Lane, Matthew Ryan (2013-08). Experimental and Numerical Investigation on Fouling Parameters in a Small-Scale Rotating Unit. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Fouling, a problem since the first heat exchanger was created, has been the focus of various studies since the 1970s. In particular, crude oil fouling is a costly and problematic type of heat exchanger fouling that occurs in the preheat train to the atmospheric distillation column in petroleum refineries. Previous experiments have been designed to determine the causes of fouling using less than one gallon of crude oil and accumulating test results within a day. These experiments will be the basis of the Rotating Fouling Unit (RFU) at Heat Transfer Research Inc. (HTRI). The RFU focuses on better controlling the shear stress and heat transfer distribution along the surface of the heated test section by analyzing Taylor-Couette flow experiments and using them as a basis to better predict the flow across the heated surface of the test section in the RFU. Additionally, the equations for Taylor-Couette flow are used to verify the 2D flow simulations of the RFU to ensure the accuracy of the results. The design of the RFU incorporates data acquisition with a variety of measurements that will facilitate automatic and accurate data collection, so the results can be easily compared to previous fouling experiments. The RFU will act as a supplement to the High Temperature Fouling Unit (HTFU) at HTRI, and provide data comparable to that of the HTFU in order to better understand crude oil fouling. Computer simulations can accurately predict the shear stress and heat transfer coefficient along the surface of the test probe and help verify the improvements made to the original batch stirred cell designs.

publication date

  • August 2013