Improve Fouling Resistance in Heat Exchangers

April 02 2021 Non-stick, Anti-fouling

Refinery header

Can SilcoTek coatings prevent fouling and coking in chemical process applications?  Read on and get some pretty impressive results!

Improve Fouling Resistance in Heat Exchangers

In this blog you will learn:

  • How fouling impacts refineries
  • Problems with current fouling solutions
  • How inert anti fouling coatings can prevent heat exchanger fouling and filter fouling
  • Learn about CVD anti fouling coating solutions and fouling prevention

Fouling can severely impact the performance of processes and instrumentation in just about every industry.  The effects of the accumulation of substances, be it carbon fouling in a distillation process or the build up of carbon particulates in fuel systems, can have a range of impacts: 

Impact of fouling on refinery and fuel systems.
  • Causes contamination
  • Reduces flow
  • Increases drag/pressure
  • Encourages corrosion
  • Increases emissions
  • Increases maintenance requirements
  • Slows production
  • Costs money!
heat exchanger fouling.png

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Dealing with the impacts of deposits and build-up of unwanted materials depend on the application and importance of the process.  Regardless, the cost can be high.  Here are some examples of the impact of material build-up on critical surfaces:

  • Refining
    • -$0.5 billion spent to overcome coking issues (2002)
  • Heat exchangers
    • -50% of maintenance costs are caused by deposits, causing billions of dollars to industry.
  • Automotive
    • -10%+ increase in fuel consumption due to fouling


Read our presentation on preventing coking and fouling


Potential Solutions to Fouling in Refinery Applications

There are many possible solutions to the problem.  Some expensive, some not realistic, most are costly and can result in redesign or added maintenance.  Here are a few examples:

Solution Issue
Additives Costly, difficult to manage. May not be realistic for some processes
Steam cleaning Not entirely effective.  Impacts productivity.  Not realistic for some processes.
Increase energy / power / fuel consumption (basically brute force idea) Expensive and does not solve the problem
Control the incoming media that’s causing deposit build-up Rarely an option in industrial applications
Material selection Several options, difficult to optimize performance & cost
“Surface engineering” through advanced anti-fouling coatings 

Flexible and cost effective

Modify the existing part’s surface to make it behave how you need it to


The Benefits of Coatings to Prevent Surface Interaction

emissions-smoke_stack_EPA_SilcoNert Flowpath 

Inert Coatings can be an effective solution for multiple applications and industries because they enhance the performance of the surface while preventing interaction of the base material with the interacting substance.  The result?  A better surface without changing the part design or physical property of the base material.  There are, however, several factors to consider when selecting the right coating for the application.  Such as:

-Do I have to re-engineer to account for tolerance changes?  In most cases no change in tolerance needed.  But consider for super high tolerance applications.

-Is there an environmental impact?  The amorphous silicon surface has very little environmental impact both during processing and as a product.

-Can the anti-coking coating withstand temperature, abrasion, corrosion, etc. in the application?  In many cases, yes but consult with a SilcoTek representative to be sure.

-How long will it last?  Depends on the application, but the coating should provide superior performance for years.  Contact a SilcoTek representative to discuss your application.

Want to learn more about our coatings and how they improve the performance of your product?  Get our webinar on demand.

Solving coking and fouling problems

How SilcoTek Coatings Prevent Build-up


SilcoTek coatings are an inert high temperature barrier coating, preventing catalytic or chemical interaction with the underlying surface.  For example nickel containing substrates catalytically form carbon deposits (coke) from petrochemical media. Causing build-up on the surface.  Coatings like SilcoKlean® or Dursan® bond to the surface and change the surface energy and inertness, preventing chemical adhesion and adsorption of the substrate.  The coating's low energy surface prevents the attachment of flow path chemicals to the surface.  Applications include:

SilcoTek® Solutions & Applications    
Problem SilcoTek Coating Solution  
Carbon deposit, coke, formation from incomplete burning of fuel SilcoKlean barrier coating reduces catalytic coking and carbon deposit formation coking heat sink fuels.jpg
Bio-fouling in food applications.  Spores from sour milk suspensions stick to testing equipment Dursan prevents sticking by up to 76% Residue from sticking.png
Protein binding in medical diagnostics Dursan prevents surface interaction and sticking Protein_adsorption_graph-666998-edited.jpg
Carryover in GC & HPLC chromatography Dursan corrosion resistance prevents pitting & sticking to flow path surfaces Corrosion_Solutions_Dursan_Graph_10_16_13-118258-edited.jpg

SilcoTek offers many solutions to the problem of sticking, corrosion, deposits and carryover.  Go to our solutions page to learn more about our coatings.

 See How We Perform  In Your Application