# Modeling Strategies for Crude Oil-Induced Fouling in Heat Exchangers: A Review

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## Abstract

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## 1. Introduction

## 2. Deterministic Fouling Models

## 3. Threshold Fouling Models

^{0.8}in the removal term to characterize the controlling mechanism depending on mass transfer rather than shear stress as suggested by Crittenden [44]. The model showed good predictions of experimental data from Knudsen et al. and Ebert and Panchal with adjustment of the activation energy. Yeap et al. [45] modified the Epstein’s model [30] by introducing the suppression term. The suppression term was related to the mass transfer term for turbulent conditions. Although the model showed better predictability of Panchal, Knudsen’s lab data, and data from refineries, it requires more data for regression than previous models as it contains many fitting parameters. The model featured velocity dependencies in both the fouling deposition and suppression terms. It predicted well the behavior of maximum velocity in the initial fouling rate-velocity relationship shown by Crittenden et al. [31]. Nasr and Givi [46] modified the Polley’s model by removing the Prandtl number from the deposition term and changing the power of Reynolds number to 0.4 in the removal term. While the results predicted well the experimental data of Saleh et al. [47], the values of model parameters were more empirical, rendering its application to limited operating conditions.

- To predict the corresponding threshold film temperature at a certain velocity using the threshold curve;
- To predict the initial fouling rate for a combination of different velocities and film temperatures.

#### 3.1. Significance of Activation Energy

- The activation energy term lost its validity in the fouling application because of various mechanisms involved with the chemical reaction. The value used for activation energy, which is merely a factor representing the combined effect of other factors such as the solubility of precursors, fluid velocity, mass transfer limitations, etc., misrepresent its true meaning. Using the data from Ebert and Panchal, they also showed that the activation energy value varied with velocity, demonstrating it to be not true activation energy;
- The use of data fitting to estimate activation energy values from different fouling models gave different results for the same data set, as shown by Yeap et al. [45]. Also, the initial guess values in regression analysis affect the estimated parameter values. This makes activation energy no more than a fitting parameter, and dividing by gas constant in the exponential term should not have any significance;
- Using reciprocal temperature in the exponential term can be replaced with normal temperature dependence because this term becomes linear at higher temperatures (i.e., crude oil fouling range). It was shown using the data from Ebert and Panchal [40] and Petkovic and Watkinson [56] that using normal temperature in the Arrhenius plot could also give a good fitting of the data;

_{a}/R ratio in the deposition term with a temperature-dependent constant G, which is defined as follows:

#### 3.2. Prediction of Induction Period

## 4. Incorporation of Crude Stability/Compatibility

_{BN}/I

_{N}) close to 1 showed asphaltenes deposition on a lab scale coking unit. Stark and Asomaning [59] estimated asphaltenes stability index (ASI) for different crude oil blends. They observed that blending heavy crude oil with light paraffinic oil led to asphaltenes’ insolubility and caused high fouling in refinery preheat trains. They observed no effect of blending ratios on fouling behavior of an incompatible blend made by mixing high to low fouling potential crude. Saleh et al. [65] investigated the effects of blending crude oils using an annular HTRI probe. They showed that the initial fouling rate depends highly upon the proportions of crude oils blended. While data for solubility blending number was scattered, colloidal instability index (CII) was found to be the preferred parameter to relate with initial fouling rate. The results showed a linear relationship on a log-log plot between CII and the initial fouling rate. The proposed correlation was as follows:

## 5. Effect of Ageing

_{f}–t profile was achieved by including the effect of reduction in cross-sectional area of the tube, which served to remove deposits by increasing the velocity.

## 6. Thermal-Hydraulic Relationship

## 7. Role of Inorganic Content

_{i/o}), which represents the promotion of organic deposition by inorganic deposition, in the deposition rate model as shown in Equation (18). The value of p

_{i/o}was found to be 0.24.

## 8. CFD Simulations

## 9. Conclusions

- Using both deposition and removal terms in fouling models is criticized due to multiple empirical parameters involved. Models containing the removal parameter within the deposition term have shown comparable results and reduced fitting parameters. The removal term is highly susceptible to flow behavior, which is related to flow geometry; this emphasizes the need for a conversion factor when comparing experimental data from different geometries;
- The inclusion of the asymptotic surface coverage model is a promising approach in predicting the induction periods by combining with the fouling model to achieve a comprehensive model for longer duration;
- The activation energy in the Ebert and Panchal model has lost its validity in the Arrhenius deposition term as its value is affected by the physical processes. A better way to describe the deposition term is to introduce parameter for temperature dependency of the crude oil properties;
- The rate of asphaltenes precipitation reaction has been neglected as part of the deposition model, despite the increasing demand of opportunity crudes and blending operation. The colloidal instability parameters seem promising to incorporate in the deposition model, despite the complex dependency of asphaltenes precipitation on crude oil temperature and composition. A more practical approach would be to find the relationship between the deposition constant and the instability parameter of the crude oil or blend;
- Foulant ageing and the presence of inorganic content can cause errors in estimating the thickness of foulant layers due to an increase in foulant thermal conductivity. However, accurate prediction of fouling rate and foulant thickness can be achieved by incorporating ageing and mixing models for foulant thermal conductivity. In addition, the reduction in throughput loss near the hydraulic limit of the operation can be achieved through pressure drop measurements. Therefore, relying solely on thermal performance could lead to inaccurate estimations of fouling rate and thickness of foulant. It is, therefore, recommended to include the hydraulic performance data as necessary tool to evaluate the fouling behavior of heat exchangers;
- With difficulty in data acquisition and the long duration of experimental studies, CFD simulations can play a critical role in assessing the application of different models with a wide range of operating conditions and geometries. The application of dynamic mesh needs to be further explored to capture accurate hydraulic performance.

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Data Availability Statement

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

## Nomenclature

A | Arrhenius coefficient |

${\mathrm{A}}_{1-3}$ | Model constants |

B | Sticking Probability |

Bi | Biot number |

c | Concentration of foulants, kg/m^{3} |

c_{i} | Concentration of foulants at i^{th} site, mol/m^{3} |

c_{t,0} | total number of sites at t=0, mol/m^{2} |

c_{A·S} | sites occupied by A, mol/m^{2} |

c_{AS} | concentration of A on the surface, mol/m^{2} |

CII | Colloidal instability index |

d | tube inner diameter, m |

E | Activation energy, J/mol |

e | Roughness, m |

f | fanning friction factor |

${\mathrm{F}\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{m}\mathrm{a}\mathrm{x}}$ | maximum flocculation ratio |

G | Temperature-dependent constant, K |

G_{o} | Model parameter, K |

J | mass deposition rate, kg/s |

k_{1}, k_{2} | lumped rate constants, s^{−1} |

${\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{m}}$ | deposition constant, m^{4}/kg^{2} |

${\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{r}}$ | removal constant, m^{2}/N s |

L | tube length, m |

M | molar mass, kg/kmol |

m | mass of deposit per unit surface area, kg/m^{2} |

${\dot{\mathrm{m}}}_{\mathrm{i}}$ | mass flux, kg/m^{2} s |

P | Pressure, Pa |

P_{o} | Peptizing power of maltenes |

Pr | Prandtl number |

${\mathrm{p}}_{\mathrm{i}}$ | ratio of inorganic to organic deposition rate of component i |

Q | Heat transfer rate, Watt |

R | Gas constant, J/mol K |

R_{f} | thermal resistance, m^{2}K/W |

${\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}^{\prime}$ | rate of fouling, m^{2}K/J |

Re | Reynolds number |

${\mathrm{r}}_{\mathrm{i}}$ | initial rate of fouling reaction, s^{−1} |

S | roughness parameter |

S_{c} | Schmidt number |

T | time, s |

T | Temperature, K |

U | Heat transfer coefficient, W/m^{2}K |

u | mean flow velocity, m/s |

w | wettability parameter |

${\mathrm{w}}_{\mathrm{i}}$ | mass fraction of i component |

x | deposit thickness, m |

${\mathrm{x}}_{\mathrm{A}\mathrm{S}\mathrm{P}}$ | Asphaltenes content |

${\mathrm{x}}_{\mathrm{A}\mathrm{S}\mathrm{H}}$ | Ash content |

Y | Ratio of convective and conductive heat resistances |

y | youth factor |

Greek | |

$\mathsf{\alpha}$ | model fitting parameter [Equations (3) and (9)], K s^{2}/kg |

β | model fitting parameter, dimensionless |

γ | model fitting parameter [Equations (3) and (9)], m^{3} K s/J kg |

∆ | difference |

θ | fractional surface coverage |

$\lambda $ | thermal conductivity, W/m K |

μ | dynamic viscosity, Pa s |

ρ | density, kg/m^{3} |

τ | shear stress, N/m^{2} |

$\mathrm{\varnothing}$ | rate of deposition, kg/m^{2} s |

$\psi $ | model fitting parameter, dimensionless |

Subscripts | |

b | Bulk fluid |

c | crude oil |

D | Deposition |

eff | Effective |

f | Film |

F | Foulant |

inorg | Inorganic component |

org | Organic component |

R | Removal |

s | Surface |

s0 | Surface initial |

w | Wall |

Superscripts | |

o | fresh deposit |

$\infty $ | aged deposit |

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**Figure 1.**TH-λ plot with TH and PTH lines. The dashed lines represent operating limits and dots represent the cleaning events. Reprinted with permission from Ref. [78], 2020, American Chemical Society.

Model | Author (s), Year & Ref. | Fluid | Operating Parameters | Equipment | Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

$\mathrm{d}\mathrm{m}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}={\dot{\mathrm{m}}}_{\mathrm{D}}-{\dot{\mathrm{m}}}_{\mathrm{R}}$ $\mathrm{d}\mathrm{x}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}={\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{m}}\mathrm{c}\mathrm{J}-{\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{r}}\mathsf{\tau}\mathrm{x}$ | Kern & Seaton, 1959 [28] | Water | N/A | Heat exchanger | Introduced the basic concept of fouling Share based removal term |

$\mathrm{d}\mathrm{x}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}={\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{m}}\mathrm{J}\mathrm{B}-{\mathrm{k}}_{\mathrm{r}}\mathsf{\tau}\mathrm{x}$ | Watkinson, 1968 [29] | Sour heavy gas oil | T_{b} = 366 K | Heated tube | Introduced sticking probability |

T_{s} = 477 K | |||||

u = 1.7–7.4 m/s | |||||

${\mathrm{r}}_{\mathrm{i}}=\alpha \mathrm{e}\mathrm{x}\mathrm{p}\left(-\mathrm{E}/\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}\right)/\mathrm{u}$ | Patterson, 1988 [32] | Skimmed milk | T_{b} = 333 K | Heated tube | Assumed sub-layer as a differential chemical reactor |

T_{s} = 358–383 K | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\alpha \mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{w}}\right)$ | Crittenden et al., 1992 [39] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 403 K | Heat exchanger | |

T_{s} = 433–553 K | |||||

u = 0.7–2.1 m/s | |||||

${\left.\frac{{\mathrm{d}\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}}{\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}}\right|}_{\mathrm{t}=0}=\frac{\alpha \mathrm{\varnothing}}{{\mathsf{\lambda}}_{\mathrm{f}}{\mathsf{\rho}}_{\mathrm{f}}}$ $\mathrm{\varnothing}=\frac{{\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{b}}}{\left(\frac{{\beta \mathrm{S}}_{\mathrm{c}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$2$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}}{{\mathrm{u}\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{f}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$1$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$2$}\right.}}\right)+\left(\frac{\gamma \mathsf{\rho}{\mathrm{u}}^{2}{\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{f}}}{\mathsf{\mu}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\frac{\mathrm{E}}{{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}0}}\right){\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{s}}^{\mathrm{n}-1}}\right)}$ | Epstein, 1994 [30] | Crude oil | N/A | Heated tube | Introduced residence time of foulant on the surface. |

${\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}=\alpha \mathrm{t}{\mathsf{\tau}}^{-\mathsf{\beta}}\mathrm{S}\left(\mathrm{t}\right)/{\mathsf{\lambda}}_{\mathrm{f}}{\mathsf{\rho}}_{\mathrm{c}}$ ${\mathsf{\lambda}}_{\mathrm{f}}=\left({\mathsf{\lambda}}^{\infty}-\mathsf{\alpha}\mathrm{e}\mathrm{x}\mathrm{p}\left(-\gamma \mathrm{t}{\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}}\right)\left({\mathsf{\lambda}}^{\infty}-{\mathsf{\lambda}}_{\mathrm{c}}\right)\right)$ | Joshi, 2013 [34] | Crude oil | u = 0.9–2.7 m/s | Heat exchanger | Included both surface roughness and ageing parameters. |

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\frac{{\mathrm{M}}_{\mathrm{f}}}{{\mathsf{\lambda}}_{\mathrm{f}}{\mathsf{\rho}}_{\mathrm{f}}}.\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right).\left({\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{t},0}-{\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{A}\xb7\mathrm{s}}\right).{\mathrm{c}}_{\mathrm{A}\mathrm{s}}$ | Rammerstorfer, 2019 [18] | Crude oil | N/A | N/A | Determined that fouling is adsorption controlled |

Model | Author (s), Year & Ref. | Fluid | Operating Parameters | Equipment | Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{\mathsf{\beta}}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right)-\mathsf{\gamma}{\mathsf{\tau}}_{\mathrm{W}}$ | Ebert & Panchal, 1995 [40] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 505 K | Heated tube | Introduced concept of fouling threshold condition. |

T_{f} = 643–673 K | |||||

u = 1.2–5.2 m/s | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{-0.66}{\mathrm{P}\mathrm{r}}^{-0.33}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right)-\mathsf{\gamma}{\mathsf{\tau}}_{\mathrm{W}}$ | Panchal et al., 1997 [42] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 477–636 K | Heat exchanger, annular flow | Introduced effect of thermal conductivity and specific heat of crude oil. |

T_{s} = 505–740 K | |||||

u = 0.9–3.2 m/s | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{-0.8}{\mathrm{P}\mathrm{r}}^{-0.33}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}}\right)-\mathsf{\gamma}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{0.8}$ | Polley et al., 2002 [37] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 422–477 K | Annular flow | Replaced film temperature by surface temperature. Related removal term to mass transfer of turbulence. |

T_{s} = 477–602 K | |||||

u = 0.91–3.05 m/s | |||||

$\frac{\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}}{\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}}=\frac{{{\mathrm{A}}_{1}\mathrm{f}\mathrm{u}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$2$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}{\mathsf{\rho}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$2$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}{\mathsf{\mu}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$-4$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}}{1+{{\mathrm{A}}_{2}{\mathrm{u}}^{3}{\mathrm{f}}^{2}{\mathsf{\rho}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$-1$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}{\mathsf{\mu}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$-1$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}}^{\raisebox{1ex}{$2$}\!\left/ \!\raisebox{-1ex}{$3$}\right.}\mathrm{exp}\left(\frac{\mathrm{E}}{{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{s}}}\right)}-{\mathrm{A}}_{3}{\mathrm{u}}^{0.8}$ | Yeap et al., 2004 [45] | Crude oil | T_{s} = 380–593 K | Heat exchanger | |

u = 0.63–3.94 m/s | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{\mathsf{\beta}}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right)-\mathsf{\gamma}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{0.4}$ | Nasr and Givi, 2006 [46] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 353–393 K | Annular flow | Proposed model independent of Prandtl number. |

T_{s} = 453–518 K | |||||

u = 0.25–0.4 m/s | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\alpha \mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right)\mathrm{B}$ | Polley, 2010 [50] | Crude oil | N/A | Heat exchanger | Fewer fitting parameters than Ebert & Panchal’s model |

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{e}}^{\mathsf{\beta}}{\mathrm{P}\mathrm{r}}^{-0.33}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{E}/{\mathrm{R}\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{e}\mathrm{f}\mathrm{f}}\right)-\mathsf{\gamma}{\mathsf{\tau}}_{\mathrm{w}}$ | Shetty et al., 2016 [48] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 355–453 K | Annular flow | Incorporate the effect of dissolution of precursor with increasing bulk temperature. |

T_{s} = 516–607 K | |||||

u = 0.35–0.5 m/s | |||||

$\mathrm{d}{\mathrm{R}}_{\mathrm{f}}/\mathrm{d}\mathrm{t}=\mathsf{\alpha}{\mathrm{Re}}^{-\mathsf{\beta}}{\mathrm{P}\mathrm{r}}^{-0.33}\mathrm{exp}\left(-\mathrm{G}/{\mathrm{T}}_{\mathrm{f}}\right)-{\mathsf{\gamma}\mathsf{\tau}}_{\mathrm{w}}$ | Deshannavar & Ramasamy, 2020 [57] | Crude oil | T_{b} = 353–393 K | Annular flow | Replace activation energy with temperature-dependent constant, G. |

T_{s} = 451–499 K | |||||

u = 0.4–0.5 m/s |

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**MDPI and ACS Style**

Rehman, O.u.; Ramasamy, M.G.; Rozali, N.E.M.; Mahadzir, S.; Ghumman, A.S.M.; Qureshi, A.H.
Modeling Strategies for Crude Oil-Induced Fouling in Heat Exchangers: A Review. *Processes* **2023**, *11*, 1036.
https://doi.org/10.3390/pr11041036

**AMA Style**

Rehman Ou, Ramasamy MG, Rozali NEM, Mahadzir S, Ghumman ASM, Qureshi AH.
Modeling Strategies for Crude Oil-Induced Fouling in Heat Exchangers: A Review. *Processes*. 2023; 11(4):1036.
https://doi.org/10.3390/pr11041036

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Rehman, Obaid ur, Marappa Gounder Ramasamy, Nor Erniza Mohammad Rozali, Shuhaimi Mahadzir, Ali Shaan Manzoor Ghumman, and Abdul Hannan Qureshi.
2023. "Modeling Strategies for Crude Oil-Induced Fouling in Heat Exchangers: A Review" *Processes* 11, no. 4: 1036.
https://doi.org/10.3390/pr11041036