A positive review of laser cleaning: fast, clean and efficient

A first for the Chemelot site: laser cleaning. An innovative cleaning technique has been used in two reformer tubes at the ammonia plant for the first time ever with positive results. This technique allows us to effectively remove contamination without impacting the thickness of the tube wall. We are currently investigating possibilities for using this method more extensively within Sitech.

Ahmed Mhaoui, Mechanical Engineer Materials & Corrosion, summarizes the situation: "Two reformer tubes had cracks that were visible to the naked eye. Together with a team of experts and the plant management, we decided to stop the plant to investigate this further. The pipes first had to be cleaned before we could carry out this investigation; regular cleaning techniques could not be used because the pipes are staggered, which is why the team looked for alternative ways to clean the pipes."

Efficient, fast and clean results
Integrity Engineer Ron Herings suggested laser cleaning. With this environmentally friendly, innovative method, a concentrated beam of light is focused directly at the contamination using a special laser. This has significant advantages, as Asset Engineer Sander Schepers explains: "Laser cleaning only removes the contamination, not the material. It is very efficient and faster than traditional cleaning. Run the beam of light over the item twice and it is clean! The contamination particles released by the process are immediately extracted, leaving the environment much cleaner. In addition, we were able to perform the required non-destructive examination immediately after cleaning."

A versatile cleaning method
Laser cleaning is suitable for a variety of applications because it can also be used for larger surfaces. Sitech is currently holding discussions with our customers to see where this cleaning method could offer even more added value.

Want to learn more about laser cleaning or other industrial cleaning techniques? Please contact our Sourcing Manager Marco Biermans, marco.biermans@sitech.nl.

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