed inaccessible or difficult to clean.

At Tube Tech, we research and develop our own technologies which means we can ensure that they remove fouling as precisely as possible using exact dimensions and water pressures depending on the level and location of fouling. Because of this bespoke approach, we are proud to be able to guarantee heat transfer restoration for our clients.

We look forward to working with the refinery on future projects.

The IGS Surface Solutions Package


As well as Tube Tech’s fouling removal services, the refinery also utilized another IGS solution by applying a Cetek high-emissivity coating onto the refractory surface to increase radiant section efficiency. Click here to read more. 

Is your facility suffering from reduced output?

Contact our team today for expert advice and tailored solutions across a range of industries and applications.