As the size of rotating equipment in power plants and refineries grows, so must the effort to keep that equipment clean. Lube oil flushing is a tried-and-true cleaning method for systems of all shapes and sizes, and B&W Energy Services knows how to perform it successfully while maximizing cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
What is Lube Oil Flushing?
Lube oil flushing is a cleaning method used to clear dirt, sand, oil residue and other contaminants from equipment and various other systems. Those particles can significantly damage the system and decrease its lifespan if improperly cleaned. Industrial oil flushing services should always be performed on newly installed equipment to ensure trouble-free start-up. It’s also often performed on existing equipment during turnarounds.
Ignoring the need for a properly designed lube oil flush can result in costly repairs and downtime down the road. Given the importance of an effective clean, here are the five critical steps to achieve a successful lube oil flush:
The first step is to evaluate the system that needs to be cleaned. In order to design the most thorough cleaning procedure for your project, B&W reviews all client, owner and vendor specifications and guidelines at the start to ensure they’re incorporated into the engineered procedure. Our team examines design inputs, including process and instrumentation diagrams, erection isometrics, vendor drawings, data sheets, metallurgy and target contamination. After analyzing these materials, we take it all into consideration as we create a plan.
After evaluation, B&W develops a cleaning plan. Our detailed engineering package will cover all aspects of the flushing program from start to finish. During the planning stage, our engineers will engage with your project reliability engineers to align expectations and go over any OEM criteria and additional design considerations. We’ll evaluate pre-cleaning measures, calculate cleaning velocities and required flow rates, identify dead legs that can trap debris and take other proactive measures to maximize the cost-effectiveness of our proposed cleaning plan. Faulty gaskets are one of the key contributors to an extended lube oil flushing procedure, costing you more time and money. That’s why B&W addresses these and other concerns from the start, specifying high-quality gaskets and ensuring they’re included in the plan.
The next step is to perform incompressible fluid modeling. This stage is vital, as it confirms that design flow rates and velocities will be achieved during fluid circulation. It also ensures proper temporary equipment sizing and ratings to reach appropriate Reynolds numbers during flushing. At B&W, we understand the importance of designing cleaning processes that function on paper just as well as they do in the field. Amateurs guess, and experts check. By taking the time to conduct this step, we’re one step closer to achieving accuracy and efficiency in the lube oil flushing process.
Once modeling is complete and the plan is in place, our experienced field supervisors mobilize to the site with specialized equipment. B&W’s high-velocity flushing skids are designed in-house with integrated pumping, filtration, and heating components in a minimum footprint setup, allowing for rapid mobilization and reduced rig-up time. We offer multiple skid options to tackle lube oil systems of all sizes, each equipped with variable frequency drives. All B&W temporary hoses, fittings and equipment arrive pre-cleaned with wrapped flanges to eliminate the risk of further contaminating a lube oil system once mobilized. Need specialty flushing kits, custom fittings, bearing jumpers or other specific pieces of oil flushing equipment? B&W provides those, too.
Last but not least, we execute the cleaning plan. To optimize lube oil flushing efficiency, we employ thermal cycling of the lube oil, altering its viscosity to facilitate faster contaminant retrieval. Our high-volume filtration process significantly reduces flushing durations. We also utilize the piping’s pneumatic vibration during flushing. This technique aids in dislodging and moving larger particles out of the system, further enhancing the effectiveness of the flushing process. We understand that preventing cross-contamination and potential leaks during flushing is paramount. B&W Energy Services is committed to meticulously inspecting, cleaning and wrapping each component before it’s even shipped to the site to ensure thorough, efficient lube oil flushing for your systems.
From evaluating and planning to modeling and executing, B&W Energy Services has decades of experience performing highly successful lube oil flushing services for our clients worldwide to maximize their equipment’s lifespan. Contact us today to learn more about how our lube oil flushing services can add value to your facility.