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Exchanger leak testing - chemical tracers

Tracerco has been at the forefront of the development of online leak detection for the last 40 years. The method allows the detection of leaks as small as 0.5%. However, customer demands to measure smaller leaks affecting product quality, has prompted extensive research to develop alternative online methods. Through the development of specialist chemical tracers leaks as small as 0.0001% are readily identified.

Project Field Test
In the following case study, Exchangers A and B were condensing naphtha from a crude distillation column on the shell side using raw crude as the cooling media on the tube side. Customer laboratory results showed that the naptha was out of specification with regards to colour, indicating that there may be damage to the internals of the crude column or a leak in an exchanger. A Tru-Scan™ was performed on the crude column and results indicated that there was no damage to the column internals, nor operational issues such as flooding or severe entrainment.

A review of the process showed that there was no sample point between exchangers on the naphtha side, so a common sample point downstream of the bank of exchangers had to be used. However, there was an injection point before each of the two exchangers on the crude side (Figure 1). The first chemical tracer, T105, was injected into the high-pressure crude inlet to the bottom exchanger (A) of the bank of exchangers. This tracer passed through the crude side of the bottom exchanger and then to the top exchanger (B). As the tracer was injected into the feed, the first sample cylinder was opened, allowed to fill, and then closed. Additional sample cylinders were opened, filled, and closed at intervals appropriate to the system.

After the last sample was collected from the first test, a different chemical tracer, T205, was injected into the crude inlet line between the exchangers. The second chemical tracer passed through the crude side of the top exchanger (B) only. The sample point was the same as for the first test. Sample cylinders were were analysed for tracer presence.

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