Fouling build up is a well-known problem in the offshore industry. Accumulation of fouling occurs in different structures, e.g. offshore pipes, ship hulls, floating production platforms. The type of fouling that accumulates is dependent on environmental conditions surrounding the structure itself. Current methods deployed for fouling removal span across hydraulic, chemical and manual, all sharing the common disadvantage of necessitating halting production for the cleaning process to commence. Conventionally, ultrasound is used in ultrasonic baths to clean a submerged component by the generation and implosion of cavitation bubbles on the fouled surface; this method is particularly used in Reverse Osmosis applications. However, this requires the submersion of the fouled structure and thus may require a halt to production. Large fouled structures such as pipelines may not be accommodated. The application of high power ultrasonics is proposed in this work as a means to remove fouling on a structure whilst in operation. The work presented in this paper consists of the development of a finite element analysis model based on successful cleaning results from a pipe fouled with calcite on the inner pipe wall. A Polytec 3D Laser Doppler Vibrometer was used in this investigation to study the fouling removal process. Results show the potential of high power ultrasonics for fouling removal in pipe structures from the wave propagation across the structure under excitation, and are used to validate a COMSOL model to determine cleaning patterns based on pressure and displacement distributions for future transducer array design and optimization.
Lais, H., Lowe, P. S., Gan, T. H., & Wrobel, L. C. (2018). Numerical modelling of acoustic pressure fields to optimize the ultrasonic cleaning technique for cylinders. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, 45, 7–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultsonch.2018.02.045