Fouling of heat exchangers

Study level


Master of Philosophy

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor William Doherty
Principal Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Darryn Rackemann
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Industrial countries around the world spend US$26 billion per year or 0.2% of the gross national product for the removal of deposit in heat exchangers. Despite heat exchangers in chemical factories having a regular cleaning routine both during shut down periods and also during plant operation, fouling is still a major production issue affecting product recovery, energy consumption, and operating cost.

This project will focus on two areas:

  • scale causing impurities and technologies for their removal, and
  • development of chemical cleaning formulations Collaborators include chemical manufacturing companies and chemical industries.

Research activities

The use of chelating agents, though effective to remove recalcitrant deposit, is too expensive. Understanding how the deposit that foul the heat exchangers are removed by chemicals by studying macro- and micro-structural and transformational changes that occur during chemical treatment will be the focus of the study.

Laboratory scale evaporator is available for studying the impact of new type of additives to enhance the removal of deposits from surfaces.


Development of:

  • chemical cleaning formulations,
  • chemical cleanings models, and
  • analytical tools to monitor chemical cleaning in heat exchangers.

Skills will be developed in the use of AFM, XRD, XRF, XPS, ESEM &SEM (including elemental mapping) and other analytical techniques such as Si NMR,



Contact the supervisor for more information.